An earthquake? In DC?

2 minute read

August 23, 2011, 3:42 PM

Yeah. It happened.

It’s funny how it happened, too. I was at the office, helping a coworker move offices, and I felt the floor start to shake. My first instinct was to look out the window, since you occasionally can feel vibrations when trucks are moving around in the loading dock area. But there was no truck. Then I realized that the whole building was shaking, and that it must be an earthquake, and so I ended up standing in the doorway of the office next to mine (where my coworker was moving), waiting for the shaking to stop. From that vantage point, I saw everyone else standing in their office doorways looking as perplexed as I was. The lights flickered once for half a second, but once everything stopped, that was it. No further shaking occurred, and there was no damage that I could see. I was half expecting the fire alarm system to start up, but it never did.

A number of my coworkers left the building for a little bit, just in case, but I stayed in, and, like a number of others, tried to figure out what was going on. The Twitter and Facebook certainly lit up with earthquake-related buzz. I cross-posted a message to both services:

Okay… that was interesting. An earthquake in DC. Is everyone all right?
August 23 1:55 PM

Turns out that everyone seemed to make it through the earthquake just fine. My father reported that there was some “serious rumbling” in the Charlottesville area, but no damage. I got a hold of my mother, and she said that they briefly locked down her school (first day of school, no less!) to assess the situation, and then all was well again. She said the only time that they stopped what they were doing was when the ground was actually shaking. And then Sis lives in Chicago. So she didn’t feel anything.

And then Wikipedia already has an article about the earthquake. What can I say – Wikipedians act quickly.

Meanwhile, it’s funny… this was my first earthquake. For a while, I had thought it was going to be in 1990 while we were living in Arkansas. That would be the predicted earthquake along the New Madrid Fault in Missouri that ended up never happening. It was predicted that we would have felt the effects of it in Rogers, Arkansas. To that end, we actually had a classroom earthquake drill in preparation for the predicted earthquake, where we all got under our desks and away from windows. But as mentioned, said earthquake never happened. Then I missed one that happened last year in the Gaithersburg, Maryland area, which is near where I live (I live in Silver Spring, north of Wheaton). In that case, it was very early in the morning, and I never felt it. Seriously, I slept right through it without incident. But this. This was something. Very strange feeling the building shake.

Meanwhile, I’m not looking forward to the commute home tonight, as Metro is announcing major delays due to reduced speeds and the need to conduct track inspections after the quake. I’m bringing my patience and a full iPod of music and podcasts with me to get me through my commute home. Trains will be moving at 15 miles per hour until otherwise advised. Lovely.

Web site: USGS on today's earthquake

Song: Someone rides the earthquake simulator at the Tulsa Zoo. I used to love doing this simulator back in the 1980s, and I'm amazed it's still there after all these years. For those who have been to the Tulsa Zoo, this was a lot less intense than the simulator, and the shaking felt a bit more gentle than the simulator.

Quote: So yeah, pretty bizarre. I'm sure that folks on the west coast are sitting there laughing at us for how we react to these things, since they happen all the time out west, but yeah, these things just don't happen that much on the east coast.

Categories: Nature, Work