A 3.6 magnitude earthquake rocked suburban Maryland Friday morning, according to reports from the US Geological Survey and local residents.
The quake, a rarity in the Baltimore-Washington Metro area, struck at 5:04 AM, and was centered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The 59,000-resident DC suburb earned national attention recently when Money Magazine named it number 25 on its Best Places to Live list for 2010. The city is nestled between Baltimore and DC, and lies alongside interstate 270.
Montgomery County Public Schools teacher Sherry DeLauder, who lives in neighboring Montgomery Village, jolted awake when the shaking began. DeLauder said that she’d once felt an earthquake as a small child while visiting with her grandmother in Hydes, MD, but this morning’s event was a big surprise.
She said she entertained many thoughts about the origins of the rumbling as “everything in the house shook”. She wondered if it was the result of “a crazy plane landing (at the nearby Montgomery Airpark) at 5 in the morning”, but dismissed that possibility. Then she worried that something inside her home was responsible for the rock and roll. “Did my heating unit blow up? Did my water heater blow up? I was up walking around the house trying to figure out if it was anything BUT an earthquake,” DeLauder said.
Longtime Gaithersburg resident Connie Whipp, 87, also worried that her ranch-style home was going “to blow up” when the earthquake in Maryland struck. “It scared me to death,” she said, referencing a loud noise that preceeded the shaking. She likened the noise to “a jet engine,” and said that the sound was followed by the quake itself, and then “perfect quiet”. The experience was Whipp’s first ever with an earthquake.
Although Whipp said that her property hadn’t sustained any noticeable damages – in fact, “even the pictures are still straight” – a friend wasn’t so fortunate. A headboard attached to his wall fell on him as he lay in bed, but luckily he wasn’t injured.
DeLauder said she planned to spend part of her day checking for any problem spots that may have resulted from the earthquake in Maryland. “The way it shook, I should be watchful of structural damage,” she noted.
US Geological Survey, Data on Earthquake in Gaithersburg, Maryland, July 16, 2010
Best Places to Live 2010, Gaithersburg, MD, Money Magazine
Phone Interview, Connie Whipp, July 16, 2010
Phone Interview, Sherry DeLauder, July 16, 2010