August 23rd, 2011
04:06 PM ET

Earthquake shuts down Virginia nuclear plant

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 struck Tuesday afternoon near Washington, D.C., the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia. The quake was four miles deep, according to the USGS. Did you feel it? Send CNN an iReport.

To get complete coverage and all the latest updates, click on CNN's main story here. View a CNN Open Story about the quake. CNN Open Story combines iReports with reports from CNNers across the globe on a map and timeline.

Update 3:36 p.m. ET: Terminal A at Washington Reagan National Airport has been evacuated because of an odor of gas, airport spokeswoman Courtney Mickalonis said. Initial sweeps of the building showed no major damage from the earthquake.

Light structural damage has been reported in Culpepper and Orange counties in Virginia, said Laura Southard of the state Emergency Operations Center. She said there have been no reports of injuries in Virginia.

Update 3:28 p.m. ET: The White House and adjacent buildings evacuated as a precaution following the earthquake have been given the all-clear, the U.S. Secret Service said. The FBI and Justice Department have also reopened evacuated buildings.

Update 3:25 p.m. ET: East Coast residents should be prepared to feel aftershocks from Tuesday's earthquake, a U.S. Geological Survey official said.

Update 3:22 p.m. ET: The North Anna nuclear power plant, located 20 miles from the epicenter, is shut down and in a safe condition, a company official and the Louisa County public information office report. There has been no release of nuclear material, Louisa County spokeswoman Amanda Reidelbach said.

Update 3:04 p.m. ET: All national monuments and parks in Washington are "stable but closed" following Tuesday's earthquake, a United States Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said. A couple of minor injuries and some minor structural damage have been reported in Washington, following Tuesday's earthquake, according to Schlosser.

Part of the central tower of the National Cathedral, the highest point in Washington, was damaged, according to spokesman Richard Weinberg. "It looks like three of the pinnacles have broken off the central tower," Weinberg told CNN.

Update 3:02 p.m. ET: Amtrak is reporting service disruptions between Washington and Baltimore because of the earthquake, the company reported on Twitter.

Aftershocks are a concern, U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones told CNN. "People should be expecting (them), especially over the next hour or two," she said.

The quake was felt in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New York City and on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama is vacationing. It's unknown if the president felt the quake.

The Pentagon has been evacuated, CNN's Barbara Starr reports. "When the building began shaking rather violently, hundreds of people began streaming out," she said, because many people thought that the building was under attack. Starr was standing in the Pentagon's press office when the roof started to shake.

Cell phone service has been disrupted in New York City, CNN learned within minutes of the quake.

Updated 2:47 p.m. ET: A "considerable amount" of water from a water pipe has flooded two corridors of the Pentagon, according to an announcement in the building. People who work in those areas are being asked to stay in their offices while workers try to repair the damage.

The National Cathedral in Washington is damaged, CNN has confirmed.

And Dominion Generation, which operates the North Anna nuclear power station in central Virginia a few miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, is trying to reach operational staff at the plant, according to a company spokesman. Landlines to the plant appear to be down.

Shortly after the quake struck, traders in the New York Stock Exchange also felt the quake and shouted to each other, "Keep trading!" CNN's business correspondent Alison Kosik reported from the floor at 2:20 p.m. E.T.

Twitter traffic suggests the quake was felt all over the East Coast.

In Philadelphia, HunterPence3 tweeted, "Wow Earthquake just shook the entire locker room!"

In Cleveland, "tribeinsider" wrote "I'm no expert but i think we just had an earthquake here."

And even in Toronto, Canada, tweets said that the shaking could be felt for minutes.

Pete Krech, who works at a business in Fredericksburg, Virginia, likened the sensation to being on a jolting amusement ride. "I was receiving a supply truck," said Krech, store manager at Mattress Warehouse of Fredericksburg, south of Washington. "I felt a vibration under my feet."

Brendan Wein, a sales representative at Hoffman Nursery in Roxboro, North Carolina, said he thought there was a helicopter flying above his work building.  "I was literally shaking in my chair," he said.

