Metro-East News

Earthquake rattles Midwest region; tremors felt locally

From staff and wire reports

Sandstone bricks from the side of the historic Pawnee County Bank litter the sidewalk after an early morning earthquake in Pawnee, Oka., on Saturday. The United States Geological Survey said a 5.6 magnitude earthquake happened Saturday morning in north-central Oklahoma, on the fringe of an area where regulators had stepped in to limit wastewater disposal. That temblor matches a November 2011 quake in the same region.
Sandstone bricks from the side of the historic Pawnee County Bank litter the sidewalk after an early morning earthquake in Pawnee, Oka., on Saturday. The United States Geological Survey said a 5.6 magnitude earthquake happened Saturday morning in north-central Oklahoma, on the fringe of an area where regulators had stepped in to limit wastewater disposal. That temblor matches a November 2011 quake in the same region. AP

One of the largest earthquakes in Oklahoma was felt Saturday morning from Nebraska to North Texas to Illinois.

The 5.6 magnitude earthquake happened at 7:02 a.m. Saturday in north-central Oklahoma, the United States Geological Survey said. That ties for Oklahoma's strongest earthquake on record, the first coming in November 2011.

No major damage was immediately reported.

People in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Des Moines, Iowa; and Norman, Oklahoma, all reported feeling the earthquake. Dallas TV station WFAA tweeted that the quake shook their studios, too.

In the metro-east, police radio transmissions indicated residents also felt tremors in the Shiloh and O’Fallon areas.

Facebook users across the metro-east — from East St. Louis to St. Jacob, from Collinsville to Chester, from Belleville to Breese, from Granite City to Sparta, and from Freeburg to Fairview Heights — also reported they felt the earthquake.

Saturday’s quake was centered about 9 miles northwest of Pawnee, Oklahoma. Earlier this week, the same spot, which is about 70 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, saw a magnitude 3.2 temblor.

An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production. State regulators have asked producers to reduce wastewater disposal volumes in earthquake-prone regions of the state. Some parts of Oklahoma now match northern California for the nation's most shake-prone, and one Oklahoma region has a 1 in 8 chance of a damaging quake in 2016, with other parts closer to 1 in 20.

A cluster of quakes in northwestern Oklahoma this year included a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, and several 4.7 quakes were felt last fall before regulators stepped in to limit disposal activity.

Justin Jacobson, of Gladstone, Mo., was sleeping when he awakened to his room shaking. At first, he thought it was a dream. But he said he realized what he had experienced afterward, and read posts from others on Facebook who had felt the tremors.

“I think it might have been the most confusing 15 seconds of my life,” Jacobson told the Kansas City Star.

In Oklahoma, Pawnee County Emergency Management Director Mark Randell said no buildings collapsed in the town of 2,200 about nine miles southeast of the epicenter. “We’ve got buildings cracked,” Randell said. “Most of it’s brick and mortar, old buildings from the early 1900s.”

Randell also said a man suffered a minor head injury when part of a fireplace fell on him as he protected a child. The man was treated and released.

Pawnee furniture store owner Lee Wills told The Associated Press that he first thought it was a thunderstorm.

“Then it just ... Everything went crazy after that. It just started shaking,” said Wills, who lives about 2½ miles outside of town. “It rocked my house like a rubber band. Threw stuff off cabinets and out of cabinets, broke glasses.”

The National Weather Service in Tulsa, Oklahoma reported that the earthquake ties the state’s record for the strongest quake. The previous quake with a 5.6 magnitude was on Nov. 5, 2011.

The United States Geological Survey said in several tweets that the depth of the quake’s focus was “fairly shallow,” particularly compared to a recent earthquake in Italy last month.

According to a scale that the United States Geological Survey uses to measure intensity felt by earthquakes, Shawnee and Alka, Oklahoma would have been most affected, with the quake felt by most people in the area. Others living in areas in north Oklahoma and south Kansas would have experienced windows, doors and walls moving and motor vehicles rocking.

According to that scale, most in the Kansas City area likely experienced vibrations “similar to the passing of a large truck,” or rocking buildings, particularly for those who live on the upper floors of buildings.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said crews were checking bridges and structures for damage.

Sean Weide in Omaha, Nebraska, told The Associated Press that he’d never been in an earthquake before and thought he was getting dizzy. Weide said he and one of his daughters “heard the building start creaking “and said it “was surreal.”

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