5.8 Earthquake In Virginia Felt In Maryland

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP)– A 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia is felt in Maryland.

It happened around 1:51 p.m. Tuesday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. People also felt it in New York and Rhode Island. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The quake was centered near Louisa, Va., in Louisa County, which is northwest of Richmond and south of Washington.

Fire department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright says there have been widespread evacuations throughout the city. He says since there hasn’t been any indication of damage to buildings, officials feel it’s safe for people to return to their homes.

Many people who fled downtown high-rises were trying to reach friends and family by cell phone, but service was interrupted.

There has been damage reported in Southeast Baltimore near Bank Street where a spire from a church collapsed onto the road. There are no reports of any injuries there.

“We have been in contact with all local jurisdictions and a number are reporting damage to some infrastructure,” said MEMA spokesperson Ed Hopkins.  “Fortunately, they’re not reporting any serious injuries.”

Even though there aren’t normally earthquakes in Maryland, Hopkins said that each jurisdiction does have its own plan.

Earthquake Hits Maryland:

Adam May reports in the WJZ newsroom, strong shaking was felt. People went under doorframes for safety and some people left the building.  Some lights and televisions went off during the shaking.

Kai Jackson reports many buildings and courthouses in the area were evacuated.

Hundreds of people stayed outside on the sidewalks in downtown Baltimore, not wanting to return to their high-rise buildings.

“I’ve never felt anything like it in Baltimore.  I lived in California and I felt one there but not here,” said Johns Hopkins employee Rafael Irizarry.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” said one woman.

“5.8, that’s big.  Maybe something else is coming we should be on the lookout for,” said Mark Richey.

“I was sitting on the marble ledge and the whole thing started shaking,” said a man.  “And then it got stronger and stronger and stronger.”

“I was in Mercy Hospital and the whole building started shaking,” said one man.  “Everyone got really scared and started running outside.”

“Everything started shaking and then it stopped and then it got really bad and I started screaming and ran out of the building,” said a woman.  “It was panic.”

Once people got outside and realized the worst was over, many of them started to feel a lot better.

Delays are reported in commuter service throughout Maryland.

In downtown Baltimore, the subway system was temporarily shut down and traffic is “a mess.”

All MARC train service was suspended.

Amtrak reports train service along the Northeast Corridor between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., is operating at reduced speeds.

Amtrak says its crews are inspecting stations and railroad infrastructure before returning to normal operation. The rail service says no injuries have been reported but passengers should expect delays.

Mayor Discusses Earthquake:

Weijia Jiang spoke with the mayor.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake activated the city’s Emergency Operations Center  Tuesday afternoon and is meeting with city agencies to assess any issues related to the earthquake. She announced that nonessential city employees are authorized to leave work early.

Rawlings-Blake has also sent people to check out all bridges around the city and ordered police officers to check the traffic patterns downtown and help people get home safely. 

There were no mandatory evacuations but many chose to leave the downtown area.

“There have been no reports of major injuries in Baltimore and 911 is fully operational and responding to all emergencies,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. 

In the Washington area, Metro appears to have emerged from the earthquake unscathed. Dan Stessel, spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, says there are no immediate reports of injuries or damage to the area’s extensive metro rail system. But he says all trains have been slowed to 15 m.p.h. and officials are performing a system-wide track inspection.

Maryland state employees have returned to the statehouse after an evacuation lasting roughly 30 minutes due to the earthquake.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O’Malley, says staff in a meeting on the second floor thought something was falling off the building. She says the room she was meeting with other staffers was shaking.

Several staffers said they initially thought scaffolding around the statehouse dome, which is being repainted, had collapsed. One staffer hid under a desk, and others stood in a doorway before they left the building.

Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for O’Malley, says: “We really felt like it was going to come through the ceiling at any second.”

The East Coast gets earthquakes, but usually smaller ones.

The National Weather Service’s West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said the location of the quake was far enough inland that it didn’t threaten to trigger a tsunami on the coast.

Director Paul Whitmore said the center has gauges up and down the East Coast and none of them were detecting tsunami activity.

Federal officials say two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va., were automatically taken off line by safety systems around the time of the earthquake. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah says the agency was not immediately aware of any damage at nuclear power plants in the southeast.

NRC officials are still assessing the situation.

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.

More than 12 million people live close enough to the quake’s epicenter to feel shaking, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency said this quake was in the yellow alert category for economic damage, meaning there was potential for local damage but it would add up to far less than 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

East Coast earthquakes are far less common than in the West, but they tend to be felt over a broad area. That’s because the crust is not as mangled and fractured, allowing seismic waves to travel without interruption.

“The waves are able to reverberate and travel pretty happily out for miles,” said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough.

