The DC-area earthquake as it happened live on WTOP

WASHINGTON — Five years ago Tuesday, a magnitude 5.8 East Coast earthquake rattled D.C., sparking brief panic and evacuations of major government buildings and causing lasting damage to the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral.

The terrifying, perplexing incident happened live on the radio.

Former WTOP anchor Richard Day was in the studio when the quake struck. Shortly after 1:53 p.m., he cut into a story on the science behind how dogs smell. “We have been feeling the shakes here in Northwest Washington,” he said. The phones in the WTOP newsroom were ringing off the hook.

The moment shortly after 1:53 p.m. when WTOP first reported the earthquake

Later, more details began pouring in. WTOP afternoon anchor Shawn Anderson began filling in some of the blanks in this breaking news update.

WTOP's Shawn Anderson with the breaking news

WTOP reporter Michelle Basch was in her car near L’Enfant Plaza. When the car began shaking up and down, her first thought was: “Is somebody playing a trick on me?”

WTOP reporter Michelle Basch

WTOP Kristi King on the moment her kitchen floor “began to roll like the deck of a ship.”

WTOP reporter Kristi King

WTOP’s Capitol Hill correspondent Dave McConnell had the day off — Congress was on recess that week.

WTOP Capitol Hill Correspondent Dave McConnell
Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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