So, about an hour ago, I’m on the phone with a client, hanging out in my office, when I feel a pretty peculiar sensation. I felt a little woozy and a little nauseous, but then I realize it’s not just me… the FLOOR is moving. This is pretty disconcerting when you work on the 30th floor of a building. Shortly thereafter, all the employees congregated and confirmed that we all felt it. We’re all insane already so we weren’t thinking anything about that, but it felt nice to justify our thoughts.
From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
An earthquake centered in Virginia was felt in the Pittsburgh region just before 2 p.m. today, leading to evacuations here and around the East Coast.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the magnitude 5.9 quake occurred less than a mile underground at 1:51 p.m. near Richmond. It was felt shortly afterward in Pittsburgh.
The tremor prompted a series of evacuations, some mandatory and some voluntary.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s students were evacuated and were gathered outside the building on the Boulevard of the Allies.
Point Park University also was being evacuated.
Workers from the glass-encased PPG headquarters were gathering in the outdoor plaza.
The Allegheny County 911 center was getting swamped with calls but said it had no early reports of earthquake damage.
At the Steelers offices on the South Side, many of the front-office employees felt the two-story building shake, thinking it might have been a passing train. Some left the building and stood outside in the parking lot. At the time, the players were practicing outside in the back of the building.
Anita Groupp, who lives in the Sunset Hills neighborhood of Mt. Lebanon, said she was watching television when she felt the quake.
“I was sitting on my couch and it jumped three times,” she said. “Then the chandelier and the hanging plants started swinging.”
The rumbling was felt by employees on the campus of Carnegie Mellon Unversity. “It felt like my desk was moving, like somebody was pushing it,” said Ken Walters, a university spokesman who works in Alumni House on Forbes Avenue. “I thought maybe they were doing some work in the office. Then a couple of colleagues came out and asked, ‘You know what’s going on with the building?’ It was weird.”
The switchboard at the University of Pittsburgh received calls from individuals in campus locations including Salk and Bellefield halls and the 42-story Cathedral of Learning, said Loraine Reed, an administrator in telecommunications for Pitt.
Pitt sent out an alert on its phone chain informing people of the quake but saying there was no need for evacuations.
The higher you are in a building, the more you likely you felt the effects, according to William Harbert, chairman of the Department of Geophysics at the University of Pittsburgh.
He’s busy analyzing results of the temblor on Pitt’s seismograph at the Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park.
“We had people charging down the steps from the fifth floor of the geology building,” Mr. Harbert said. “They got shook up pretty well.”
U.S. Steel employees, in the tallest building in the region, were not being evacuated, but U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which is in the building, was evacuated.
Duquesne Light reported all of its systems were secure and had no problems from the quake.
Tremors could be felt in Harrisburg, where staffers in the Capitol promptly left the building. In the ground-level Capitol annex, several House staffers who were having lunch quickly moved out from under a glass atrium. The tremor there was felt at about 1:55 and lasted about 10 seconds.
Richard Pronesti, a top aide to state Rep. Jennifer Mann, D-Lehigh, said, “There is something about being in a 100-year-old building that’s shaking like that that makes you want to get the hell out.”
The Capitol workers returned to work around 2:35.
U.S. Capitol legislative offices also were being evacuated, said Richard Carbo, spokesman for state Rep. Jason Altmire.
Part of the Pentagon, which experienced rumbling and shaking, was also emptied.
Regions as far north as New Hampshire also reported feeling the tremor.
Post-Gazette reporter Jon Schmitz, visiting family in Springfield, Va., was sitting at the dining room table when the rumbling began.
“For an instant, I thought it was a heavy truck going by outside but the shaking got more violent and intense, and my brother-in-law, Paul Hynes of San Diego, said ‘we’re having an earthquake.’ It lasted for about 30 to 40 seconds and shook the house enough to make the walls creak. . . . However, everyone here, including the seasoned earthquake pros from California, was quite shaken up. No pun intended.”
