Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rare earthquake hits Virginia

A rare 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia today, startling residents unused to feeling the shaking and rumbling of a seismatic event of that nature.

In Midlothian just outside the Commonwealth's capital city of Richmond, my sister said the rumble made the floor beneath her feet move in a way that made her realize that an earthquake had hit the area. She called immediately afterward to tell me what had happened in her part of Chesterfield County, saying her friend down the street had laughingly told her it sounded as if a helicopter was about to land on her house.When I tried to call her five minutes later, phone lines were jammed and I couldn't get through on her land line but eventually caught up with her on her cell.

Over a hundred miles to the west in Augusta County, glasses clinked and pans clanked hanging on the pot hanger at my house as the floor shook beneath my husband's feet. It lasted a bit longer than he expected and was confirmed as a quake when announcers at the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania reported what had hit Virginia.

In Charlottesville, my brother-in-law was at work when the quake rumbled, causing buildings in the University of Virginia area to sway.

My mom and I were riding the back roads of southern Augusta County when the quake hit and unaware of what had happened until the phone call from my sister informed us of the news followed by a call from my husband that was followed by a call from a friend ... and then text messages started rolling in from all over.

It was the strongest quake since May 5, 1897. So far, there has been minor damage damage reports are coming in from localities. At this point, nothing out of the ordinary had been reported at the nuclear power plant at Lake Anna. Response in Washington, DC, was a bit more than other areas as staffers were evacuated from the Capitol building.

In the Shenandoah Valley, the day is beautiful with temperatures in the upper 70s, low humidity, slight breeze, and sunny skies. All ears had been tuned to weather updates about Hurricane Irene because of its expected impact on Virginia this weekend but now we have something else to talk about for a couple of days.

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