Did you feel it? Small earthquake shakes Central Maryland

A small earthquake shook parts of Central Maryland in the overnight hours of Wednesday morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 2.1 earthquake was centered in Clarksville, Maryland, at 2:11 a.m. with a depth of about 1.8 miles.

Over the next several hours, the agency received over 500 responses through its Did You Feel It site from residents across several Maryland counties including Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Carroll, as well as the District.

Most reported weak to light shaking, on a scale ranging from not felt to extreme.

Public reports of shaking from Wednesday morning’s earthquake submitted to the USGS as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. (Courtesy USGS)

“Was in the basement and thought someone above me was dragging a humongous piece of furniture across a wood floor,” an Olney resident told WTOP. Listeners in Cloverly, Columbia and Annapolis described a deep, thunder-like vibration, as if large machinery were rolling down the street.

“There was a big rumble, and the house shook for about three or four seconds,” said Karen Burrows, who lives in Highland near the epicenter.

WTOP's Acacia James spoke to listeners who felt the quake across the region.

Shaking was felt as far away as Frederick, more than 30 miles northwest of the epicenter in Clarksville, and in Annapolis, about 25 miles to the southeast.

“It’s a shallow earthquake which is relatively common for events in the eastern United States,” USGS geophysicist Robert Sanders said. “We wouldn’t expect any significant aftershocks from an event this small, and anything else that might happen would be isolated to a much smaller radius.”

While often thought of as a West Coast phenomenon, the East Coast is no stranger to the occasional quake — Maryland included.

Earthquakes east of the Rockies are generally weaker but felt across a wider area than those out west. The Maryland Geological Survey says that while the state “seems to be part of a seismically quiet zone,” at least 47 measurable tremors have been observed within its borders since late 1993.

The state’s most noticeable seismic events tend to be centered elsewhere: 2011’s Virginia earthquake was widely felt throughout the region at magnitude 5.8, damaging two apartment buildings in Temple Hills.

Maryland’s largest confirmed earthquake on record within state lines was a 3.1-magnitude event in 1978 near Washington County, but a 1939 quake in Baltimore County may have been stronger.

Howard County experienced a 2.5-magnitude quake on March 9, 1993, under Columbia.

There were no initial reports of injuries or damage from Wednesday’s tremor. MGS says earthquakes in the D.C. region seldom result in significant damage or injury.

If you felt the quake, let us know your experience by calling the WTOP talkback line at 844-282-1035.

WTOP’s Jose Umana contributed to this report.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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