Click here for a slideshow of the damage.

Click here for closings.

Police are asking residents not to call 911 to report an earthquake unless there is an emergency.

More Eyewitness Accounts:

Mike Hellgren spoke to residents in Annapolis.

This was the equivalent of more than 10,000 tons of dynamite.  People panicked, unsure of what was happening.  Many evacuated buildings as the ground rumbled.

“Suddenly the house was moving this way and that way,” said a woman.

“Everything just started shaking and falling.  I thought I had knocked something down,” said one man.

“Chairs started to rumble a little and then all of a sudden, some trophies started to rattle.  We realized it was an earthquake,” said one woman. 

The State House in Annapolis doesn’t appear to have suffered any damage.

 “It startled me,” said one person. 

“Now I can say I’ve lived through an earthquake,” said another.

Stay with WJZ.COM for the latest in this developing story.

  • chris

    Felt moderate shaking all the way up in Providence, RI.


      I guess this is Obama’s fault too!

      • Mike

        No, Obama will blame it on Bush of course or the Tea Party.

      • Dan

        hell yea it is. he was golfing roflmao

    • Bj Rogers-Crouse

      Church Street at the county/city line got it.

    • TRACY


    • dc

      Our house rocked in Bel Air, MD!

      • papo swing

        My town home was shaking pretty good my dog was barking i was trying to go online when the whole roof was shaking ..Wow…………… Abingdon MD


    • Jeaneen Andretta

      Felt in NJ. My husbands office sent everyone out jut in case, his whole building swayed. My house shook, the blinds moved. Would not want to be in a big one.

    • Shameeka

      I didnt even know it was possible for us to get an earthquake. I was so scared, i thougt it was the end of the world, the computer and desk were shaking as if it wanted to fall over. Phone lines are down so its so scary right now. What shuld we do and will it get worse?

      • Carl

        Shut up. You’re fine.

      • Easy going

        Some people are more sensitive then others and different areas felt the earthquake to different degrees. I’m sorry Carl decided to be so rude

    • Geo

      We felt the earth moving in our building in Columbus, OH. The 2 story building was “rolling” and everyone on the floor felt the movement.

    • Hether

      Our house ROCKED in Arbutus, MD!

    • Barbara Agel DeMay

      I live in Westminster Carroll Co. and it moved the windows in my house, and the dogs looked like they new it before i did.

    • Theresa Trimilove

      Felt very moderate in Severna Park, clock almost fell from mantel; went to door. Whole house was swaying. Lights swinging, dogs, cat, and bird loudly barking, crying and squealing. Worst I have ever felt…hope it isn’t a fore-shock!

    • Sada

      I am actually sitting in orientation for work in annapolis, MD and I started feeling my chair shake at first I thought someone was kicking me but then we heard loud movement in he halls so everyone went to see Wat had happen and the said we had a sligt tremor, but I kno better it was no bby shake

    • Jackie Stapleton

      I live in Arnold, MD. My horses took off running and the dogs ran to the door. I told my daughter to go outside. Used to live in California and have felt many earth quakes. I knew it was an earth quake the moment it started.

    • elizabeth

      we work at wine world in abingdon harford county and we watched the bottles teeter a bit and then it was over before we knew what happened!! it’s all good thankfully.


      • KO

        I felt it in Whiteford MD my house was shaking

    • Bruce

      Up here in New Hampshire too.

  • A

    Felt in Towson, MD as well.

    • KITTY


      • teresa Howell

        We are in Baltimore, MD. In the Cherryhill area, It shook the whole house my speaker fell internet box fell my fish tank was shaking. I pray all is well with you and everyone.

      • Dascil Lynn

        I’m in shower everything shaking. Very slipp, Dr Martin Luther King picture would not far but swing left to right in fast motion. i’m slide in the water, butt/ f/ n/ I thought it was next store thinking its him dogs, everything falling . I’m yelling for my daughter outside. Running around wet trying to get my clothes. I thought the world was coming to a end. Due to the sun out. It scared me to deaf. Please i hope that will never happen again. My husband under a car it felt the ground shaking so he got up in time. Sincilair Lane..Praying time….

    • ~Geri~

      ~We felt it up here in Stewartstown area~

    • Tori Hunt

      felt it in Kent Island Queen Annes Co. MD things started falling off of the walls and shaking and then the whole house started shaking rapidly. It ended before i could do anything i was just sitting in the computer room upstairs and at first i was like this doesnt usually happen on the east coast, i was shocked.

    • Rebecca Trapp

      Irmo, SC had waving water in cups.

