Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Maine Earthquake Rattles Much of New England

Residents throughout New England felt some shaking in the evening hours on Tuesday when the region was rocked by a temblor that had a preliminary measurement of 4.0.
“I literally thought my furnace was exploding,” said Portland resident and Brewer native Holly Barber, a guidance counselor at Lake Region High School in Naples. “I live in Deering Center on Pleasant Avenue, and I was right here in my room.”

The quake was centered 3 miles west of Hollis Center and 13 miles northwest of Biddeford, according to the United States Geological Survey, and was just over 4 miles deep. The service notes the quake occurred at 7:12 p.m. Tuesday.

Reports of the quake spread like wildfire through social media. A Facebook group created shortly after it struck, called “I survived the 10/16/12 earthquake,” was liked by more than 38,000 people by approximately 8:20 p.m. On Twitter, users reported feeling the tremors from around the state.

While there were no immediate reports of physical damage, some users reported problems with cellphone providers AT&T and Verizon Wireless and phone provider Time Warner after the quake.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency had no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Spokespeople for AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless said their towers were not damaged.

Andrew Russell, manager of communications at Time Warner Cable, said “there were intermittent service outages after the quake” but service was back to normal late Tuesday night.

But high call volume may have caused problems with service, according to the AT&T spokeswoman
While not unheard of on the east coast, quakes that powerful are relatively rare for New England. In August of 2011, much of the Mid-Atlantic region including Washington DC was rocked by a magnitude 5.8 quake centered near the small town of Mineral, VA.

While I missed out on what was shaking today, I remember growing up as a lad in Western New England and being at a relative's house that was built in the 1770s. Local lore claimed that the residence was haunted and one night, a female relative not much older than me came flying down the stairs, panicked and swearing up and down that one of the rocking chairs in the hallway began rocking back and forth on its own. Not prone to flights of fancy and exaggeration, her claims were taken at face value, and the grown-ups were scratching their heads over some sort of a non-paranormal explanation.

It came on the front page of the next day's newspaper when the headlines announced a magnitude 6 earthquake up in Quebec. We figured that while we may not have actually have felt the quake, it was still strong enough to shake the floors of the old house and make the rocking chair look like it was rocking back and forth on its own.

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