Yes, That Was Just an Earthquake You Felt [Updated]

Photo: shake

The quake was a 5.8 magnitude, centered in Virginia and felt up and down the east coast from North Carolina to New York. Now we know how Americans will respond to an emergency: They will make jokes on Twitter.

Update: The USGS has upgraded the quake, which struck in Mineral, Virginia, to a magnitude 6.0. The Pentagon and the Capitol building are being evacuated.

Update II: Nate Silver, who is apparently an expert in everything, tweets: "Virginia earthquake was quite shallow — just 6 km underground. May explain why folks felt quite a bit of shaking."

Update III: President Obama is reportedly playing golf with Vernon Jordan. Earthquakes are great excuses for missed putts.

Update IV: According to the Times, there aren't any signs of damage from the earthquake. Except for maybe this guy's chimney.

Update V: Here is your exhilarating New York earthquake video:

Update VI: Back in February, an expert told Metro New York that the city was due for a big earthquake. "It can happen anytime soon," said Won-Young Kim, a seismologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "We can expect it any minute, we just don't know when and where."

The last big quake to hit New York City was a 5.3-magnitude tremor in 1884 that happened at sea in between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook. While no one was killed, buildings were damaged.

This one, though, was centered in Virginia, so it doesn't count.

Update VII: There will not be a tsunami.

Update VIII: Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station just 10 miles from the epicenter have been shut down. The plant was recently named the 7th-most earthquake-prone nuclear power plant in the country. A spokesman says the plant "did lose on-site power, but all the diesel generators are up and running. Everything appears to be operating just fine."

Update IX: The FAA has grounded flights in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York.

Update X: Governor Andrew Cuomo has released this statement: "Currently, there have been no reports of damage to buildings, bridges, roads, power grids, the Indian Point nuclear power plant, or other infrastructure."

Update XI: The earthquake hit in the middle of the DSK press conference:

Update XII: The MTA says subway service hasn't been disrupted. And the FAA now says that all area airports are back to normal.

Update XIII: The prescient 1999 movie Aftershock: Earthquake in New York perfectly captures what today was like.

Update XIV: Fox News has reported that "that their bureau received information from a producer saying that a Captiol Hill Police officer says that the Washington Monument may actually be tilting as a result of the earthquake." This is a good time to mention a little-known provision in the Constitution: If the Washington Monument falls, America is automatically over.

Update XV: Meanwhile, the National Park Service claims there was "absolutely no damage" to the Washington Monument.

Update XVI: Here's video of Obama taking a phone call about the earthquake while on the golf course. The optics would probably be a bigger problem for him if the earthquake was more than a brief, minor inconvenience.

Update XVII: Here's a word cloud of how Twitter reacted to the quake. The word "shit" stands out.

Update XVIII: The Washington National Cathedral isn't doing so well. A spokesman says that three pinnacles have broken off and a fourth is leaning.

Update XIX: The earthquake also interrupted this commercial for a Virginia auto store. We really hope they use this as the final cut:

Related: Geography of Disaster