Central New Yorkers feel tremors from Virginia earthquake

The CNY Central phone lines and Facebook page lit up just before 2:00 p.m. as viewers from across Central New York reported feeling tremors from an earthquake.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Virginia shook much of Washington, D.C. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. The quake was in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County.

CNY Central Chief Meteorologist Wayne Mahar says the 5.8 constitutes a "moderate" earthquake, but for the East Coast that is quite unusual. This is the largest quake to hit the East Coast since 1897, which was also a 5.8 in Virginia. It is the third largest East Coast quake in recorded history.

CNY Central viewers called into our newsroom and left messages on our Facebook page reporting what they felt. The calls coming in ranged from Cortland and Ithaca in the south to Sandy Creek in the north, Ovid in the west and Rome to the east.

Becky Lawson in Venice Center, near Owasco Lake, says " roommate and I felt the earthquake in Virginia today. We were in the bedroom where our computers are, and the laptop screens wobbled and our chairs vibrated. This lasted for about 30-45 seconds.

Mark Hediger in Westernville adds "I felt a tremor in my couch as I finished lunch. After a few seconds, my mirror on the wall started shaking... One of our children felt it as well - he is about 5 miles North of us. No damage. No noise other than the items shaking on the wall."

Brenda Bauer told us on Facebook that she "Just got off the phone with sister-in-law in VA. Her whole house shook some photos fell, the bank where her daughter works the sign on a post outside fell off." She added that her niece works in Warrington, Virginia.

New York State Police says it has received no reports of any damage. Officials at the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant in Scriba reported "no abnormal seismic activity" and say the plants continue to operate safely at 100% power.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T say their networks were congested as the quake sent people scrambling for the phones. Verizon Wireless spokesman Tom Pica said there was no damage to the company's equipment. He said the crush of phone calls made it hard for some customers to get through for about 20 minutes after the quake but he said the congestion appears to be clearing. Sprint said some customers may be experiencing delays.

U.S. officials say there is no threat of a tsunami along the East Coast. The National Weather Service's West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said the location of the quake was far enough inland that it didn't threaten to trigger a tsunami on the coast. Director Paul Whitmore said the center has gauges up and down the East Coast and none of them were detecting tsunami activity.

In New York City, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance was starting a press conference on the high-profile case involving Dominique Strauss-Kahn when the floor began shaking back and forth. Reporters in the room at first thought colleagues behind them were pushing their chairs. But within a few seconds, the sense that something larger was happening took hold. "Get him out of here!" the DA's security team said and ushered the DA and the others out of the room. Click on the video player to watch video from the news conference.

This is not the first time Central New Yorkers have felt an earthquake in recent memory. On June 23, 2010 a 5.0 magnitude quake originated in Ontario, Canada and shook buildings around CNY. No significant damage was reported from that quake.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.