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July 16, 2010

Yes, it was an earthquake


The US Geological Survey is reporting a 3.6 magnitude shaker at 5:04 a.m. EDT today, centered in the Gaithersburg area. That's pretty minor, but unusual for Maryland and quite enough to be felt across much of Central Maryland, as the map suggests. 

UPDATE: Here is the current Sun story on the quake.

I had this report this morning from Brian Heinz, in Columbia:

"I was sleeping and felt the bed shaking and felt as if the house was shaking as well.  When I came to, I looked at my Verizon cable box and the clock said 5:05. I immediately thought it was an earthquake or a plane going overhead, because of the noise.  I feel like the earthquake actually made noise or it was the house shaking.

"I went back to bed and just woke up and checked the USGS earthquake map. An earthquake happened at 5:04 am in the Potomac/Shenandoah Region. AWESOME.

"Finally met one of my three random goals in life. Feel an earthquake, see a tornado, and be in a hurricane."

Steve Zubrick, the science officer at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va., sent this:

"Big news down here. I felt the house shook as it woke me out of a dead sleep just after 5 am."

Any one else?  Leave a comment.

There are some details from the USGS about this here. And here's more on the history of earthquakes in Maryland. And here's a little on the most recent quake reported in Maryland, just outside of Baltimore, in 2007.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:14 AM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Earthquakes


Frank: I live in South Laurel and just awakened. I can only describe it as a deep rumble, almost a grinding sound and everything in the apartment briefly shook. I actually waited to listen for a heavy truck going down the street but when I realized there was no traffic, I said to myself, "If I didn't know better, I'd say that was an earthquake." Quite the TGIF wake up call.

My husband had gotten up earlier and was downstairs while I remained in bed. Just after 5:00 a.m. I heard a low rumbling sound and felt shaking. I called out to my husband, "What are you doing?" He replied, "Nothing." Our house is at least 1/5 of a mile from Route 26 in Eldersburg so I knew it wasn't a truck. He came up stairs and we looked at each other at which time I said, "I think it was an earthquake." Unbelievable and amazing.

I felt it in Upperco while lying in bed this morning. Items were rattling in my bedroom and it sounded like a tractor trailer was passing or like someone was using a jackhammer outside.

I'm in Hunt Valley -- I heard a rumble too. I thought it was someone rolling a cart in the halls of our condo building.

I live in Allview Estates, in Columbia, and heard and felt the earthquake at 5:05 AM also. The sound, however, was quite different from the sound associated with the swarm of quakes centered in our neighborhood in 1993-94. Those started off with a distinct bang! and then the rattling. This was just a rattle -- perhaps because the epicenter was far off.

I slept right through it. Animals didn't jump in bed neither. One family member was up at the time getting ready for work and didn't even feel it. We are located near I-97 and Quarterfield junction. Maybe it missed passing waves through here?

I felt it too. I awoke wondering if I was dreaming about the earthquake I felt in Syracuse NY last month, only to read about this just now! Definitely felt and I think heard a rumbling noise also - but thought I'd been dreaming!

I live in Frederick and around 5am I heard a loud sound and my pet birds were screaming and thrashing against their cages. I didn't put two and two together until a coworker gave me the news when I got to work this morning!

Frank: I live in Baltimore, and I can only describe it as a wild ride, at first I just thought it was because of the weight of the girl I was with, but it turns out it was actually an EARTHQUAKE! I said to myself "My Nana has come for her revenge". Needless to say, it was quite the TGIF wake up call!

I live in Glen Burnie, and was lying in bed. Living so close to BWI, I initially thought it was an airplane, but it took too long to pass. The bed was shaking and the house was rattling. It was such a weird feeling, the rumbling sound sounded just like the jet engines that routinely pass by. What a way to start my Friday!

Kathy: I live in Western Howard County, Lisbon area near Woodbine. Thought a plane was flying low or a truck heading down road around 5:00. But, then the entire house shook with coffee table movement. I heard a loud rumbling noise for at least 5 seconds....sounded like an intense thunderstorm but louder. Within these few seconds, I began to get concerned. I said to myself.....this sure seems like an earthquake, but it just couldn't be!

Felt it here on the border of Glen Arm /Phoenix. To me , it felt like an ocean wave going under my bed from foot to head.I was already awake before it happened but had no idea it was an earth quake until the radio news reported it.
I can now check off an item on my bucket list.

I am in Beltsville, MD and I thought it was wind and a storm but my mom found out through the news that it was an earthquake. It was my first time being in one of those. Cool!

We woke up around 5:10 in Manchester MD close to the PA line and felt our bed vibrating. We thought is was an earthquake.

I was asleep, with the television on and was slightly awaken by what I thought was either something that was on the screen or, a truck going down my street. Interestingly, I didn't turn over to see what was on, nor did I check outside. The rumbling lasted for a few seconds and as I layed there, I thought that maybe today was the last day of earth.

I'm in Columbia. I was lying in bed awake when the house started to rattle. It was confusing; it was a rattling I would associate with a heavy truck going by, or a jet flying very low overhead, but there was no traffic or airplane sound. It only lasted 3-5 seconds, for me. It wasn't until a few minutes later that I thought of an earthquake. Checked the USGS website this morning. Was pleased to see that something really did happen!

I heard the boom and rumble for about 3-4 seconds at 5:03 am. I live in the Perry Hall/Kingsville area by the Gunpowder State park. At first I thought it was a C-130 flying over the house as we are on a flight path for Martin State Airport. I looked out the door and did not see anything. Then, I thought it was the recycling truck, but there was no truck outside.

Yes, Brian of Columbia, I'm sure it was the earthquake making noise though I suppose your house might speak up also as it is jolted. Having lived in San Franciso for 20 years, I heard several of them. They're quite loud and often sound like a very large truck rumbling by.

