121026 Hurricane Sandy Slogs Toward U.S., 41 killed in Caribbean

Hurricane Sandy Slogs toward U.S., 41 Killed in Caribbean

By Tom Brown

MIAMI | Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:54pm EDT

MIAMI (Reuters) – Hurricane Sandy, a late-season Atlantic cyclone that threatens to be one of the worst storms to hit the Northeast in decades, slogged slowly northward on Friday after killing at least 41 people in the Caribbean.

Forecasters said wind damage, widespread and extended power outages and coastal and inland flooding were anticipated across a broad swath of the densely populated U.S. East Coast when Sandy comes ashore early next week.

“We’re expecting a large, large storm. The circulation of this storm as it approaches the coast could cover about the eastern third of the United States,” said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Centers for Environmental Prediction.

He stopped short of calling Sandy possibly the worst storm to hit the U.S. Northeast in 100 years, as some weather watchers were doing, but said Sandy was shaping up to go down as a storm of “historic” proportions.

The late-season hybrid storm has been dubbed “Frankenstorm” by some weather watchers because it will combine elements of a tropical cyclone and a winter storm. Forecast models show it will have all of the ingredients to morph into a massive and potentially catastrophic “super storm.”

On its current projected track, government forecasters said, Sandy could make landfall on Monday night or Tuesday in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York or southern New England.

In New York City, the global financial hub, officials were considering closing down mass transit before the storm hits.


Coming in the final weeks before the U.S. presidential election on November 6, the storm could throw last-minute campaign travel plans into chaos.

An aide to Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney said he had canceled a campaign event scheduled for Sunday night in Virginia Beach, Virginia. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign announced that Vice President Joe Biden had also canceled a trip to Virginia Beach scheduled for Saturday.

The Democratic incumbent was traveling to New Hampshire on Saturday, and on Monday was due to visit Youngstown, Ohio, and Orlando, Florida.

Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he and the head of the U.S. National Hurricane Center had briefed the president on preparations for the storm on Friday morning.

“His direction to us again, as always, is to make sure we are prepared to support the states and the governors dependent upon the impacts of the storm,” Fugate told reporters.

Much of Florida’s northeast coast was under a tropical storm warning on Friday, and storm watches extended up the coast through North Carolina. Winds and rains generated by Sandy were being felt across much of Florida, with schools closed and air travel snarled in many areas.

Sandy weakened to a Category 1 storm as it tore though sparsely populated low-lying southeastern islands in the Bahamas late Thursday, knocking out power and blowing rooftops off some homes.

Some further weakening was forecast over the next two days, but the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said hurricane- or tropical-force winds were still likely by the time Sandy hits the U.S. coast.

Sandy’s driving rains and heavy winds were blamed for 41 deaths in the Caribbean, where landslides and flash floods were triggered by the cyclone.

The Cuban government said Sandy killed 11 people when it tore across the island on Thursday. The storm took at least 26 other lives in deeply impoverished Haiti and four people were killed in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

The Haitian dead included a family of five in Grand-Goave, west of the capital Port-au-Prince, killed in a landslide that destroyed their home, authorities said.

The Cuban fatalities were unusual for the communist-ruled country that has long prided itself on protecting its people from storms by ordering mass evacuations.

The National Hurricane Center said Sandy was about 420 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, late on Friday afternoon, packing top sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour).


Sandy was forecast to remain a Category 1 hurricane as it completed it passage over the Bahamas late on Friday, sending swirling rains and winds across areas including Florida.

It was moving slowly, however, making its final trek across the central and northwest corner of the Bahamas islands at 7 mph.

Many forecasters are warning that Sandy could be more destructive than last year’s Hurricane Irene, which caused billions of dollars in damage as it battered the U.S. Northeast.

Uccellini said he was reluctant to make comparisons with other storms. But he warned that a full moon on Sunday added to Sandy’s potential for destruction when it comes ashore in the United States.

“The lunar tide peaks two days after the full moon, and that’s Monday-Tuesday, which is exactly when the storm will be impacting the coastal areas,” he said. “We’ll have heavy rains and inland river flooding is a real potential here.”

Todd Kimberlain said Sandy was somewhat unique because of its integration with the polar trough over the United States.


Heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy causes the Croix de Mission river to swell to levels that threaten to flood the homes along its bank in Port-au-Prince October 25, 2012. REUTERS-Swoan Parker
A man watches heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy cause the Croix de Mission river to swell to levels that threaten to flood the homes along its bank and nearby areas, in Port-au-Prince October 25, 2012. REUTERS-Swoan Parker
Jamaicans shelter themselves from the rain of approaching Hurricane Sandy in Kingston October 24, 2012. REUTERS-Gilbert Bellamy

1 of 9. Heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy causes the Croix de Mission river to swell to levels that threaten to flood the homes along its bank in Port-au-Prince October 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Swoan Parker

 Momma’s Source: Reuters.com
Share This

Hurricane Sandy Barrels Toward US

Hurricane Sandy Barrels Toward US

By KEVIN DOLAK | Good Morning America


East Coast residents are preparing for Hurricane Sandy’s arrival as forecasters expect a “perfect storm” of three different systems that will slam the region early next week.

New York City and northern regions in the eastern corridor are likely to be hit hard and forecasters are warning that the storm may linger for days as it covers a massive area. There is a 90 percent chance that on Monday the East Coast will take a direct hit, forecasters say.

“We don’t have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecaster Jim Cisco told The Associated Press. “It’s almost a weeklong, five-day, six-day event. It’s going to be a widespread, serious storm.”

Sandy, currently a category 1 storm, will cross the Bahamas today as its western fringe scrapes eastern Florida, according to the National Weather Service. The storm is expected to slow and turn northwest overnight and during the day

As of 5 a.m., Hurricane Sandy was approximately 300 miles east of Miami and moving northwest at 13 mph. Florida is expected to see stormy conditions today, with 1-4 inches of rain in some areas. Waves up to 15 feet along the coast are expected, as is a storm surge 1-2 feet along the Florida eastern coat.

Warnings are in effect along Florida’s east coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach. Storm watches are in effect on Florida’s east coast from Flagler to Fernandina Beach and from the Savannah River north to Oregon Inlet, N.C., including Pamlico Sound.

By Saturday afternoon, Sandy is expected to increase its forward speed and become a hybrid storm, pushing a lot of rain into the Carolinas and southern Mid-Atlantic region, with some areas getting more than a half a foot of rain through Sunday.

Sandy’s landfall is predicted to be somewhere in southern New Jersey on Tuesday around 8 a.m.

“I think it’s fair to say we don’t know when or if or where the storm’s going to hit,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference Thursday. “The forecasters say it could be dangerous, but I think a word that they’ve been using most is it’s unpredictable.”

Forecasters told The Associated Press that the storm could linger in the atmosphere over the same locations for five or six days, and that is could bring six inches of rain, 80 mph wind gusts, 20- to 30-foot-high seas and extreme coastal flooding.

The entire system will weaken by the end of next week as is sits over the northeast, but strong winds and rain will remain across the region through next Friday.

Momma’s Source: Good Morning America+yahoo news

Share This

120703 East Coast Outages Could Last Most Of The Week

East Coast Outages Could Last Most Of The Week
Aftermath of deadly storms leaves millions with stifling homes, spoiled food

A grocery store employee piles bags of ice for free distribution in Bethesda, Md., on Monday to help community members affected by Friday’s storm. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Millions of people in a swath of states along the East Coast and farther west went into a third sweltering day without power today after a round of summer storms that killed more than a dozen people.

The outages left many to contend with stifling homes and spoiled food over the weekend as temperatures approached or exceeded 38 degrees C/100.4 degrees F.

Some two million customers from North Carolina to New Jersey and as far west as Illinois were without power Monday morning. Utilities warned that many neighborhoods could remain in the dark for much of the week, if not beyond.

Since Friday, severe weather has been blamed for at least 18 deaths, most from trees falling on homes and cars.

‘They kind of forgot about us out here’
— resident Eric NessonThe power outages had prompted concerns of traffic problems as commuters took to roads with darkened stoplights. But throughout northern Virginia, there was less traffic than normal in many places Monday as federal workers took advantage of liberal leave that was put in place for the day.

