July 16th, 2010
05:29 AM ET

3.6-magnitude quake rattles D.C. area

A 3.6-magnitude earthquake struck near the Gaithersburg, Maryland, area just after 5 a.m. ET Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The center of the quake was about 20 miles northwest of Washington, the USGS said.

"It was really loud, like a plane flying really low. I had never felt anything like it," said Anne Ngunjiri, 30, of Gaithersburg. "I was jolted out of bed. All my neighbors woke up. After it passed, I thought it could be an earthquake, and lay in bed hoping there were no aftershocks."

Judy Rudolph, 64, said she was writing e-mails in bed in Rockville, Maryland, when her house started to shake. "My first reaction was the noise.... I thought it was an explosion," she said. She said she'd never felt anything like it in her 31 years living there.

The last earthquake in Maryland occurred on October 8, 2007, according to the USGS website. It was a 1.7-magnitude quake about 5 miles northwest of Baltimore.

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Filed under: U.S. • Weather
soundoff (336 Responses)
  1. Jenn

    I'm from So Cal. I'm on vacation in DC. When I heard about the earthquake I didn't believe it at first. I slept right through it. Pretty crazy news!

    July 16, 2010 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    USGS reports the Earthquake was caused by bankers jumping up and down in a temper tantrum over the financial reform bill.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tom Dziedzic

    The quake rattled our house in Falls Church for about 7 seconds. It's was 5:04 am. Definitely one of those "what was that?" moments.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. mc

    Again! Mother earth is getting very upset with us. She has taken enough abuse oil spills and if your interested, check out what else we've been doing. and nobody seems to care. So, surely don't be surprized if things get worse.
    http://thestar.blogs.com/maps/2010/07/nuclear-explosions-19451998.html

    July 16, 2010 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      This is the dumbest response I've seen yet.

      July 16, 2010 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • StaciL

      Wait around, I'm sure there will be more! 🙂

      July 16, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      Agreed Mike.

      July 16, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • OARFNY

      They are loose, they walk among us and they post!

      July 16, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. dragun

    I have had stints in both Arizona and California, felt minor quakes there, but for our area this is extremely rare, especially one that tops 3.0. I think someone above mentioned this might be the strongest since they started monitoring them. Though I was in the car on my way to work and therefore felt nothing, my phone started blowing up with messages from relative’s right around 5:30. Interesting experience though a bit frightening was the overall gist I got from all their comments. Question I have for the USGS, is this just a random event or is their possibly a small fault line becoming active?

    July 16, 2010 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ed

    I noticed this. The house shook a little. I had gotten up at 4:50a to go to the bathroom and hadn't fallen back asleep yet. I thought it was a plane taking off at Dulles, but it seemed more dramatic than usual – and, it was too early. At the time, I wondered if it was an earthquake!

    July 16, 2010 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kim

    Powerful shaking awakened me at 5:04am. Even during the 5 or 6 seconds I knew it couldn't be a truck passing at that time of morning or animals running through the yard. The house shook, the bed shoook, and the windows rattled steadily. I figured it must be an earthquake and then I turned on the news to make sure that it wasn't imagined. This was in Silver Spring, MD.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    Not felt 25 miles south of DC. I was awake at the time.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. EastGhostCom

    Who's in Germantown – Gaithersburg area......Well, NIST / FEMA in Gaithersburg has a nuclear reactor on site. And there's Dept. of Energy in Germantown. Hmmmmmm

    July 16, 2010 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Ike

      Or it could just be what happens thousands of times a day on this planet......a natural earthquake. You really need to take off the tinfoil hat and live a little.

      July 16, 2010 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. mc

    2012 peaple! 2012....

    July 16, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Moskovskiy Vokzal

      Is John Cusack gonna save us by flying an Antonov-225 to China?!

      July 16, 2010 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dumfries, VA

    i have never felt an earthquake in my life.. i'm curious, but not really.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. Christina

    I felt it and I live in northern Baltimore County, just south of the PA line. It woke me up this morning, but at 4:45, not at the official time of 5:04.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      Oops...just realized that the clock in our room is 20 minutes slow. Yep...it was just after 5am!

      July 16, 2010 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. sonpav

    I live in Boyds, MD , right next to Germantown. I was awake and suddenly heard a sound I would also compare to a train coming through the building. First time for me, scared the crap out of me. The sound woke up my husband, but not our teenager. The dog wasn't impressed.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Unafy

    Woke me up in Silver Spring, MD

    July 16, 2010 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. kate

    Felt it in Damascus–woke us up. Sounded like a car rammed the house. Shaking didn't last long, luckily. Odd thing was we heard no birds for more than an hour afterward. Their singing usually wakes me at about that time every morning this time of year.

    July 16, 2010 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
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