    • Dan

      It only lasted 15 seconds my first thought was it was a low flying helicopter in the Halethorpe area. Back in the 90’s I was in York PA it was around 5 am and was shook to the point of falling to the ground a lot more intense then this. This is becoming a Media hyperbol.

    • Seth

      Verizon Wireless and Comcast phone are out, Internet access is operational as is power and water, earthquake felt in Edgewood MD.

      • Jennifer Warwick

        Yeah I know phone lines or at least the Verizon Wireless service is and I hate that. My husband works for Amtrak and I can’t get ahold of him.

    • Barb

      I was sitting on the toilet and my house shook so bad that it throw me off the toilet. we could see the roof tops of the houses shake

    • Nicole

      felt it in Owings Mills left 2 big aXX cracks in middle of Reisterstown rd

  • patti

    WE felt the earthquake here in Laurel, MD. Our whole office building shook like it was coming down to the ground. OMG! I can’t imagine how others felt to actually be in one of a magnatude size. THe whole street of bldgs. came out to the road to get out of the buildings.

    • Sade

      Baltimore as well

    • claire

      i was on the phone with my mom who lives in mineral va and she started yelling and screamed earth quake. i could hear everything shaking and she hung up on me. not 30 seconds later our house in cooksville md started shaking. crazy. i cant reach her now the phones are down.

      • Kim

        hope all is well with her….

    • mark canfield

      was felt in pasadena as well,while on the phone with relatives in ne. ohio who claimed they felt it there as well

    • Sharon

      Felt in Southern Dorchester County Eastern Shore, MD – Whole house was ruumbling

    • shirley furry

      we llive in Union Bridge and our whole house shook. it was something I never experienced in my life. Very scary

      • Barbara Cordwell

        I know how you feel. I live in Union Bridge too!

  • K.Kuhn

    Our office building – a historic home in Severna Park – shook like a house of cards! Papers and books came off shelves and everyone evacuated.

  • Marsha

    OMG….I felt it in my classroom in Mitchellville. The windows, floor, and walls were shaking.

  • Ne

    I thought I left Earthquakes in California!!! OMG!!!

    • Sade


    • Kathy

      This was my first one! And hopefully the last! Westminster, MD

    • Sara

      I felt it in federalsburg md the whole house was shaking

  • Malynda

    We just felt it here in Union Mills Maryland!

  • D A B

    We felt the Building shake in Woodlaw Social Security Complex.

  • Ed Bennett

    I live in Sparks, MD and at 1:50 my entire house shook. It felt like a hurricane was hitting our house and moving it from side to side, but when I looked outside there was no wind. It lasted about 15-20 seconds. When it was over there was no actual damage, but it was an amazing feeling. I’ve never experienced anything like it before.

    • Tom

      I’m in Monkton. I thought my stomach was growling until I saw the table shaking. They must be testing nukes at Aberdeen underground. The earthquake is a cover story. ha ha

  • Dori Province

    we felt this in Marlborough MA as well

  • Lorri Lechlinski

    Our office building felt the earthquake in Bel Air, Maryland.

  • Ed

    I live in Essex and the whole house was shaking

  • Karrie

    Felt it in darlington, md

    • Karrie

      Also now i can not make calls from my cell phone

      • Marsha

        me neither

      • Kim

        Me 3rd it is so not good not being able to confirm family is ok

      • jlc

        mine is out too in frederick maryland – landline and cell

    • Britt

      We are in Bowleys Quarters…I live in an apartment there and I thought the building was falling down. I grabbed my kids and made one big leap to my bathroom doorway….all in one movement. The kids were screaming and crying really bad. I calmed them down..now if I could only calm myself down lol

  • Mel

    Felt the earth shaking in Elkton, MD at 1:50pm.

  • Fay Kelly

    My condo building shook in Perry Hall, scared me.

  • Kelly

    We felt the earthquake in Bel Air @ 1:55pm.

  • Gary

    Thought the student behind me was kicking my seat. Then the overhead projector started shaking; then the whole classroom shook. University of Baltimore.

  • EB

    Felt it in downtown Baltimore.

  • Superior Distribution

    Shook our building here in West Annapolis realllll good.

  • Barbara Euler Hutchison

    Earthquake – wow our whole building shook !!!! OUr beautiful chandelier is STILL swaying !!!!!! Hope everyone is ok !!!!!

  • dmoore

    Wow pretty cool.thank god no one hurt.

    • MommaD

      WHO DAT!

      • MommaD

        Brooklyn, MD is rocking too!

  • RileyfromtheBoondocks

    We felt it in Northern Baltimore at Good Sam Hospital

  • MiChelle Martz

    Felt it in Pikesville, MD as well… the entire building was swaying.

  • j huey brown

    eastern shore shaking

  • Bill

    Felt in Bel Air Md

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