CNN iReporter Jeff Yapalater said he was in his backyard in New York's Long Island when the earthquake hit. "Suddenly I felt this light swaying of the Earth. I'd never felt that before, so I thought maybe I was experiencing vertigo for a moment, and it lasted maybe 30 seconds ... We're feeling this really far away!" he wrote.

soundoff (12,567 Responses)
  1. Donna

    Felt it in Pilgrim Knob, Virginia around 2:30

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. phearis

    I felt it in Seattle!

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nildyvette

    Having been raised in SF, you'd think I'd be used to it... who would think here in Potomac, MD

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pooja

    yeah true we felt the earthquake in lynchburg... all of us ran out of our apartments.... the table and windows everything ... vibrated for seconds... after sometime we went back to our houses.... the vibration was terrible....

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Susan

    I'm in Charlotte, NC...was sitting with friends out by in-ground pool. Pool water started to vibrate, soda cans in machine behind me started to rattle. Brothers truck started shaking, hanging plants were swaying, lounge chairs shook. Cell phone line are down. Shaking was mild, that those standing or moving did not feel it. however everyone sitting did. No damage to report.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrea Weber

    Felt in Buffalo, NY

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bill

    iuse to live in Philly, I think the worse we got was a 3.8 so, that was substantial for that area and buildings in the PA, MA, VA and DC area are not built for that kind of disturbance. I forget what the fault along the mountain ranges there are called.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Erika

    all the phones are down

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Shilo

    I was at the pool with my friends and we felt the ground start to shake. We hit the deck and yelled EARTH QUAKE!!! Then the lifeguards came running and asked "Did you guys feel that?" We live in Gainesville VA. We only felt a small tremor but others near us felt much more of a tremor.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gail

    I felt it in NYC ~ Queens. The whole floor shook. Both of our laptops shook. Our dog was sleeping and jumped out of her bed. My first thought was a earthquake, NOT a terrorist attack, remember that THEY are watching us and laughing at all of us. Let's not give ANY credit to a this being a terrorist attack, as the media is stating. I shut the TV as soon as I heard this. LET'S NOT LIVE IN FEAR ~ THEY WILL NOT GET US AGAIN. BELIEVE THAT PLEASE!!!!!!

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Terrie

    Felt the earthquake in St Marys County Maryland about 60 miles south of Washington DC. House was shaking and the cars in the driveway were rocking. Never felt an earthquake before, but knew right away what was going on. Have lived here for 38 years and never heard of earthquakes happening here.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jen

    I felt it in Carlisle, PA, about 30 secs, felt like on a dock at lake, no damage.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. R Barber

    We did not feel it in Oklahoma City. 😦

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gorgon

    We felt it in downtown Boston. I'm pretty sure it's the work of HAARP

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kayla Mae Clement

    We felt it at NC State University! (Raleigh, NC) We thought the building was going to fall!

    August 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 415 416 417 418 419 420 421 422 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 442 443 444 445 446 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 456 457 458 459 460 461 462 463 464 465 466 467 468 469 470 471 472 473 474 475 476 477 478 479 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 494 495 496 497 498 499 500 501 502 503 504 505 506 507 508 509 510 511 512 513 514 515 516 517 518 519 520 521 522 523 524 525 526 527 528 529 530 531 532 533 534 535 536 537 538 539 540 541 542 543 544 545 546 547 548 549 550 551 552 553 554 555 556 557 558 559 560 561 562 563 564 565 566 567 568 569 570 571 572 573 574 575 576 577 578 579 580 581 582 583 584 585 586 587 588 589 590 591 592 593 594 595 596 597 598 599 600 601 602 603 604 605 606 607 608 609 610 611 612 613 614 615 616 617 618 619 620 621 622 623 624 625 626 627 628 629 630 631 632 633 634 635 636 637 638 639 640 641 642 643 644 645 646 647 648 649 650 651 652 653 654 655 656 657 658 659 660 661 662 663 664 665 666 667 668 669 670 671 672 673 674 675 676 677 678 679 680 681 682 683 684 685 686 687 688 689 690 691 692 693 694 695 696 697 698 699 700 701 702 703 704 705 706 707 708 709 710 711 712 713 714 715 716 717 718 719 720 721 722 723 724 725 726 727 728 729 730 731 732 733 734 735 736 737 738 739 740 741 742 743 744 745 746 747 748 749 750 751 752 753 754