About an hour ago I was sitting at my computer in my apartment in Manhattan, when it seemed to me that my chair was swaying back and forth. I looked behind me at a mirror that hangs on a wall next to a door, and it was swaying too. It was very strange. I thought maybe that there was some construction work being done in the apartment below mine that was making my apartment sway, which had never happened before. I thought of going downstairs to ask, but the swaying didn’t continue, and I forgot about it. I had had some wine at lunch, so I lay down and closed my eyes for a bit.

Then I got up, went back to my computer, went to the Drudge Report, and saw this:



Which linked to this (VFR comments begin here):

Aug 23, 2:56 PM EDT
Quake rocks Washington area, felt on East Coast

WASHINGTON (AP)—A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia forced evacuations of all the monuments on the National Mall in Washington and rattled nerves from Georgia to Martha’s Vineyard, the Massachusetts island where President Barack Obama is vacationing. No injuries were immediately reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile deep and centered near Louisa, Va., about 40 miles northwest of Richmond. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated.

Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in the same county as the epicenter were automatically taken off line by safety systems around the time of the earthquake, said Roger Hannah, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Dominion-operated power plant is being run off of four emergency diesel generators, which are supplying power for critical safety equipment. Hannah said the agency was not immediately aware of any damage at nuclear power plants in the Southeast.

Obama and many of the nation’s leaders were out of town on August vacation when the quake struck at 1:51 p.m. EDT. The shaking was felt on the Martha’s Vineyard golf course as Obama was just starting a round.

At the Pentagon in northern Virginia, a low rumbling built and built to the point that the building was shaking. People ran into the corridors of the government’s biggest building and as the shaking continued there were shouts of “Evacuate! Evacuate!”

The U.S. Park Service evacuated and closed all National Mall monuments and memorials. At Reagan National Airport outside Washington, ceiling tiles fell during a few seconds of shaking. Authorities announced it was an earthquake and all flights were put on hold.

In New York, the 26-story federal courthouse in lower Manhattan began swaying and hundreds of people were seen leaving the building. Court officers weren’t letting people back in.

The quake came a day after an earthquake in Colorado toppled groceries off shelves and caused minor damage to homes in the southern part of the state and in northern New Mexico. No injuries were reported as aftershocks continued Tuesday.

In Charleston, W.Va., hundreds of workers left the state Capitol building and employees at other downtown office buildings were asked to leave temporarily.

“The whole building shook,” said Jennifer Bundy, a spokeswoman for the state Supreme Court. “You could feel two different shakes. Everybody just kind of came out on their own.”

In Ohio, where office buildings swayed in Columbus and Cincinnati and the press box at the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field shook. At least one building near the Statehouse was evacuated in downtown Columbus.

In downtown Baltimore, the quake sent office workers into the streets, where lamp posts swayed slightly as they called family and friends to check in.

Social media site Twitter lit up with reports of the earthquake from people using the site up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard.

“People pouring out of buildings and onto the sidewalks and Into Farragut Park in downtown DC … ,” tweeted Republican strategist Kevin Madden.

“did you feel earthquake in ny? It started in richmond va!” tweeted Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.

John Gurlach, air traffic controller at the Morgantown Municipal Airport was in a 40-foot-tall tower when the earth trembled.

“There were two of us looking at each other saying, `What’s that?’” he said, even as a commuter plane was landing. “It was noticeably shaking. It felt like a B-52 unloading.”

Immediately, the phone rang from the nearest airport in Clarksburg, and a computer began spitting out green strips of paper—alerts from other airports in New York and Washington issuing ground stops “due to earthquake.”

- end of initial entry -

Buck O. writes:

I was sitting at my computer in my house ten miles north of D.C., answering an email, just about to jump into the shower. I had no pants on. It startled me up from my seat. My house started shaking and the noise was unbelievable. I have about 60 bottles of single malt scotches on one wall. They were raising hell. I grabbed on some pants and ran out the front door. It was eerie quiet. There was not one soul on my empty cul-de-sac. The shaking stopped as soon as I got out my door. I looked back at my house expecting it to start coming apart. Nothing broke. I went back in and looked around, then went back out again. Neighbors began to appear outside. “What was that?” Obviously it was an earthquake. Emails and text messages have been flying. Everyone here is very excited. You’d think the Redskins just won the Superbowl. Everyone wants to meet at the pub tonight.

LA replies:

Earthquakes are not supposed to happen in New York City. We read about those things happening elsewhere in the country. Not here.

Ferg writes:

“Earthquakes are not supposed to happen in New York City. We read about those things happening elsewhere in the country. Not here.”

If you ever go to Charlston SC. and visit the old colonial section of town you will see many buildings that have large bolts through them. They are there to hold these beautiful old buildings together after a major quake well over a hundred years ago (don’t remember when). the east coast gets quakes about every one hundred to one hundred fifty years according to the guide on my tour of Charleston.

