4.8 magnitude earthquake centered in New Jersey felt across Pennsylvania Friday morning

Screengrab of earthquake map, April 5, 2024, from US Geological Survey. (US Geological Survey)


By Associated Press

April 5, 2024

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake’s impact in Pennsylvania was primarily felt in the eastern part of the state, though the Pittsburgh area and other small pockets throughout the state were impacted as well.

If you felt the earth move in Pennsylvania shortly before 10:30 a.m. Friday, you weren’t imagining things.

An earthquake shook the densely populated New York City metropolitan area Friday morning, with residents reporting they felt rumbling across the Northeast.

The US Geological Survey reported a quake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8, centered near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, or about 30 miles east of Easton and 60 miles north of Philadelphia. The agency’s figures indicated that over 42 million people might have felt the rumbling.

According to the USGS, the quake’s impact in Pennsylvania was primarily felt in the eastern part of the state, though the Pittsburgh area and other small pockets throughout the state were impacted as well.

The earthquake slowed travel along the East Coast, with some flights diverted and traffic snarled on roads and rails for runway, bridge, and tunnel inspections. Flights to the Newark, New York and Baltimore airports were held at their origins for a time while officials inspected runways for cracks. At least five flights en route to Newark were diverted and landed at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown. according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

Residents in Harrisburg, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia reported their houses shaking and windows rattling.

Sarah Brody and her two daughters were in a 14th-floor Philadelphia hotel room when water in the bathroom sink started quivering. The visitors from Los Angeles immediately recognized the sensation, “and we were not psyched about being on the 14th floor if it turned out to be a major earthquake,” Brody said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said in a post on X that the Pennsylvania Management Agency was actively monitoring the situation and communicating with counties regarding any damage. Philadelphia police asked people not to call 911 about seismic activity unless they were reporting an emergency.

Amtrak said it was inspecting its tracks and had speed restrictions in place throughout the busy Northeast Corridor. New Jersey Transit posted on X that its train system was subject to delays caused by bridge inspections. The Philadelphia area’s PATCO rail line suspended service out of what it said was “an abundance of caution.”

People in Baltimore, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and other areas of the East Coast unaccustomed to earthquakes also reported feeling the ground shake.

Earthquakes are less common on the eastern than western edges of the U.S. because the East Coast does not lie on a boundary of tectonic plates. The biggest Eastern quakes usually occur along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, which extends through Iceland and the Atlantic Ocean.

Quakes on the East Coast can still pack a punch, as its rocks are better than their western counterparts at spreading earthquake energy across long distances.

“If we had the same magnitude quake in California, it probably wouldn’t be felt nearly as far away,” said USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso.

A 4.8-magnitude quake isn’t large enough to cause damage, except for some minor effects near the epicenter, the agency posted on X.

The shaking stirred memories of the Aug. 23, 2011, earthquake that jolted tens of millions of people from Georgia to Canada. Registering magnitude 5.8, it was the strongest quake to hit the East Coast since World War II. The epicenter was in Virginia.

Keystone senior community editor Patrick Berkery contributed to this story.




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