According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the quake happened at 1:51 p.m. at a depth of 3.7 miles. The quake was centered 27 miles east of Charlottesville, Va., near the town of Mineral in Louisa County, Va.
The movement lasted for no more than 30 seconds.
Minutes after the quake, the director of the USGS, Marcia McNutt -- who watched objects falling from the shelves in her office -- cautioned that the shaking might not be over.
What the concern is, of course, is that this is a foreshock. If it's a foreshock, then the worst is yet to come, McNutt told The Washington Post.
Residents in Northern Virginia described it like a freight train coming through the house.
The streets of downtown Washington filled with thousands of people Tuesday afternoon as buildings were evacuated.
There were no immediate reports of damage in Washington. However, The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that the Richmond police began receiving calls about possible property damage immediately after the event.
It's unclear if there have been any injuries in Louisa County.
The epicenter is not far from Dominion Virginia Power's North Anna nuclear plant. The earthquake knocked out power, but the utility manually shut down both nuclear units without incident and no damage was apparent, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.
We did lose on-site power, but all the diesel generators are up and running, Dominion spokesman Richard Zuercher said 30 minutes after the quake. Everything appears to be operating just fine.
William Harper, an employee with the town of Mineral in Louisa County, reported some building damage at the municipal offices to the paper as well.
Here's a look at one Virginia resident touring her home just after the quake: