By David Noss
This interactive map shows the center of the earthquake approximately 30 miles northwest of Richmond, Va. View Larger Map
CALLAWAY, Md. (August 23, 2011 @ 1:57 p.m.)—An earthquake shook Southern
Maryland at approximately 1:51 p.m. today. We have confirmed that homes shook
and swayed in Callaway, Great Mills, and Lexington Park for several seconds
(various witnesses report times ranging from 3 to 15 seconds). A loud rumbling sound was also heard by some witnesses.
The U.S. Geological Survey lists the quake as a 5.9 magnitude at a depth of 6.0
approximately 30 miles north-west of Richmond, Virginia at 37.875 latitude, -77.908 longitude. USGS lists
the time of the quake as 1:51:03 p.m. Eastern (15:51:03 UTC).
The Associated Press is now reporting that the quake was felt in Washington,
D.C., New York City and North Carolina.
Within the past eighteen hours,
USGS lists 24 earthquakes throughout the world ranging in magnitude of 2.5
to 5.9. This afternoon's Virginia quake is the most powerful of the lot.
Nine of the 24 recent quakes struck in Colorado.
2:30 p.m.: The Charles County Dept. of Emergency Services reports that as
of 2:15 p.m., the Harry W. Nice Bridge in Newburg is closed. The bridge spans
the Potomac River into Virginia. The bridge will remain closed until a safety
inspection is completed, say authorities.
2:40 p.m.: Various witnesses throughout the region are reporting that
cell phone service is down.
2:49 p.m.: USGS has upgraded the magnitude of the quake from 5.8 to 5.9.
If you felt the quake, you can report your
experience to the USGS so they can evaluate the extent of the event and any
subsequent damage. See what other people have
reported to USGS. Share your experiences with other readers by posting in
the Reader Comments section below. Numerous discussions are also ongoing in the
Community Forums (The administrator is
reviewing and approving new account requests as they come in).
3:08 p.m.: Governor O'Malley tweets that he is currently being briefed by
the State Police Superintendent. "We have no reports of major damage but
continue to monitor the situation," tweeted O'Malley.
The State Highway Administration (SHA) reports that crews are evaluating bridges
for structural integrity with priority being given to larger and very tall
The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) reports that their outgoing alert
emails are being severely delayed due to an overwhelmed internet.
updates are available online, although we have experienced timeouts trying
to load the page. Follow MTA updates on
3:30 p.m.: Calvert County Sheriff: There are no plans to close the Thomas
Johnson Bridge at this time.
3:32 p.m.: USGS reports an aftershock very near the epicenter at 2:46:50
p.m. of magnitude of 2.8. Center was 37.931 LAT, -77.935 LON at a depth of
0.1 km. USGS official says be prepared for aftershocks. CNN reports that
North Anna nuclear power plant, located in Louisa County in central
Virginia, northwest of Richmond, near quake center has been shutdown.
somd.com administrators report that Community
Forums are under unusually heavy load. This, coupled with reported
internet slowdowns due to increased earthquake-related traffic may cause slow
performance or connection problems.
3:41 p.m.: Waldorf Ford has posted a
video of their shop area shaking during the earthquake (shaking starts
around 0:40 seconds in).
3:44 p.m.: Calvert County Government statement:
The Calvert County Commissioners have activated the county emergency operations
center in response to the earthquake that struck the East Coast this afternoon.
Non-essential county government operations have been suspended. A public hearing
on the county water and sewer plan scheduled for 7 p.m. this evening has been
County officials have been in contact with Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.
The plant has declared an Unusual Event. The plant is stable and there has been
no loss of power at the facility.
Limited damage has been reported at some county buildings including schools.
There have been no reports of injuries.
First responders are investigating businesses and residences that have reported
problems including odors of gas. Responders are also checking shoreline cliff
areas for damage.
Residents should call 911 in the event of an emergency while all others are
encouraged to stay off phone lines to avoid overburdening the system. Residents
should tune it to local radio and television stations for more information.
3:46 p.m.: Maryland State Police statement:
Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Marcus Brown has placed all State
Police personnel and resources on standby to respond if needed following the
All Maryland State Police barracks throughout the state reported feeling the
quake, but as of 2:30 p.m., they have received no reports of serious injuries.
Troopers are in contact with local emergency operations centers and local law
enforcement to coordinate efforts to gather information and respond to needs in
their areas. Troopers are on patrol across Maryland assessing their areas of
responsibility for any injuries to citizens or major damage.
State Police officials are in contact with the Maryland Emergency Management
Agency and other state response agencies. Response efforts will be coordinated
with MEMA per established state emergency response procedures.
All State Police helicopters are safe and have been moved out of their hangars
as a precaution. State Police helicopter crews are standing by their aircraft
ready to fly emergency missions if called upon.
Maryland State Police Special Operations Division personnel have reported to
their posts and are on stand-by to respond if needed. This includes personnel
from the STATE Team, the K-9 Unit, state search team and other specialized
Colonel Brown is in Annapolis with Governor Martin OMalley and other state
officials. They are working with MEMA to ensure accurate assessments are made in
every area of the state and appropriate resources are deployed if needed.
3:48 p.m.: MTA Commuter Bus statement:
Afternoon service will operate as scheduled. Delays are possible in all areas.
We regret any inconvenience and appreciate your patience at this time.
4:00 p.m.: St. Mary's County Government statement:
People are urged to only use their phones for emergency purposes only. The 911
emergency phone lines are for emergencies only. Please do not use this number
unless it is an absolute emergency. For structural damage reports or non
emergency calls, please call 301-475-4911.
4:05 p.m.: USGS has downgraded quake magnitude from 5.9 to 5.8—the
value originally reported. Gov. O'Malley reports he has been briefed that no
major damage has been reported. More info on
Md. Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Web site
(Site may be slammed).
4:13 p.m.: St. Mary's Co. Public Schools statement:
Due to the earthquake, all school activities are cancelled for the remainder of
the day, Tuesday, August 23, 2011. As a precautionary measure, St. Marys County
Public School officials are assessing the condition of all school system
buildings. Stay tuned for updates throughout the evening. If no further
announcements are made, schools will open as scheduled on Wednesday, August 24,
4:16 p.m.: Calvert Cliff's Nuclear Power Plant has issued the following
Per our emergency procedures, we have declared an "Unusual Event" at Calvert
Cliffs. An Unusual Event is the lowest of four emergency levels. Both Calvert
units remain at 100 percent and are stable.
4:20 p.m.: Charles Co. Government statement:
There have been no injuries or broken water mains reported at this time. As a
safety precaution, visual inspections will be conducted at all County Government
A liberal leave policy is in effect for Charles County Government employees for
the remainder of the work day today.
As of 3:45 p.m., the Harry W. Nice Bridge in Newburg remains closed pending the
completion of a structural safety inspection. According to the Maryland
Transportation Authority, it is estimated that the bridge may be closed for an
additional one to two hours.
The Charles County Sheriffs Office has placed variable message boards on Route
301 informing motorists that the Nice Bridge is closed. The Sheriffs Office has
also initiated traffic control activities at the approach to the NICE Bridge
where all traffic is being turned around. As a result, there is no traffic
congestion on Route 301 in at this time. Cliffton on the Potomac, Swan Point,
and Cobb Neck residents should be able to travel home without significant delay.
Residents should call 911 in the event of an emergency while all others are
encouraged to stay off phone lines to avoid overburdening the system.
4:43 p.m.: Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge on Route 301 has been re-opened
to traffic. The safety inspection has been completed.