Residents across the Midwest were awakened Friday morning at about 4:37 a.m. by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that rattled skyscrapers in Chicago's Loop and homes in Cincinnati but appeared to cause no major injuries or damage.
An aftershock near the location of the first earthquake was reported on the U.S. Geological Survey Web site later Friday morning at about 10:15 a.m. That aftershock was listed at a magnitude of 4.5. It was one of several aftershocks to hit the area, The Associated Press reported.
Marc Kirkpatrick, a shift supervisor at the 911 Public Safety Joint Communications Center in Columbia who began work at 7 a.m. Friday, said the previous shift fielded "a couple of calls from people reporting some things shaking but nothing that was doing any damage."
He said the information was passed on verbally by the previous supervisor on duty. "They acted like it wasn't that big of a deal," Kirkpatrick said, calling the calls "more of an informational type of thing."
Columbia is about 276 miles from the epicenter, according to Google Maps.
By 11 a.m., the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program had fielded 24,267 reports from people who felt the quake across the region. There had been 80 reports from people with Columbia ZIP codes, and all were rated as "weak shaking," the lowest level of intensity. Of the Columbia reports, 24 were from the 65201 ZIP code; 23 from 65202; and 33 from 65203.
Connie Cashion of Holts Summit said in an e-mail to the Missourian that the earthquake woke her up while she was sleeping in her mobile home. "I wondered what was going on; thought my mobile home was shifting on its blocks," she said in the e-mail.
Other readers who e-mailed the Missourian reported they felt the quake in Columbia and Glasgow. Rhonda Durrett, a reader from Madison, Ala., who said her daughter attends school at MU, said she felt the quake there. Madison, located in northern Alabama, is about 321 miles from the epicenter, according to Google Maps.
"I was awake before the quake and was reading in bed. At 4:38 a.m., my bed began to move around on the 'old' hardwood floors. The wood was snapping, not loudly, but enough that I knew it was a quake," said Mona Cenatiempo, a reader who e-mailed the Missourian after the quake. "I couldn't wait to get up and check the news to confirm what I felt."
The Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis reported that the quake was in the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone located in southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana.
The center put the epicenter of this morning's quake 127 miles east of St. Louis and 40 miles north-northwest of Evansville, Ind. A 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck the area near Evansville on June 18, 2002, according to the center. It notes: "Recent studies have indicated that the New Madrid Seismic Zone is not the only 'hot spot' for earthquakes in the Central United States."
An earthquake report posted at 8:16 a.m. Friday by the National Weather Service in St. Louis said minor damage had been reported that ranged from "pictures and other items falling off walls to cracks in foundations and windows."
The Missouri Department of Transportation reports that it is inspecting bridges in the eastern part of the state to ensure their safety following the earthquake. Inspectors plan to examine about 2,500 bridges Friday, with major river crossings as the top priority, followed by bridges on major highways, and then the bridges on minor routes.
In a news release, Gov. Matt Blunt said state public safety agencies stand ready to lend assistance to any community in the state that needs it.
Across the Midwest, people told their stories about the early morning rattling.
"It shook our house where it woke me up," said David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of Champaign. "Windows were rattling, and you could hear it. The house was shaking inches. For people in central Illinois, this is a big deal. It's not like California."
Bonnie Lucas, a morning co-host at WHO-AM in Des Moines, said she was sitting in her office when she felt her chair move. She grabbed her desk, then heard the ceiling panels start to creak. The shaking lasted about 5 seconds, she said.
The quake is believed to have involved the Wabash fault, a northern extension of the New Madrid fault about 6 miles north of Mt. Carmel, Ill., said USGS geophysicist Randy Baldwin.
The last earthquake in the region to approach the severity of Friday's temblor was a 5.0 magnitude quake that shook a nearby area in 2002, Baldwin said.
"This is a fairly large quake for this region," he said. "They might occur every few years."
Baldwin said the USGS revised the quake's magnitude from 5.4 to 5.2.
Irvetta McMurtry of Cincinnati said she felt the rattling for up to 20 seconds.
"All of a sudden, I was awakened by this rumbling shaking," said McMurtry, 43. "My bed is an older wood frame bed, so the bed started to creak and shake, and it was almost like somebody was taking my mattress and moving it back and forth."
Lucas Griswold, a dispatcher in West Salem, said the Edwards County Sheriff's Department received reports of minor damage and no injuries.
"Oh, yeah, I felt it. It was interesting," Griswold said. "A lot of shaking."
Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Todd Ringle in Evansville said there were no immediate reports of damage.