Web Extra Tuesday, April 29, posted at 10:50 a.m.

Shaking in the South

This morning, a magnitude-4.9 earthquake struck just east of Fort Payne, Ala. Felt from North Carolina to Mississippi, the quake awoke confused southerners from their sleep just before 5:00 a.m. "We thought it was wind; we didn't know what it was," says a Georgia resident.

The tremor's epicenter was along the border of Georgia and Alabama, about 37 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tenn., and 115 miles northwest of Atlanta. Since the earthquake struck, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has received more than 5,500 reports to its "Did you Feel It?" Web site. Damages though are minimal, with reports of power outages and fallen trees.

Alabama's known seismic history spans about 100 years. The first recorded major earthquake shook the western part of the state in February of 1886. According to the USGS Web site, moderately damaging earthquakes occur about every 20 years in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Earthquake waves travel farther in the East than they do in the West, so an eastern quake rattles a much larger area.

Lisa M. Pinsker


National Earthquake Information Center
Did You Feel It?
Yahoo News story

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