When I lived in California and had quakes about monthly I was amazed on a trip back home to Minneapolis to hear the pilot on the PA say that central Iowa had just had an earthquake of something like 5.5 magnitude. I had no idea we get quakes in the Midwest, but I guess there is a fault that runs through here and moves now and then. Personally, I think it is Obama’s fault. He should resign to stop this sort of thing.

Buck O. writes:

Apparently a different configuration of the earth’s crust here, on the East coast, makes a quake of the same magnitude seem larger than one on the West coast.

Another note about cell phones in a disaster. Right after the quake, I was rapidly texting with a number of people, but never made a call. I just heard that cell phones were not working after the quake. Another lesson from 9/11 that is useful to remember. Cell phones will not work after some large disasters, but texting will. So learn how to text.

Daniel M. writes:

I could feel it out here in Ohio. It was ever so slight, but I could feel my computer chair rocking slightly, and I looked over and noticed my fan was swaying too. It’s been decades since I have felt a quake so at first I was confused as to what I was feeling.

Buck O. writes:

Thought you might enjoy these:

After Washington DC realized that the earthquake was nothing to worry about, they took to Twitter to joke about the cause. Some of the best ones below:

@TPCarney: Krugman says it wasn’t big enough.

@comradescott: Evidently the quake occurred on a little known fault line outside of DC called “Bush’s Fault”. #tcot #p2

@calebhowe: Breaking: Obama administration points out they “inherited” fault lines from previous administrations.

@MaizeBlueNation: Fox News claims the Washington monument is leaning to the right, MSNBC claims it’s leaning to the left. More news at 11.

@charliespiering: I won’t stop shaking until Obama makes a speech telling me that everything is ok and that he has a plan

@Ben_Howe: As all of DC leaves work at the same time, the United States experiences a brief economic recovery.

@daveweigel: Was all set to loot in Dupont circle, then realized all we have are taco and cupcake stores.

@JimPethokoukis Shot: Virginia Earthquake Chaser: Hurricane Irene

@politicoroger POLITICO had the earthquake story yesterday.

N. writes:

One news report said the epicenter was in Virginia. I found myself wondering which Founding Father’s grave was involved?

Auntie Analogue writes:

Rumor from Middle East has Hamas newspaper headline shouting: JEWS PROVOKE ZIONIST GREAT SATAN QUAKE!

White House reported evacuated. Quick, someone nail the doors shut so we can all enjoy Hope and Change of Address!

Reports tell all affected nuclear power plants shut down automatically, unlike the Japan’s Fukushima reactor cluster that behaved like a Toyota and put its pedal to its molten metal.

Pentagon employees debouched into the building’s halls amid shouts of “Evacuate! Evacuate!” Did you know anything about the Pentagon having recruited in France?

Did Nancy Pelosi just cast suspicion on “Tea Party terrorists”?

Not one grape shook free from Martha’s Vineyard.

Graceland management announced Elvis’s corpse to record follow-up single to “All Shook Up.”

Another rumored headline: FEMA RACES TO NEW ORLEANS.

Who knew Qaddafi could tunnel that fast?


LA replies:

By the way, I did not know the word debouche. It means “march out (as from a defile) into open ground,” and “Pass out or emerge; esp. of rivers.”

Alexis Zarkov writes:

Mr. Auster writes, “Earthquakes are not supposed to happen in New York City. We read about those things happening elsewhere in the country. Not here.” Actually earthquakes do happen in NYC. A magnitude 5.2 earthquake event hit the city in 1884. In Manhattan a fault runs under 125th Street. If you go to the elevated train station at 125th Street and Broadway and look at the pillars holding up the station you will see a hinge installed. The designers put that in to allow displacement during an earthquake. However the axis of rotation for the hinge is in the wrong direction so it does no good.

Earthquakes are much more serious in the East than in the West because the rock is much less fractured and transmits energy with less attenuation. Being far more seismically active, rock in California is far more fractured. These fractures come from the constant, but low-level earthquakes. A big earthquake is simply a little earthquake that didn’t stop. In other words, the same geologic processes that create small quakes create big ones. This is why big quakes are virtually impossible to predict.

This website has some interesting reading material about the seismic hazards in New York City. New York’s turn will come.

LA replies:

Evidently Mr. Zarkov, a native New Yorker transplanted to the neighborhood of the San Andreas fault, is seeking to “equalize” New York with California, seismically speaking.

Karl D. writes:

I am quite surprised with the headline. Shouldn’t it read “Random 5.9 Mag Quake Rocks DC-NYC”.

August 24

Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:

I was wondering if you would write about this. New York’s hit didn’t seem insignificant. The ripples went as far up as Nova Scotia. I felt the quake in Toronto. I was outside, and I thought it was temporary dizziness. I held onto a wall to stabilize myself, then forgot about it. This also happened last year, It seemed a little stronger then. I should have known what it was. I realized what had happened from the news on T.V. later on. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, all in calm Canada! Sign of something.

LA replies:

It’s remarkable that you felt anything at all in Toronto, let alone that much.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 23, 2011 03:14 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):