City Desk

Yes, That Was An Earthquake

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in central Virginia just shook the District. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the epicenter of the quake was 87 miles from D.C. Here at the Washington City Paper building in Adams Morgan, there was at least 30 seconds of sustained, loud shaking, heavy enough to knock some stuff from shelves and a picture off the wall.

UPDATE: A 2.8 magnitude aftershock was reported about an hour after the first quake, and a second one, with a 2.2 magnitude, was recorded about 90 minutes after the initial rumble. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier emailed out a statement to police-run lists: "DC Police officers are maintaining a heavy police presence in the community. Our helicopter has been flying over for visual assessments with no major damage noted."

D.C. Fire and EMS reports it's gotten nearly 2,000 calls for service since 2 p.m.—the usual average is 450 calls in a 24-hour period.

The steeple at the Mt. Rona Missionary Baptist Church at 13th and Monroe streets NW collapsed:

D.C. Earthquake

The Federal Emergency Management Agency posted tips on what to do in an earthquake, which could come in handy for next time, and a recommendation to text or email, not call, anyone you're trying to contact, as cell phone networks are strained.

At Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, a building was damaged and two people were treated for minor injuries, military officials say.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day (and also follow us on Twitter). Where were you when the quake hit, and what did it feel like? Let us know in the comments or through a tweet.

A government map of the quake's location is below.

View larger map

Photo by Mindy Saraco

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  • Amanda

    We felt the quake in Luzerne, Pa. Shook for about 3 minutes, not hard enough to move anything in the house.

  • pikavippi

    OMG...That was weird! Not safe anywhere in this planet?!

  • Matt

    We felt it on Long Island, NY. Everyone here at the job thought they were just getting dizzy as it was a subtle shaking, similar feeling to getting light headed.

  • Bill Maus

    We felt the earthquake all the way down here in Wilmington, NC., and from the opposite direction Mother Nature is winding up with a fastball expected to strike us Saturday.

  • zadoc

    For a 5.9 quake that caused no damage or injuries, it seems like it's an overraction to evacuate the White House, NYMEX, the Pentagon, et cetera. What do you think?

    POLL: Are building evacuations due to the 5.9 US East Coast earthquake an overreaction?

  • K

    Seemed to shake for a few seconds, then stop, then shake worse for about 30 seconds. At first I thought it was a truck going by, but when the lights started swaying I decided it was time to leave the building.

    Everyone in Chinatown spilled out onto the street, like ants whose hill had been poked by a stick, which was kinda cool to see. Part of the chimney of the Mission building fell down, but no other obvious structural damages. After about 1/2 an hour, pretty much everyone decided to head back inside. A fairly good earthquake, all things considered...

  • J

    It shook pretty strong here in NW - enough for people to start screaming and running

  • Liz

    It shook here for about 15-20 seconds in Harrisburg, PA. It shook hard enough to get your attention, but not enough to really move anything. It still freaked me out. Never experienced that before.

  • Mr. Bigglesworth

    What I take from this is the fact that WCP supports D.C. United. +1 !!!

    (P.S. I think that was God trying to help white people dance.)


    I live in upper Northwest Washington, D.C. The earthquake was so powerful, all the furniture and my entire house shook. I was home today from work. I have never experienced anything like this in my entire life (50 years).

    Native Washingtonian

  • noodlez

    my caps lock key is down due to earthquake. they said my caps lock key should be back up soon.

    yo mad mike it's all fenty's fault and your ceiling tile that fell looks staged!

    one city earthquakin'
    where there is a whole lot of folk shakin'
    the excuse we are using to makin'
    for an earlier happy hour for drankin'
    while california folk are fakin'
    like this shit aint nothin but a lil vibratin'

  • Southeast Ken


  • mighty

    Earthquake?? what earthquake??

  • Ashley

    Felt it all they way up in Cincinnati, Ohio... Thought I was goin nuts but my mother felt it too. Crazy.