Recent Oklahoma Earthquake Among Strongest in State

October 15, 2010

One of the strongest earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma rattled parts of five states on October 13 and left two people with minor injuries.

The earthquake struck at 9:06 a.m. about six miles east of Norman in Cleveland County, sharply shaking portions of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the magnitude to be 4.3, but research seismologist Austin Holland said the Oklahoma Geological Survey measured it at 5.1. The higher figure would make Wednesday’s temblor the second-strongest here since records began.

Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with National Earthquake Information Center, said the quake was felt up to 170 miles away, at Bartlesville in northeastern Oklahoma and Wichita in southern Kansas. Reports also came in from Arkansas, Missouri and Texas.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said it had received reports of minor damage, primarily to windows and due to items falling from shelves.

“We had a couple things fall off the wall here at the police department. We all ran outside to see if something hit the station or something like that,” Norman police Capt. Leonard Judy said. Only minor damage had been reported through the city, mainly porches cracking or items falling off shelves.

The shaking rattled buildings at the University of Oklahoma in central Norman, sending students, faculty and staff members outside. President David Boren said in a statement that survey teams were dispatched around campus but no structural damage had been found and no injuries were reported.

“I thought something bad happened at the stadium,” said petroleum engineering student Travis Johnson, who was working at the football stadium when the quake hit. “I never thought it would happen here.”

James Baxter, who lives in nearby Pottawatomie County, was sitting in a recliner when his trailer started shaking.

“The stuff on the wall shook. The dogs took off barking,” Baxter said. “I thought the world was coming to an end, to be honest. It was pretty trippy.”

Ronnie Shaffer, a south Oklahoma City resident, said he preparing to go to bed after working the late-night shift at Tinker Air Force Base when his whole house shook.

“I thought maybe it was an airplane flying real low, kind of like a sonic boom. That’s kind of how it felt,” Shaffer said.

Tina Barnum, 39, was at Barnum’s plumbing in Del City when she felt something odd.

“I looked up when I felt it and saw the curtain move,” Barnum said. “I asked, ‘did somebody hit the building?”‘

“… It actually moved the curtains. I thought ‘holy smokes!”‘

Amanda Strunk, 27, who was on S.W. 25 Street in Oklahoma City, said everyone on the street felt the shaking.

“I thought it was like an explosion or something. It was scary. Everything in the whole house was moving – the chairs, the entertainment center, the walls, everything in the house.”

A magnitude-5.5 earthquake struck El Reno, just west of Oklahoma City, in 1952, and another struck in northeastern Indian Territory in 1882, according to records at the U.S. Geological Survey; the Oklahoma Geological Survey rated that quake at 5.0. Quakes of 4.4 magnitude struck Hughes County in 1939 and Coal County in 1997.

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