Update: Aftershocks Follow 5.8 Magnitude Quake

Three aftershocks recorded Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Update - 8:43 p.m. -- Hours after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook Northern Virginia, an aftershock measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale struck the area again, according to the United States Geological Survey.

This aftershock, which occurred around 8:04 p.m., according to USGS, was the third recorded today. The first measured 2.8 at 2:46 p.m., followed by another measuring 2.2 at 3:20 p.m.

All three aftershocks, as well as the initial earthquake, occurred near Mineral, Va., about 35 miles northwest of Richmond and 84 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

The first two aftershocks were measured to be less than one mile underground; the third was about 4.8 miles underground, USGS data says.


Original Story

Dozens of patrons at the Panera in West Springfield hid under tables  when shaking rocked the building at about 1:51 p.m.

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed a 5.8 magnitude earthquake started in Mineral, Va. and has been felt as far north as Boston and beyond, and as far south as Atlanta.

"I felt the floor shaking, then I heard a crack and I thought the ceiling was going to come down," said Erin Gilbert, a teacher eating in the Panera in West Springfield.

"I felt the floor rumbling like the Metro was going underneath and I said, 'Get under the table!'" said Erin's friend, Sue.

So far, there are only limited infrastructure damages in Fairfax County, according to Fairfax County officials.

However, voters who were heading to the polls today for the Virginia primary elections while experts check buildings for any structural damage or loose building materials. In Alexandria City, at one location while poll workers evacuated.

All Ft. Belvoir buuildings were evacuated. "We felt a big bump," said Col. Mark Moffatt, deputy garrison commander.  "The response at military installations like this is to clear the buildings until we figure out what the issue is."

"Was that my car?  I thought it was my car.  I didn't think they had earthquakes in Virginia, said Lily Thompson at Ft. Belvoir.

"I've lived in California through many earthquakes, and I never ever thought there would be one in Virginia," said Jen Thompson, a Gainesville resident at the .

Customers at the West Springfield Panera immediately grabbed their cell phones, but couldn't get service.  According to twitter reports, cell phone service was largely out in the area for about an hour, though many people were able to send text messages.

Transportation Impacted

Federal employees were sent home early, and heavy traffic was reported along I-66, the Beltway and in downtown Washington.

VRE and Amtrak trains are running at reduced speeds, and afternoon service may be delayed. Check the VRE, Amtrak and WMATA sites for further details.

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are checking Virginia bridges. They ask drivers to report any road infrastructure problems to 1-800-FOR-ROAD.

Minor Damage at Some Schools

At 4 p.m., Fairfax County Public Schools said they'd received reports of earthquake damage at some schools.  In an email, FCPS media specialist Mary Shaw said those schools will be inspected today. "If this assessment determines that a more extensive structural damage assessment is needed, those buildings will be closed until that is completed," she wrote.  All schools will be inspected this week. 

What To Do

Fairfax County provided these tips for safety during an earthquake.  Aftershocks are normal. Two aftershocks were reported—one at about 2:45 p.m. and another one around 4 p.m. Fairfax County residents were not able to feel either aftershock.

Here are FEMA's guidelines for what to do after an earthquake.

After any natural event, fly-by-night operators may come into affected areas, looking to make a quick buck off of residents who aren't educated about consumer protections. The Commonwealth of Virginia has a consumer protection division that will investigate these things. More information on protecting yourself from scammers after a disaster is available online from the Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Molly Field August 24, 2011 at 02:23 PM
I was at the Burke Target with my kids. I first thought a VRE train had derailed because I *heard* something first; then the floor started to rumble and stuff started falling off the shelves. My son tripped and fell down. Then the shelves themselves started to sway and the floor looked like it was undulating. The lights stayed on, but the ceiling tiles looked like it was warbling. All this happened for about 8-10 seconds. By the time I started to think that what was happening was truly serious and started to look for a door jamb (which in Target there are none...), it was over. The shoppers were mostly calm and actively curious, but nothing stops Target faithful, they calmly wheeled their carts to the checkouts and decided that once it was calm again, it was time to go home... but not without their stuff. I wanted to leave, but my kids knew I wasn't coming back for the Nerf guns we had in our cart, so they prevailed. The biggest irony, people were still coming in too... it was surreal. I wonder what will shake some people... they seemed truly unfazed, like this happens all the time. (Incidentally, I do recall the 3.9 & 4.3 quakes in 2003, but this tops them both.) I was just glad we were ok.When I got home, hanged paintings and mirrors were off kilter, things had fallen off shelves and my dog was very relieved to see us. We are very lucky.
Kristin Blankenship August 25, 2011 at 11:33 AM
Did anyone feel the aftershock last night? It woke me about 1am Thursday morning.
Burkegirl August 25, 2011 at 01:53 PM
Yes. My husband was up and he felt it.
Nancy Ehlke August 25, 2011 at 02:32 PM
I was voting in the Primary. I had just picked up my ballot and began to mark it when the table started shaking. The entire room started moving as if it was on an escalator gone berserk.
Lisa K. Brown August 25, 2011 at 02:33 PM
It woke me up too, but I thought maybe I was just dreaming or something. Glad to know I wasn't crazy!


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