Felt it in Pasadena, Anne Arundel County. Small objects rattled, the bed shook, I shook. My first quake also.

I felt it in Ashburn, VA at around 5:00 AM this morning. The whole house was vibrating and woke me from my sleep. It lasted for about 5 seconds. I felt the house creak and it sounded like bolts were popping.

I live just outside Westminster MD, in Carroll Co. (about 35 minutes west-northwest of Baltimore). At 5:00 a.m. I awoke to what felt like the house sliding smoothly, as if on tracks, back and forth for about 2 seconds. Being 5:00 in the morning, it was difficult to process coherently, like perhaps it was a dream. I fell back asleep undisturbed.

Felt it in Eldersburg too. Sounded like thunder or a low flying plane, enough to wake me up. The house rattled and the bed shook for just a couple of seconds. I immediately turned on the weather channel but there were no storms in the area. Could fall back asleep b/c I couldn't figure out what it was.

I live in Pasadena, MD. I felt my house shake. I was half asleep. It seemed like it only lasted several seconds. Then later I heard something about a quake on the news. I remember many years ago when we had one. Strange feeling.

Catonsville Maryland. It woke me up and my immediate thought was that it was an earthquake.

I live in Damascus, MD (8 miles north of Gaithersburg) and I'll never forget it. I awoke simultaneously to the bark of my dogs, the "sound" of a freight train, and the vibration of my bed. I honestly thought a plane had crashed or a house exploded. After seeing no smoke outside, I groggily went back to sleep, only to learn it was an earthquake. Awesome experience, indeed.

I live in Frederick, a loud thud sound woke me up and then rumbling and shaking, within a minute or two our family of four was out of the house. Surprisingly I saw none of our neighbors out.

I live in Annapolis and felt it. It woke me up just after 5 am. I could feel the bed shake and the house seemed to be shaking a little too. At first I thought a large truck must be rumbling by, but there was no traffic noise at all. In my half-sleep, I thought "maybe that was an earthquake" and then laughing at myself, went back to sleep. Almost forgot all about it until I read the headlines this morning!

I live in Towson, and I did not feel the quake. I think maybe my dog did, though: not sure of the exact time, but ~ 5am would be a good guess. She suddenly barked -- waking me up -- and jumped up & ran around barking for a minute or so; climbed back into her bed & went back to sleep. This was quite unlike her usual barking behaviour for typical nighttime events, like animals outside or something hitting the roof. I know animals are supposed to have acute awareness for natural events, so maybe she "did" sense the quake. Would be curious as to whether other dog owners observed reactions as well.

Abingdon, Harford County. I was already awake in bed and it was just as everyone else described, about 3-5 seconds of rattling sounds and vibrations. A very low flying helicopter was my first though, or a plane. It was more than truck for sure, but it was very similar to that.

I live in Gaithersburg. I awoke at 5 a.m. to feed my infant daughter. Not long after, as I was holding her, I heard what I thought was thunder. Then my blood ran cold as the rumble continued and then started shaking the house. As quickly as it began, it ended. Everyone else in the house was awakened by it, but they just had passing thoughts of what it could be before they went back to sleep. I'm glad it was "only" 3.6!

I live in northeast Balto. and was absolutely woke up by the quake. It's such a strange feeling because it's hard to process something that's that different and wakes you up like that. I too heard the rumbling sound along with the house shaking. In Balto. City that's a first for me.

Reporting in from Ellicott City here. We're close enough to the airport that in my mostly-asleep state, I thought it was a low-flying plane at first untli I realized the rumbling was coming from underneath. I briefly wondered if it was an earthquake, then fell back to sleep and actually forgot about it this morning until someone else mentioned it.

We had all those little quakes years ago, but this was the first one I actually know that I felt.

Fascinating to me that this happened in the DC area. I wonder what the deal is. I'm curious to see what the scientists will have to say.

I live a 1/2 mile from the epicenter. What I heard and felt was a huge bomb. The ground did not shake back and forth. An earthquake never entered my mind. I was sure Washington, D.C. had been attacked. I called 911 several times and got nothing. I searched the skies for fire. Other Germantown residents said the same - it felt and sounded like a huge bomb.

I was just getting up for work and heard
this loud rumbling and felt the house
shake some. Thought it was a low plane flying over, never suspected a earthquake in Ellicott City.

I lived in California and have been through several earthquakes. None were like this. The house didn't shake. Rather, it was a sonic boom, with rolling, reverberating sound. In earthquakes I've experienced, the sound you hear is that of the building shaking, which you distinctly feel. I, too, thought it was a bomb. I wonder if it was a bomb test.

FR: The epicenter was next door to a Dept. of Energy installation. Let's start a conspiracy theory.

It was my alarm clock , i thought I was
dreaming and reach for the snooze button

Early this morning, I heard the dog start moving around and then bark two sharp barks. Then nothing else. Later, when I heard about the earthquake, I realized what happened.

My sister lives in Spencerville in MoCo and her daughter came flying in saying that there was a quake. My sister heard a lot of rumbling.

On my blog, a lot of DC area people reported thinking it was a low-flying chopper.

I live in the Foggy Bottom area of NW D.C. I was already awake at that time anyway, at my computer. I was momentarily surprised by the shaking and sound but quickly dismissed it as a huge 18 wheel delivery or construction truck that must have been too near the sidewalk. I'm suprised to keep reading reports that D.C. residents were awakened from sleep. Must be light sleepers.

i live in ellicott city,i was awake and i heard rumbling ,i thought some jet plane cross the sound barrier but another second bed was shaken .and i realized in second that was an earthquake.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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