Some drivers resorted to ingenuity to get to work. On a residential street in suburban Falls Church, Va., just outside Washington, downed trees blocked the road on either side. Enterprising neighbours used chain saws to cut a makeshift path on one side, but the other remained completely blocked by a massive oak tree.

 A university student finds refuge — and an electrical outlet — in the air-conditioned Westfield Montgomery mall in Silver Spring, Md. on July 2. Power outages in the area continue to affect thousands of people in the midst of a summer heatwave. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)Landscapers in Maryland dismantle a red oak tree that was blown over in last Friday’s deadly storm. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

A series of severe storms knocked out power all along the U.S. East Coast over the weekend, forcing many people to seek reprieve from oppressive heat in public spaces like this fountain at Washington Square Park in New York on July 1, 2012. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Storm-damaged trees litter the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 30, 2012. Storms over the weekend knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes in the D.C. area. More than a dozen people were killed as a round of summer storms hit East Coast states. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Power outages left many people from North Carolina to New Jersey and as far west as Illinois struggling to cope with high temperatures and spoiling food following powerful weekend storms. Here, two men navigate the darkened hallway of a storm-damaged building in Riverdale, Maryland. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Major League Baseball player Ian Desmond of the Washington Nationals takes shelter in the dugout during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia on July 1. (Tami Chappell/Reuters)
A man looking to escape the heat soaks in a fountain at Washington Square Park in New York. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)
People survey storm damage in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of Washington, D.C. on June 30. Power outages caused by downed trees left in the wake of a series of storms left millions without power in several East Coast states. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Tiger Woods wipes his brow during the trophy presentation after winning the AT&T National golf tournament in Bethesda, Maryland on July 1, 2012. Temperatures during the tournament climbed near 40 degrees. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
People lie on the beach at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York on June 30. (Eric Thayer/Reuters).Still, residents took the aggravation with good humor. Posted on the oak tree was a sign saying: “Free firewood you haul.” The tree lay across a smashed Ford pickup truck, with a sign reading: “For SALE. Recently lowered.”

Meanwhile, coast guard officials say they have suspended the search for a man who disappeared early Saturday while boating during the storm off Maryland.

A grocery store employee piles bags of ice for free distribution in Bethesda, Md., on Monday to help community members affected by Friday’s storm. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)On Sunday night in North Carolina, a 77-year-old man was killed when strong winds collapsed a Pitt County barn where he was parking an all-terrain vehicle, authorities said. In neighboring Beaufort County, a couple was killed when a tree fell on the golf cart they were driving. Officials said trees fell onto dozens of houses, and two hangars were destroyed at an airport in Beaufort County.

The damage was mostly blamed on straight-line winds, which are strong gusts pushed ahead of fast-moving thunderstorms like a wall of wind.

Elsewhere, at least six of the dead were killed in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in her bed when a tree slammed into her home. Two young cousins in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent while camping. Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky and one in Washington.

In West Virginia, authorities said one person died early Sunday when the all-terrain vehicle they were riding hit a tree that had fallen over a road.

For survivors, it was a challenge to stay cool over the weekend.

Atlanta set a record with a high of 40 C, while the temperature hit 37C /98.6F at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport just outside the nation’s capital.

With no air conditioning, officials urged residents to check on their elderly relatives and neighbors. It was tough to find a free pump at gas stations that did have power, and lines of cars snaked around fast-food drive-thrus.

Ontario sends help
Power restoration was spotty. Several people interviewed by The Associated Press said they remained without power even though the lights were on at neighbors’ homes across the street. In Maryland, Gov. O’Malley promised he would push utility companies to get electricity restored as quickly as possible.

“No one will have his boot further up Pepco’s and BGE’s backsides than I will,” O’Malley said Sunday afternoon, referring to the two main utilities serving Maryland.

Aid from across the border was expected from Ontario’s Hydro One power utility, which has assisted in the past when natural disasters caused widespread blackouts in the U.S.

Hydro One announced Sunday that about 200 workers would be sent to the Baltimore, Virginia and Washington regions to assist in restoring electricity to affected areas.

