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Earthquake shakes Charlotte region

No, it wasn’t just you.

Amid the Valentine’s Day celebrations and thawing out from all the snow and ice, many in the Charlotte region were abuzz Saturday because of an earthquake near the South Carolina and Georgia border Friday night

The 4.1 magnitude quake was reported at 10:23 p.m. near Edgefield, S.C., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s about 160 miles southwest of Charlotte.

“Yesterday we had a blizzard, today it was 60 degrees, and tonight we had an earthquake,” read one of many tweets about the earthquake.

The tweets kept coming on Saturday, including: “#snowmageddon followed by an earthquake. What’s next, #sharknado?” “Snowstorm= Northerns making fun of us. Earthquake of a 4.1 magnitude = the whole the West coast now making fun of us. #southernproblems” and “Will skip the impending locusts, thanks.”

A lot of people called the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department about it, too.

“We did get a barrage of calls at that time,” said Capt. Rich Austin. He didn’t have a total available Saturday, but said a lot of people mistook the temblor for a nighttime prowler.

While earthquakes in the Carolinas are not as frequent as along the West Coast, the Geological Survey said small quakes are typically felt in the inland Carolinas about once or twice a year.

In the past 13 months, there were 12 earthquakes in South Carolina. But none of the previous 11 was more than 2.5 in magnitude, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ earthquake Web page.

The Geological Survey said 4.0 magnitude earthquakes typically can be felt as far as 60 miles from the epicenter. But people across the Charlotte region said they could feel their houses shake Friday night.

More than 15,000 reports came into the USGS about the quake, which was felt as far west as Atlanta and as far north as Hickory.

“It’s a large quake for that area,” said USGS geophysicist Dale Grant. “It was felt all over the place.”

Geologists said the quake happened three miles underneath the earth’s surface.

No damage or injuries from the quake itself had been reported, said South Carolina Emergency Management Division spokesman Derrec Becker. The ice storm felled a lot of trees in the area, which could make it more difficult to determine what damage was caused by the quake.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley felt the earthquake at the governor’s mansion in Columbia. She asked the state Department of Transportation to inspect bridges in the area Saturday morning as a precaution, said her spokesman, Doug Mayer.

Friday isn’t the first time in recent years that the Charlotte region has felt an earthquake.

In 2011, a 5.8-magnitude centered near Mineral, Va., was felt up and down the East Coast. The largest earthquake ever recorded on the East Coast was a 7.3-magnitude quake near Charleston in August 1886 that killed at least 60 people.

Observer reporter Lindsay Reubens, The (Columbia) State and The Associated Press contributed.

Bethea: 704-358-6013; Twitter: @AprilBethea
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