6.5 magnitude earthquake in Idaho It was a typical Tuesday evening at the Albertsons grocery store in this resort town about 100 miles north of Boise.
Until Susie Baker looked up and saw all the hanging aisle signs swinging back and forth.
“Then I thought I heard a sound … and the floor was moving,” said Baker, a checker at the store.
It was the force of the most powerful earthquake to strike the Gem State since 1983, a magnitude 6.5 temblor that jolted people across Idaho and three neighboring states. No injuries or damage were immediately reported.
The quake was centered 73 miles northeast of Meridian, near Boise, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and, for some, conjured up memories of the state’s worst such natural disaster, the 6.9 magnitude Borah Peak earthquake nearly four decades ago that killed two people and resulted in millions in damages, according to the Idaho Geological Survey.
“At first I thought it was thunder, weird thunder, but then the house was moving and I realized this is an earthquake — a really big earthquake,” said Melissa Hawkins, 44, who lives in northwest Boise with her family. “It felt like it was in Boise.”
The prolonged shaking, Hawkins said, brought back childhood memories of the Borah Peak quake, which also hit in a remote part of Idaho but was felt in the capital city. She remembers lights in the house swinging then, and saw that same phenomenon Tuesday. 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Idaho
“I was yelling at the kids to get in the doorways. They didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
Elisa Bullock said she and her husband were on their back deck in Boise trying to cut their dog’s nails when the ground began shaking.
“It’s probably the least-safe place in our house and we just stood there,” she said. “When it stopped, I looked at Brandt and yelled, ‘Get in a door jam.’ We will be implementing earthquake drills starting tomorrow.”
“Stuff was flying all over the place. I was upstairs and I tried to walk down the steps and I couldn’t because it was shaking too much.”—Mayor Steve Botti, Stanley, Idaho
There were no initial reports of damage, the Boise Police Department said on Twitter, while acknowledging, “Yep we felt it too.”
“Stay safe out there Boise,” the tweet said. “Call us if you need us.”
There were reports that the earthquake was felt in Coeur d’Alene, Twin Falls and Hailey in Idaho; Spokane, Washington; Missoula and Bozeman, Montana; and Salt Lake City in Utah.
“It felt like the whole house was shaking,” said Jim Tracy, 81, who was looking at model airplanes on his computer at a friend’s house in McCall. “It lasted so long I knew that it was a big one.”
Another McCall resident, Linda Humpherys, 73, was stunned by the quake.
“You know how it feels when you are sitting on a plane and someone behind you starts kicking your seat? That’s what I was feeling, but I was on my bed,” she said. “Then the chandelier was shaking back and forth.”
Some 375 miles away in Evaro, Montana, near Missoula, Shannon Patton felt the ground shaking, too. 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Idaho
“I actually thought I was having a dizzy spell to begin with due to my migraine,” Patton said in an email. “Our light fixtures were shaking and one of our signs on our pantry door almost fell off.”
A 4.8 magnitude aftershock, centered southwest of Challis, followed about an hour later, the USGS said on Twitter. Smaller aftershocks continued into the evening hours.
The Borah Peak earthquake is the largest ever recorded in Idaho — both in magnitude and property damage, according to the IGS. The towns of Challis and Mackay took the brunt, with 11 commercial buildings and 39 private homes suffering major damage.
According to our forecast, over the next week there is a 4% chance of one or more aftershocks larger than magnitude 6.5. It is likely there will be smaller earthquakes over the next week, as well, with 4 to 790 magnitude 3 or higher aftershocks. Magnitude 3 and above are large enough to be felt near the epicenter. The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily.
The earthquake occurred as the result of strike slip faulting within the shallow crust of the North America plate. The earthquake occurred in the western part of the Centennial Tectonic Belt, an area north of the Snake River Plain that is undergoing southwest-northeast extension. Historic seismicity in the immediate vicinity of the March 31 earthquake is sparse; no earthquakes of M5+ have occurred within 50 km of this event over the past 50 years, and the most notable historic seismicity in the region occurred about 100 km to the east on the Lost River fault zone. This was the site of the 1983 M6.9 Borah Peak earthquake (October 28, 1983), which killed 2 in Challis, and resulted in over $12M in damage in the Challis-Mackay area, and which was followed by five other M 5+ events over the following year, and most recently a M5.0 earthquake in January 1950, about 60 km to the east of today’s event. The March 31, 2020 event is the largest in Idaho since the 1983 Borah Peak earthquake. 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Idaho
The U.S. Geological Survey reports the magnitude 6.5 temblor struck just before 6 p.m. It was centered 73 miles (118 kilometers) northeast of Meridian, near the rural mountain town of Stanley. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
More than 2 million live in the region that could feel the Idaho quake, according to the USGS, with reports of shaking coming in from as far away as Helena, Montana, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Marcus Smith, an emergency room health unit coordinator at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center, said the hospital, about 65 miles (104 kilometers) south of the epicenter, shook but the quake didn’t interfere with the treatment of any patients. The hospital in Blaine County is on the front line of Idaho’s coronavirus outbreak, in a region with the nation’s highest per-capita rates of known COVID-19 cases outside of New York City and its surrounding counties.
“It felt like a wave going through the ground, so I knew right away what it was. It just felt like waves going through the ground,” he said.
The earthquake added stress during an already tense time for the region, but Smith said everything seemed fine, for now. “Until the next one, I guess,” Smith said. “I mean, that’s what we do. We’re all good.”
Brett Woolley, the owner of Bridge Street Grill in Stanley, said he heard the earthquake coming before he felt it. 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Idaho