“Hydro One crews have a long-standing history of assisting neighbouring utilities when help is needed the most, and this time is no exception,” Len McMillan, Hydro One’s vice-president of lines and forestry, said in a statement.

“Our crews are ready and willing to do what they do best — help restore power quickly and safely to impacted customers.”

The Canadian crews are expected to get working in the affected areas as early as Tuesday.

Hydro One has a history of providing assistance to U.S. cities following significant power outages. For example, the power utility helped utilities in Vermont in February 2010 after a massive winter storm crippled power, and in 2008, crews helped out in Ohio after Hurricane Ike caused massive blackouts.

With files from CBC News
© The Associated Press, 2012

The Canadian Press

Momma’s Source: Yahoo News

Share This


Please keep those affected by the cruel heat and power outages in your prayers.


Editors Note


When it rains it pours. No pun intended. The east coast is recovering from the 5.9 Richter earthquakes and being bombarded by Hurricane Irene at the same time. Having grown up in this area where flood insurance is mandatory, I am fully aware of the preparation and anticipation of a major hurricane. I lived throgh several major hurricanes in childhood, and I have memories of watching a lighbulb swing back and forth across the ceiling. to explain this–we had lights that hung from a thick cord about a foot long. I doubt that these exist today. I can also remember playing as a child in the flood waters that came up to our porch.

Hurricanes are very dangerous, and I can relate to the above picture because I watched my Dad board up many a window as the storm approached. This hurricane is also significant because my mother’s name was Irene. Please, let us continue to pray not just for our countrymen and families but for also for those in other countries who have lost loved ones and seen devastation in their everyday lives. God Bless You.  Momma Cha

Hurricane Irene Rages Up U.S. East Coast

Hurricane Irene rages up U.S. east coast

By Joe Rauch | Reuters – 1 hr 41 mins ago

  • Pedestrians walk past sandbags used to control possible floods at downtown Manhattan in New York August 26, 2011. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

WILMINGTON, N.C. (Reuters) – Hurricane Irene lashed North Carolina with heavy winds, rain and surf Saturday as it neared land on a path threatening the densely populated U.S. east coast with flooding and power outages.

New York City ordered unprecedented evacuations and transit shutdowns as states from the Carolinas to Maine declared emergencies due to Irene, whose nearly 600 mile width guaranteed a stormy weekend for tens of millions of people.

With winds of 90 miles per hour, Irene weakened slightly to a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale by early Saturday but forecasters warned that it remained a large and dangerous storm.

In the port and holiday city of Wilmington, North Carolina, thousands of people were without electricity as Irene’s winds intensified. The streets were empty before dawn and the air was filled with the smell and sound of pine trees cracking under the advancing storm.

At 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT), the center of Irene was about 35 miles south of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

“Some weakening is expected after Irene reaches the coast of North Carolina but Irene is forecast to remain a hurricane as it moves near or over the mid-Atlantic states and New England,” it said.

In summer weather, hundreds of thousands of residents and vacationers had evacuated from Irene’s path. Supermarkets and hardware stores were inundated with people stocking up on food, water, flashlights, batteries, generators and other supplies.

“Our number of customers has tripled in the last day or two as people actually said ‘Wow, this thing is going to happen’,” said Jack Gurnon, owner of a hardware store in Boston.

Airlines canceled nearly 7,000 flights over the weekend and all three New York area airports were due to close to incoming flights at noon Saturday.

President Barack Obama said the storm could be “extremely dangerous and costly” for a nation that recalls the destruction in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina, which swamped New Orleans, killed up to 1,800 people and caused $80 billion in damage.


Irene, the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season, caused as much as $1.1 billion in insured losses in the Caribbean, catastrophe modeling company AIR Worldwide said.

Losses are expected along the U.S. east coast from high winds, heavy seas, flooding and fallen trees. Irene is the first hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since Ike pounded Texas in 2008.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the military stood ready to help, with more than 100,000 National Guard forces available if needed in eastern states.

A quarter of a million New Yorkers were ordered to leave homes in low-lying areas, including the financial district surrounding Wall Street in Manhattan, as authorities prepared for flooding Sunday.

A mandatory evacuation was ordered for residents in large areas of nearby Long Island, which juts into the Atlantic.

