The East Coast was rocked by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake at 1:52 p.m. on Tuesday, sending vibrations from as far south as North Carolina to as far north as Toronto.
The earthquake originated in Mineral, Va., an area between Richmond and Charlottesville, but its impact was felt all along the East Coast. Property damage was reported in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., and multiple major buildings in D.C. and New York were evacuated. In Manhattan, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels were closed.
The rocks are old and cold and they carry the seismic energy very far, Mike Blanpied, United States Geological Survey (USGS) associate coordinator for the earthquake hazards program, told The Washington Post. Even a magnitude six or less earthquake can be felt over a considerably large area, unlike California where the shaking is more concentrated.
Mineral is approximately 45 minutes away from capital Richmond, and the state capital experienced the earthquake's effects.
There was some shaking and you could feel the ground moving, Josh Archut, of Richmond, told IBTimes. We could see our speakers shaking. You could see them moving back and forth and you could see the whole building shaking. But nothing was damaged and we never lost communication. Some people got on Facebook right away and were able to post messages.
In Washington D.C., the U.S. Capitol building was forced to evacuate, as the city was hit by its strongest earthquake ever.
The nation's capital saw mild damage to some of its buildings, including the well-known National Cathedral church. CNN reported the Church experienced damage to its central pole, and a National Cathedral spokesman confirmed to The New York Times that at least three pinnacles on the central tower had broken off.
There was even speculation that the Washington Monument might have been affected by the earthquake, though a Yahoo News report and National Park Service story disputed that claim Tuesday afternoon.
After the earthquake, Virginia and the corresponding area experienced a 2.8 magnitude aftershock, according to the USGS. The East Coast earthquake hit within 24 hours of a 5.7-magnitude Colorado earthquake, though the USGS has stated there is no correlation between the two events.
The Washington, D.C., area and others experienced major phone communication issues, as residents took to Twitter to complain about lack of phone service. Washington D.C., along with other major cities like New York and Philadelphia, initially grounded planes after the earthquake, but most were able to get flights out after a short delay.
Neither President Barack Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden was in the nation's capital when the Virginia earthquake occurred. President Obama was on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, where ABC News reports he was golfing while the earthquake hit, while Biden was in Japan, ironically visiting areas that were hit by last year's earthquake and corresponding tsunami.