Some residents in North Carolina were jolted awake early Sunday morning as the largest earthquake to hit the state since 1916 struck near Sparta, N.C. The United States Geological Survey reported the magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck at 8:07 a.m EDT.
The epicenter was located near the border of North Carolina and Virginia and was felt in many parts of the eastern United States. The depth was 2.3 miles.
This rather strong earthquake sparked minor to moderate shaking that was felt across North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio and Kentucky.
The structure of the Earth’s crust is partially to blame for the tremors reaching as far as they did.
“This has to do with the way the crust is made up and that it’s more or less continuous compared to areas out west. That allows for waves to travel out to great distances, even though they are weaker compared to the west coast,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz said.
Semi-retired race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., who lives in Mooresville, N.C., reported feeling the earthquake shortly after the quake struck.
“It felt like a big locomotive going by and a big wave coming underneath the bed,” Sparta Mayor Wes Brinegar, who was awakened by the quake told CNN. “A big wave coming to lift you.”
The mayor said he has never felt anything like that in his life and reported some houses had cracked foundations.
“We’ve had a lot of scared folks this morning,” the mayor said. “That was the most intense one we’ve ever had.”
Minor damage to houses could be expected around Sparta due to its shallow depth of 5 kilometers.
The area has experienced higher-than-usual earthquake activity with a smaller magnitude 2.6 earthquake that was felt by residents earlier on Sunday, as well as multiple other weaker ones on Saturday. Two more temblors struck a few miles from Seymour, Tennessee, last weekend, the USGS reported.