Monday, August 10th 2020, 7:41 am - The shaking jolted people awake and resulted in several power outages, with a local state of emergency declared in the town nearest the quake's epicentre.
People across the Carolinas and Virginia were jolted by an earthquake Sunday morning, of a strength so rare in that part of the country that there hasn't been one like it in almost 100 years.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says the magnitude 5.1 tremor struck around 8:07 a.m. at depth of around 3.7 km near Sparta, North Carolina, not far from the border with Virginia.
That is relatively shallow, so it was felt across the region. The USGS says it received 80,000 reports of shaking, mostly from across the Carolinas and Virginia but also in surrounding states.
This marks North Carolina's strongest earthquake since a 5.2-magnitude tremor struck Mitchell County, about 80 kilometres northeast of Asheville, on July 8, 1926, according to the state's Geological Survey. An even stronger 5.5-magnitude quake shook Skyland, in the western part of the state, in 1916.
Sunday's tremor followed several smaller quakes ranging from Magnitude 2.1 to Magnitude 2.6.
There have been no reports of injuries, thus far, but there is some damage in Sparta, a town of about 1,800 people, according to Mayor Wes Brinegar, who noted the foundation of his home was cracked and items fell from shelves inside his home. Allegheny County, which includes Sparta, declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of the quake.
"When it hit here first, it sounded like a long roar of thunder then it shook for about 3 minutes," Emily Poff told North Carolina broadcaster WXII. "It was very intense."
As for what's ahead, the USGS says there are likely to be aftershocks over the next week, with a 37 per cent chance subsequent quakes will be at least Magnitude 3, though the probability of another quake of Magnitude 5 or above is less than one per cent.