Didja feel the earthquake?

I woke up at 5:30ish realizing the room was moving. Irrationally I thought it might be because of the geothermal installation – maybe the foundations had been disturbed and the house was going to fall down! Or maybe there were burglars, as I heard a crash downstairs. As my brain kicked into gear, I realized it must be an earthquake, leapt (I got air, I tell you) out of bed, and stood in a door, but it was pretty much over by then. I came down stairs anyway to see if it was burglars. It wasn’t.

Nothing was damaged, so far as I can see. My first thought was to call my husband but I didn’t want to risk waking him up; typical academic my second was to go online and see if it was indeed an earthquake. But, of course, minutes afterwards, and still half fogged, the news was not yet posted on my local newspaper’s website. And I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to go to the USGS or somewhere.

Amped up on adrenaline, I didn’t get back to sleep until shortly after 6, when the dawn chorus was in full throat. It will be a tiring day, and another day of commuting, *sigh.*

At the same time, I’m excited I felt an earthquake, and one with little consequences for my community. I had been in earthquakes as a baby in California, but don’t remember them; all my other potential earthquake incidences I was in a basement and so felt nothing. But now – now! I have an earthquake story from my second-story bedroom.

As I was trying to get back to sleep (and failing), I was thinking about how people with kids explain earthquakes to them. Can anyone enlighten me? Did kids think last night’s earthquake was “cool!” or more scary? or both?

Hope you and yours were safe!


  1. #1 Mark Young
    April 18, 2008

    I’m in Downers Grove, about 30 miles directly west of Chicago and although my neighbors say they woke up, I felt nothing and slept right on thru it. Of the two neighbors I talked with, one woke up because her dog started barking at the time and the other one said her jewlery started shaking on her dresser…all in all the second Illinois earthquake I have lived thru and still have not felt a thing.

  2. #2 hypoglycemiagirl
    April 18, 2008

    My only earthquake was a very light one in Switzerland in 2005. It was a boom for a second but then nothing more. I’ve lived in pretty earthquake free areas!

  3. #3 merkin j. pus-tart
    April 18, 2008

    It woke me and my wife up here in Bowling Green, Ky. But it didn’t wake up my 7 year old son. He was disappointed he slept through it.

  4. #4 Mark P
    April 18, 2008

    Although news reports said it was felt as far south as Georgia, I have some doubts. It was not enough to wake me up in north Alabama. But we have had earthquakes strong enough to feel down here. The most recent one (four or five years ago) that I felt in Rome, Georgia, was apparently not associated with an identified fault. It was neat because I distinctly felt the difference in arrival time between the plate-rattling of the P waves and the room-swaying of the S waves.

  5. #5 Propter Doc
    April 18, 2008

    I was totally dissapointed to spend 3 years in the Pacific Northwest and never feel an earthquake, yet when Dr R headed back to the UK ahead of me, he felt a British earth quake earlier this year.

  6. #6 Jay
    April 18, 2008

    It was fairly strong in Louisville, KY. Oddly, my daughter said they had an earthquake preparedness drill at school yesterday. Apparently part of 6th grade earthquake preparedness is to teach kids to turn off their iPods momentarily and shout loudly from the bathroom “Dad, what the heck is that?”.

  7. #7 Amy
    April 18, 2008

    Woke me up in Louisville, KY. The loud rumble was just as confusing as the house shaking. I kept wondering if I had dreamed it, until I turned on the TV…

  8. #8 Lisa
    April 18, 2008

    In Champaign on the first floor on a crawlspace, it certainly woke me up! I asked my husband, who sleeps through anything, if we should get into the doorway (mainly as an excuse to wake him up so he wouldn’t miss it), but he says he doesn’t remember anything. The crib is on wheels and it was creaking and banging for what seemed like a long time, maybe 10 seconds, but the little guy was in our bed and didn’t really wake up.

  9. #9 happay
    April 18, 2008

    yep, we felt it. and I am geek enough that I went to the USGS site and reported it.

  10. #10 James McGrath
    April 18, 2008

    We felt it here in Indianapolis. It seems like disasters accompany the annual Undergraduate Research Conference here at Butler University… 🙂

  11. #11 Mommyprof
    April 18, 2008

    I was in one as a kid that was unexpected like this one, and thought it was mighty cool. But I’m a nerd.

  12. #12 Mad Hatter
    April 18, 2008

    Slept right through it. And so did my dog, according to my husband, who was the only one in our household who woke up. It was very mild here, but the local news is having a field day with it nonetheless. They’ve even got reporters out on the streets interviewing people about their “earthquake experience”!

