In the waning hours of 2011, Mother Nature offered up yet another seismic surprise to round out a year of earthquakes in unexpected places — this time a 4.0 quake in Ohio.
The quake struck around 3:05 p.m. Saturday near Youngstown, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was the strongest of 10 quakes recorded in the region in 2011, the agency said.
No major damage was reported, though readers of The Vindicator newspaper in Youngstown certainly had things to say about it on the paper’s website.
“The dogs went crazy!” wrote someone only identified as “HonestAbe.” “I thought a plane went down as we live about 5 miles from the airport. Hadn't felt previous ten earthquakes ... but this one was big!"
The USGS says that the region is no stranger to quakes, though they are indeed rare. Its website notes:
“The Northeast Ohio seismic zone has had moderately frequent earthquakes at least since the first one was reported in 1823. The largest earthquake (magnitude 4.8) caused damage in 1986 in northeasternmost Ohio, and the most recent damaging shock (magnitude 4.5) occurred in 1998 at the seismic zone's eastern edge in northwestern Pennsylvania. Earthquakes too small to cause damage are felt two or three times per decade.”
Still, the Youngstown quake isn’t that surprising when one considers all the other shaking recorded outside of California in 2011.
Earthquakes jangled nerves in Arkansas this year, and another bunch of quakes in Oklahoma — including a 5.6 in November — prompted scientists from all over to descend on the Sooner State in search of answers for all the ground-moving activity.
“Everyone's saying we'll take the tornadoes,” Ashley Gilbreth of Meeker told The Times after feeling another 3.6 temblor in November. “At least you know they're coming.”
And, of course, on Aug. 23 there was the 5.8 earthquake in Virginia that was felt up and down the Atlantic seaboard.
Just this week the National Park Service reported on the extent of the damage suffered by the 555-foot-tall Washington Monument. Cracks and chipped stones were discovered up and down the monument, and extensive cracking near the peak leaves it vulnerable to rain.
But months before the Virginia earthquake, a smaller, though highly noticeable, quake struck the Chicago area. Yes, Chicago.
It hit Feb.10, packed a magnitude of 3.8 and was centered in Elgin, a community about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Illinois residents, clearly not accustomed to such things, offered up 601 comments, exclamations and questions on the Chicago Tribune website.
Californians, who barely look up when a 3.8 hits, might find them of particular interest -- free of smugness, of course. A sampling of the remarks:
“I thought my apartment building was collapsing.”
“This thing scared the heck out of me.”
“I thought so! At least now I know it wasn’t a ghost shaking the bed!”
“I literally got thrown out of bed. I thought at first my dog was laying next to my bed scratching the heck out of herself. Then I got up and ran downstairs – I’m not sure what for though.”
“I thought the snow plow had hit the house!!!”
-- Steve Padilla
Map: Shows location of Saturday's quake. Source: USGS, Google maps