Quake Shakes Carolinas
1:00 pm
Tue August 23, 2011

Quake Shakes Carolinas

Today's earthquake was an unusual event, but not unheard of in the Carolinas.

"I think I just felt an earthquake." We heard several versions of that statement today.

But Sean Hanraham of Troutman had little doubt what was happening. He's from Southern California, after all.

"I thought the wife was making a lot of noise upstairs, and then I started looking around and noticed shelves shaking a little bit, and I could feel it in my feet," Hanraham said. It didn't feel like anything major, but It was enough that I sensed there were things around me moving that shouldn't be."

Today's 5.8 magnitude earthquake in northern Virginia was felt from Massachusetts to Columbia, SC.

"This one in Virginia was probably 100 times bigger than your typical little earthquake that occurs in our part of the world," says seismologist Thomas Owens, who heads the South Carolina Seismic Network.

He says today's quake is an important reminder that the East Coast is not immune to significant quakes - the biggest being in Charleston, SC, in 1886. That quake is estimated to have been about a 7.3 and was felt as far away as Chicago.

And in 1913, a 5.5 earthquake struck Union County in upstate South Carolina and was felt in much of Southeast.

Owens says an earthquake needs to be around 2.5 to feel it. He says roughly a half-dozen small quakes annually hit South Carolina. Charleston accounts for half of the state's earthquake activity. A 2008 earthquake registered at 3.6.

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