New York’s mass transit system, which carries 8.5 million people on weekdays, was due to start shutting down around midday Saturday.

“We’ve never done a mandatory evacuation before and we wouldn’t be doing it now if we didn’t think this storm had the potential to be very serious,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

In Washington, Irene forced the postponement of a ceremony Sunday to dedicate the new memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Tens of thousands of people, including Obama, had been expected to attend.

Flooding from Irene killed at least one person in Puerto Rico and two in Dominican Republic. The storm knocked out power in the Bahamian capital, Nassau, and blocked roads with trees.

(Reporting by Tom Brown in Miami, Daniel Trotta, Basil Katz, Richard Leong, Joan Gralla, Lynn Adler and Ben Berkowitz in New York, Jeremy Pelofsky and Vicki Allen in Washington, Laura MacInnis and Alister Bull on Martha’s Vineyard, Ed Barnett in Morehead City, North Carolina; Writing by John O’Callaghan; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Momma’s Source: yahoonews

Share This

Hurricane Irene Strengthens On Path To U.S. Coast

NASA handout image taken by the GOES-13 satellite shows Hurricane Irene approaching the Bahamas on August 23, 2011 at 1932 UTC (3:32 p.m. EDT). No eye was visible in this image, but the extent of Irene's large cloud cover is seen from eastern Cuba over Hispaniola. The United States put its eastern seaboard on alert for Hurricane Irene on Tuesday as the powerful storm barreled up from the Caribbean on a path that could hit the U.S. coast on the weekend. REUTERS/NASA/NOAA GOES Project/Handout

  • NASA handout image taken by the GOES-13 satellite shows Hurricane Irene approaching …
  • A boy walks in a flooded road after Hurricane Irene hit the municipality of Loiza, Puerto Rico, August 22, 2011. REUTERS/Ana MartinezA boy walks in a flooded road after Hurricane Irene hit the municipality of Loiza, …


NASSAU (Reuters) – Hurricane Irene looked set to become a major storm on Wednesday as it roared up from the Caribbean on a path that prompted residents along the U.S. east coast to prepare for a possible hit over the weekend.

Irene is a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir Simpson scale, with top winds of 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

“Strengthening is forecast and Irene will likely become a major hurricane later today,” the center said.

It will become a Category 3 storm when winds rise above 111 mph.

Even as the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season pounded the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeast Bahamas with winds, rain and high tides, people in the Carolinas on the southeastern U.S. coast were getting ready for its approach.

At 5 a.m. EDT, Irene was about 370 miles southeast of Nassau and about 955 miles south of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.

Irene, the ninth named storm of the June-through-November season, looks set to be the first hurricane to hit the United States since Ike pounded the Texas coast in 2008. But forecasts showed it posing no threat to U.S. oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico.

The hurricane center warned of “an extremely dangerous storm surge” that will raise water levels by as much as 11 feet above normal tides in the central and northwestern Bahamas and by as much as 8 feet in the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos.

The storm is forecast to approach the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday morning. After that, the saturated New England region could be at risk from torrential rains, high winds and flooding from Irene, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said on Tuesday.

Major eastern cities like Washington and New York could feel some impact, the forecasts showed.

In North Carolina, Governor Bev Perdue urged residents to ensure they had three days worth of food, water and supplies.

Voluntary evacuations were to begin on Wednesday for parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a stretch of barrier islands and beaches that are popular summer holiday spots.

Irene drenched the northeastern Caribbean islands earlier in the week. The first death from the storm was reported on Tuesday in Puerto Rico, where a woman was swept away.

Heavy rains continued to pelt the U.S. Caribbean territory, causing flooding and mudslides. Nearly 300,000 residents were without electricity and 58,000 were without water. (Additional reporting by Jane Sutton and Tom Brown in Miami, Harriet McLeod in Charleston, S.C., Edwin Barnett in Raleigh, N.C., Barbara Liston in Orlando; Writing by Pascal Fletcher and John O’Callaghan; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

Momma’s Source: @yahoonews 

Editors Note: 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake

Hi Everyone. There are times when it appears as if calamity is on every side, and you wonder when the trials will be over. I ask for your prayers for my family in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and North Carolina–and my husband’s family in New York State and our prayers go out to other families impacted by the earthquake. Colorado also experienced a 5.9 earthquake. Although there is minimal damage, I know that they were and are frightened by this occurrence. I lived on the East Coast for 39 years, and what we saw mostly was hurricanes. The world at large is now experiencing devastating weather and events that leave you wondering, “Will I be next?

