New York City residents may have felt tremors by a 5.8 earthquake that hit Virginia some 450 miles away. According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake happened at 1:51pm, 3.7 miles below the 792 W Old Mountain Road in Virginia.
Update (2:10pm): The earthquake was reported as a 5.9 earthquake on the Richter scale.
Analysis of the Richter Scale: 5.9 Earthquake in New York City
1 - 1.9 on the Richter Scale: This is noted as a "micro" earthquake. They are a very common occurrence. They're hardly felt.
2 - 2.9 on the Richter Scale: Hardly felt.
3 - 3.9 on the Richter Scale: Felt by those at ground level. Hardly felt by most. Typically, no damage done to buildings and infrastructures.
4 - 3.9 on the Richter Scale: Noticeable shaking by some. Movements are apparent in poorly constructed buildings.
5 - 5.9 (Virginia earthquake that happened on August 23): Can cause major damage to poorly constructed infrastructures. Well designed buildings will usually not feel anything. Most buildings in New York City are not designed for earthquakes. Many New York residents may have felt tremors, their bed shaking, or like a fat man was dancing on the floor above them. These type of earthquakes happen about 800 per year.
6 - 6.9 on the Richter Scale: Can be felt about 100 miles away from the epicenter. Most buildings in the epicenter will feel tremors.
7 - 7.9 on the Richter Scale: Can cause major damage. Fnfrastructures will shake violently. Can be felt on the ground level. Tall buildings will typically sway.
8 - 8.9 on the Richter Scale: Major damage over hundreds of miles. Danger of tsunami, if the epicenter is located on the sea floor. These are rare. On average, one earthquake of such magnitude occurs per year.
9 - 9.9 on the Richter Scale: Devastating damage. Very rare. This type of earthquake happens about once every 20 years.
10+ on the Richter Scale: Massive damage over thousands of miles. Never recorded.
How to Protect Yourself during an Earthquake in New York City
Drop, Cover, and hold on: Find the nearest table. Make sure that it is sturdy and not made up of glass. Metal and wooden desks are your best bet. If the table is not near a wall, move the table to the nearest wall in the room. Try to stay away from things in the room that are taller than the height of your table. This is to prevent items from falling onto the table, potentially damaging it.
It is important to cover your head with your hands during an earthquake. If you are protecting small children, instruct them to cover their heads.
If the shaking is violent, then grab onto the desk and make sure to huddle with those around you. If outdoors, keep away from tall buildings. Stay in open fields. The ground breaking apart and swallowing you whole does not happen. This happened only once in recorded history. Relax. You're safe in an open field.