Fritz's World

An exciting and awe-inspiring glimpse into my life: movie reviews (which are replete with spoilers), Penn State football, Washington Nationals, and life here in the nation's capital. Can you handle it?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An earthquake . . . in DC!

Yesterday afternoon, I experienced something that I never expected to, at least not on the east coast: an earthquake!

Close to 2:00 in the afternoon, I felt the office building I work in begin to shake a little bit. My first thought was a large truck passing by, because that's not an uncommon thing in Bethesda, and that the shaking would subside quickly enough. It did begin to subside momentarily, but then began to tremble much harder—enough that walls and windows in the office began to vibrate loudly. Since this was rather unusual, I stood up in my office cube and looked out some nearby windows, wondering if there had been some kind of large accident nearby. Gradually the trembling subsided, and without any reference to draw from, I began to wonder, "Did I just feel an earthquake?"

Other co-workers who sit near me were coming out into the hallway, looking as equally perplexed, and some of us even asked each other, "Was that an earthquake?"

I looked online really quickly, checking Facebook, CNN, and the Washington Post, and there was nothing on the news websites. Facebook, on the other hand, was starting to crop up with posts like, "I just felt an earthquake!" or "What the hell was that?" I thought of texting Nora telling her, with some humorous astonishment, that I had just felt an earthquake. She surprised me by texting me first, with essentially the same message! What surprised me, though, was that Nora and I live out near Dulles, and I sort of expected this particular quake to be somewhat localized to suburban Maryland. A quick check of Facebook again showed that people from Pennsylvania all the way down to North Carolina were posting about an earthquake! This was probably the first moment where I felt unsettled, because I didn't think an earthquake, even a big one, could be felt across several states like this.

A few minutes later, an announcement came over our PA system that we should leave the building and meet in our designated fire safety area outside. My initial response was laughter, simply because the event was over, though I could tell some co-workers were a bit jarred by the experience.

As I made my way outside, I overheard some people saying it was a 5.8, which I always thought was pretty big—especially for this area. The last earthquake for this area was about a year before this, when one hit in the early hours of the morning, and registered maybe only a 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale, max. So a 5.8 was definitely unusual for this area. We stayed outside for maybe 10 minutes before the all-clear was given to go back inside, but I did notice that many people (people who work in nearby buildings, that is) were getting into their cars and leaving.

Things seemed to return to normal once we went back inside, though Facebook and the news websites were on fire with the story.

All things considered, though, I made it through this okay, as did everyone else. I guess now I know what people in California go through on a more regular basis!

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