Faith and trust in The Lord are what holds us together in extremity. Fervent prayer brings results. The east coast was hit earlier this summer with storms, this is just another incident that could have been much worse.

Thank You, Momma Cha

Earthquake Strikes Eastern Seaboard by Liz Goodwin…

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Office workers gather on the sidewalk in front of Building…


Earthquake strikes Eastern seaboard
By Liz Goodwin

National Affairs Reporter
By Liz Goodwin | The Lookout – 3 hrs ago

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Mineral, Virginia, 87 miles outside of Washington, D.C., today. You can see the White House appear to shake as the Secret Service walks on its roof in the video above.

Shaking could be felt from Toronto to New York all the way to North Carolina at close to 2 p.m. this afternoon. The quake lasted 45 seconds, and is one of the largest ever to hit the East Coast.

The Pentagon, Capitol and White House were all evacuated, according to the Associated Press.

Roll Call says the Capitol was evacuated after staffers saw “chandeliers…swinging from side to side.” According to an eyewitness on Twitter, the National Cathedral is damaged, with some of its stones falling off altogether.

But no fatalities have been reported so far, and the damage appears to be relatively minimal.

Many people trying to make cell phone calls in the area reported having trouble finding service. Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, used Twitter to ask Washington residents to “try to stay off your cell phone if it is not an emergency.”

Office workers stood outside Dupont Circle in Washington, waiting to be allowed back in to their buildings after the tremor, reports Laura Rozen, who writes The Envoy blog for Yahoo! News. While there were reports that the National Monument was “tilted,” Yahoo! Ticket reporter Chris Moody went to the scene and found it looking fine. The grounds within 1,000 feet of the monument were closed, he reported.

Two nuclear reactors in Virginia were automatically shut off after the quake, but no damage has been reported, according to Reuters . A nuclear power plant near the epicenter of the quake is designed to survive up to a 6.1-magnitude quake, according to the People’s Alliance for Clean Energy.

This video shows cars crushed from falling bricks in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia:

credit: yahoo news

Earthquake Listed at 5.9 Rattles East Coast From Virginia to New Hampshire  By JESSICA HOPPER (@jesshop23) Aug. 23, 2011
A 5.9 magnitude earthquake jolted the East Coast, rattling people from Martha’s Vineyard to Washington, D.C. to North Carolina, prompting the evacuation of Congressional buildings, slowing rail and air traffic, and taking two nuclear reactors offline.

The earthquake sent people pouring out of office buildings, hospitals, the Pentagon and the State Department when it struck at 1:51 p.m. The pillars of the capitol in Washington, D.C. shook. Alarms sounded in the FBI and Department of Justice buildings, and some flooding was reported on an upper floor of the Pentagon as a result of the quake.

Parks and sidewalks in Washington were packed with people who fled their buildings. All of the monuments along the National Mall have been closed. Police on horseback kept people a safe distance from the Washington Monument and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

National Parks Service Spokesman Jeffrey Olson told the Associated Press that there was “absolutely no damage” to the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial or other tourist destinations along the Mall.

The National Cathedral suffered damage to at least three of the cathedral’s pinnacles, Dean of the Cathedral Samuel Lloyd said. The cathedral has been cordoned off with yellow police tape as a precaution.

Officials inspected Congressional buildings before members of Congress and their staff were allowed to return to their offices.

Office workers gather on the sidewalk in downtown Washington, D.C., Aug. 23, 2011, moments after a 5.9 magnitude tremor shook the nation’s capital. The quake was felt as far north as New Hampshire and in Martha’s Vineyard where President Obama and his family are vacationing. It was felt as far south as South Carolina and as far west as Cleveland, Ohio.

The East Coast gets earthquakes from time to time, but rarely of a magnitude to make skyscrapers sway.