The most severe seismic event in this area occurred on Sept. 25, 1998 and measured a magnitude of 5.2, with its epicenter in the Greenville-Jamestown area of Western Pennsylvania. It was felt as far away as Illinois, New Jersey and Ontario, Canada, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Pittsburgh’s gone crazy, people are being evacuated, traffic is gridlocked, social media sites are blowing up. Even I’m blogging about it. Generally, people are freaking the eff out. But what’s crazy is that this has totally happened before! Back in June 2010, right after we moved into our new office, I had a similar sensation, but didn’t think anything of it, because no one else in the office said anything. When I went home that night, I saw on the news that an earthquake had hit Canada, and that it’s effects were felt as far as Pennsylvania.
Again, from the PG:
An earthquake centered in Canada could be felt by some people in the Pittsburgh area this afternoon.
Reports of buildings shaking came from Carlow University in Oakland and from the South Side, among other locations.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported the magnitude 5.5 quake was centered at the Ontario-Quebec border at 1:41 p.m. It was felt a few minutes later in Western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh police said they have no reports of damage.
News reports said it also could be felt in New York City, New Jersey, Ohio, and Michigan.
Buildings shook in Toronto for almost a minute and several were evacuated.
Like most people who felt the slight tremor in the Pittsburgh area, Wendy Graves, an editor at Akoya, a communications consulting firm on the South Side, wasn’t sure what it was right away, having never been through one before.
“I felt it shake my chair three times, with a few seconds in between each one,” said Ms. Graves, 45, who was working at her job on the second floor of a building on East Carson Street when she felt it at about 1:44 p.m. “After the third one I said jokingly, ‘Is that an earthquake?’ ”
Barbara Olson, a retired cruise consultant who lived in the Los Angeles area for nine years before moving to her present home in Sewickley in 1992, thought she recognized the swaying motion she felt as she worked on her home computer, but she didn’t believe it.
“My first sensation told me, ‘This is an earthquake,’ ” she said, but she and her husband, George, had moved to the Pittsburgh area expecting to escape them.
It wasn’t until a neighbor called to see if she had felt it, too, that she believed it.
“It was a big relief because you think you’re going crazy,” Ms. Olson said with a laugh.
Once Kate Burroughs and her colleague at the Association of American Cancer Institutes, Sara Arvay, confirmed with each other that they were feeling their building on Fifth Avenue in Oakland sway, they didn’t check with anyone else; they exited from their fifth-floor office for 15 minutes until they were sure it was over.
“At first I thought, ‘Huh, this is kind of weird. I’m trying to diet so maybe I’m a little light-headed,’ ” Ms. Burroughs, 54, said. “But I asked Sara and she felt it, too.”
The earthquake originated in an area called the Ottawa River Valley, where huge plates that make up the continent sometimes slip.
The quake likely was caused by a process called “post-glacial rebound,” said Russel Pysklywec, a University of Toronto geologist who said he felt the quake and immediately knew what he was feeling.
“About 10,000 years ago there were glaciers covering us. That ice subsequently melted and the plates are now rebounding upward,” Mr. Pysklywec said. “Normally those stresses are relaxed fairly quietly.”
He placed the earthquake’s depth at 19 kilometers and said the shaking in Western Pennsylvania was the shock rippling outward. By afternoon’s end, he said, the quake would be measured on instruments in Australia, “like an ultrasound of the planet itself.”
Little damage was reported in Canada, according to early reports, though the quake’s reach served a reminder that even in the geologically placid northeast, the Earth still packs the occasional wallop.
“It’s kind of a neat thing in some ways. It shows us how much energy there is in the planet,” said Mr. Pysklywec.
I do not think that this is “neat”, Mr. Whateverthehellyournameis. When did this start happening!? I cannot for the life of me remember feeling any effects of earthquakes prior to that incident in 2010. This stuff never happened when we were kids. I mean, yeah, we had all those ridiculous drills at school…hiding under desks and curling up in our little, fetal positions in the hallway and we always laughed because things like that NEVER happened on the East Coast! (see above cartoon).
Alright, well after further research, apparently there were a few. One about the same size came through in ’98, but I was 13 at the time. I was way too busy being obsessed with Trent Reznor. I didn’t have time to be thinking about earthquakes. Geez. Apparently there was another in 2006, and while I was old enough to remember that, surprisingly, I don’t. Anyone else remember this?
Well, perhaps we’re going to have to start remembering all those drills!
Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like there was any damage and no one got hurt, so at least we have that going for us. Still pretty creeped out, though! Mother Nature is one pissed off lady!