  13. #13 Ruth
    April 18, 2008

    When the shaking bed woke me at 4:37 in St. Louis, I thought my youngest had crawled in with me. I then assumed it was a small earthquake and went back to sleep. Last time I felt a quake, I was trying to weigh something on an old-style Mettler balance (before digital) but had to wait for everything to settle down.

    Local news is giving it far too much coverage-look for a report on the New Madrid fault on tonights news.

  14. #14 merkin j. pus-tart
    April 18, 2008

    It is about 10:15 am cst in Bowling Green, Ky. and it felt like we just had another tremor.

  15. #15 ScienceWoman
    April 18, 2008

    Damn! I am so jealous. Like propter doc, having lived 5 years in the PNW, you woulda thougt, but no.

  16. #16 Alice
    April 18, 2008

    Yes, I think we felt an aftershock here too — about 11:15 EDT! Crazy. I didn’t notice this one, but it caused a twitter around the office…

  17. #17 Kim
    April 18, 2008

    Report what you felt! Your experience is data for making maps of seismic intensity.

  18. #18 Bing Mcghandi
    April 18, 2008

    I caught the end of it in St. Louis. At some point in the morning, I was realized that I was watching my bookcases move, and hey, and I was awake, and I felt my bed moving back and forth, and then the craziness stopped. A few seconds later, the birds outside my window started to tiwtter irritatingly. That’s when I realized I had not been dreaming it.

    It was other worldly, or, actually, concretely worldly. I have slept through tremors before, but this one was unmissable. My roommate in the other room was woken up and her cat was surprised. My cats, bless ’em, may have looked up but weren’t too concerned. Most amusing, however, was the news coverage. It took about 20 minutes for them to get on the air with it, and they said, yes, there had been an earthquake (for some reason the meteorologist was the one who broke the news). And while he was talking, someone came running into the newsroom and made noise off of camera, and he gently scolded them that he was on the air.

    The morning news crew was in their offices when it happened, and they mentioned the swaying lights and some grumbling. Then, drat it, the traffic person said, “My dog did not leave my side this morning…It makes you wonder.” When do dogs EVER leave you alone, I would like to know? Anyway, a little pattern seeking after the fact, I thought.

    I slept through the aftershock.


  19. #19 Torii
    April 18, 2008

    We felt it in Farmington, MO approximately 136 miles southwest of the epicenter. We also felt the 4.6 that occurred later. Being brought up in California I immediately knew what this was. I called the local police to know that they were aware and stated it had to be 5.0>, next went to the USGS and it had not been reported at this point.
    Later it was interesting to see Larry Conners (of KMOV-TV) in a baseball cap broadcasting the earthquake news…he clearly had not had time to adjust his toupee.
    It is amazing to see how many midwesterners just awoke to the fact that “we built this city on rock and roll…”

  20. #20 ScienceMama
    April 18, 2008

    I grew up in California, so I usually got to feel a couple of earthquakes a year. I always thought they were cool. You got to duck under your desk, run to a doorway, count how many seconds the earthquake lasted, etc etc… When the ’89 earthquake hit the Bay Area, I had so much fun because the shaking lasted almost a minute, and it was one where literally you could see the ground rolling. Then I went home and saw on the news how many people had died in the double-decker freeway collapse and I felt horribly guilty that I enjoyed myself during the earthquake. Ever since then, I’ve always felt guilty and sad whenever an earthquake hit.

  21. #21 Jason R Hunter
    April 18, 2008

    Should have searched, there were lots of posts about it within a minute or two of it happening. I used to search Twitter actually. I don’t know if it was just a coincidence or not, but I woke from a strange dream at 4:38AM… but far away in Abilene, TX… but also around the same time the P-Wave should have been here… Don’t recall feeling anything, but I know it’s definitely not normal for me to get up that early.

  22. #22 Mark Young
    April 18, 2008

    My mother in Springfield Il said that it woke her up and that there is a crack in the street…

    My friend in Atlanta, GA had no idea about it until the news reports…

  23. #23 Andrew
    April 18, 2008

    I was a little kid during the 1957 Daly City quake near San Francisco, and I thought it was REAL interesting, not funny-laughing but not scary-crying either. It was the biggest event in the Bay area since 1906, whose anniversary is today.

  24. #24 Addy N.
    April 18, 2008

    I’m further from the epicenter than you are, but I was woken by it, too. I didn’t quite realize what was going on until I got up later! I wrote a blog post about it….

  25. #25 ecogeofemme
    April 18, 2008

    I’m so bummed that I slept right through it!

  26. #26 M.Z.
    April 19, 2008

    I slept through it in Chicago, but at least I have a good explanation for my apocalyptic nightmare that morning.

  27. #27 Jessica Winter
    April 23, 2008

    I felt it at 5:37 (EST) in Columbus, OH.

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