Paul Segall, a Stanford geophysicist who studies the structure and development of earthquake faults, called today’s shaker “a significant earthquake for that part of the world. It could do significant damage.”

“I can’t remember an event that large on the East Coast,” he said.

No significant damage or fatalities have been reported. Some injuries have been reported in Washington D.C., the fire department spokesman told the Associated Press. In New York City, the fire department said that they received a surge in calls.

Authorities in New York and Washington said cell phone traffic was so heavy that it hampered their ability to respond to emergencies. A spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency urged people to email and use text messaging instead of their cell phones for their next few hours to ease the congestion.

The epicenter of the quake was near Mineral, Va., 39 miles from Richmond, Va., and 83 miles from the nation’s capital. The quake was .6 miles deep.

According to convertalot.com, a web site which compiles measurements and calculators for a variety of statistics, the magnitude 5.9 earthquake released energy equivalent to the explosion of 10,676 tons of TNT.

Amanda Reidelbach, office manager and spokeswoman for the Louisa County Department of Emergency Services in Mineral, Va., said that the town has felt “at least a half dozen or so” aftershocks since the initial quake struck.

“There were pretty serious aftershocks,” she said. “We walked out onto the street and felt the ground just rumbling.”

There have been reports of structural damage to some residences in town, Reidelbach says, but no reports of significant injuries. Mandatory evacuations were put in place shortly after the quake with all non-essential government and county personnel were sent home for the day. Schools were also closed.

The epicenter of the quake is very close to two Dominion Power nuclear power plants, North Anna 1 and 2.

Elizabeth Stuckle, spokesperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that the reactors were “automatically and safely shut down.” The plant declared an “unusual event” which is the lowest category of four emergency classifications. Back-up generators automatically kicked in to keep the reactors cool, the NRC said.

Nine other nuclear plants on the East Coast declared an “unusual event,” but were none shut down.

The tremblor affected travel in the region.

Amtrak said it was running at reduced speed and was checking tracks and terminals for damage. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said the Metro is moving at 15 mph as inspectors check all tracks.

Flights at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, JFK International in New York and in Philadelphia were temporarily halted. Control towers at JFK and Newark International airports were temporarily evacuated. The delay will cause slow air traffic throughout the region, the Federal Aviation Administration warned. In addition, about a dozen flights were diverted from JFK to Boston.

East Coast Earthquake; Amy Winehouse Toxicology Results

A woman who works at Mineral Barber Shop in Mineral, Va. said that the inside of her shop is a mess but there doesn’t appear to be any major damage outside the town square.

In Richmond, Va., a woman who works on the 18th floor of a 20 story building said she and her co-workers left the building when the shaking first began.

“At first I thought it was someone jumping on floor above me, but then it was really loud and shaky,” she said.

People in the New York Times building on 42nd street in Manhattan said they felt the entire building shift, and watched office furniture move. As the tall buildings in New York swayed, people ran out into the street.

The New York City Criminal Court in lower Manhattan was also evacuated.

In Baltimore, Maryland, artist Lisa Lewenz was working in her basement studio when she began to feel movement under her feet.

“Everything started trembling, with a big boom sound coming up from the ground. I’ve lived in LA long enough to know this drill, so rushed upstairs, and found the glassware still shuttering for about a minute. Couldn’t get through by the phone to friends, and there was no news online, so I started worrying my house was collapsing,” Lewenz said.

Rare East Coast Earthquake Reaches 5.9 Magnitude
Since there were no serious injuries, some saw the lighter side in the unexpected quake.

Michelle Mittelstadt said, “My first earthquake! What’s next: Plague of locusts?”

Another woman who works with the Federal Aviation Administration said that the, “If you have to be evacuated for an earthquake, the National Mall is a nice spilling out point!”

The earthquake felt along the eastern corridor follows an earthquake felt Monday in Colorado. That 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Trinidad, Colorado.

The United States’ Geological Survey said that earthquakes have been felt in the central Virginia area since 1774.

ABC News’ Jane E. Allen, Christina Caron, Troy McMullen, Jack Cloherty, Jim Sciutto, Aaron Katersky and Dennis Powell contributed to this report.

Momma’s Source; ABC News, DSK News