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


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.”

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 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