5.1 earthquake reported near NC, several report feeling in Upstate


SPARTA, N.C. (WSPA/ AP) – The most powerful earthquake to hit North Carolina in more than 100 years shook much of the state early Sunday, rattling homes, businesses and residents.

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake occurred near Sparta, N.C. at 8:07 a.m., according to USGS. That’s near the Virginia border.

Several WSPA viewers also reported feeling the earthquake in Upstate, South Carolina.

Our sister station WGHP in High Point, NC received viewer pictures of some damage caused by the earthquake in Sparta.

The earthquake was about 9.2 kilometres below the surface of the earth. It followed an earlier earthquake of magnitude 2.6 in the same area at 1:57 a.m. Sunday.

According USGS, this was the second strongest earthquake to occur in NC since 1900. The strongest was a 5.2 magnitude earthquake near Skyland, NC in February 1916.

The Upstate last saw a 4.8 magnitude earthquake back in 1913.

According to the Associated Press, Michael Hull was standing in his driveway at his home in Sparta when he noticed a group of deer running.

“Not even a minute passed and the side-to-side motion started,” Hull said. “It takes you a minute to realize what’s happening, and you just can’t believe it. Then it was over. It was loud, like God was shaking a mountain at you, literally.”

Karen Backer was in her Greensboro apartment when she heard initially mistook banging in her kitchen for her roommate.

“Nope, it was the cabinet doors ‘clinking’ open and closed! My neighbors on the other hand said they felt our apartment building shaking,” Backer said. “Well, sadly, nothing surprises me in 2020, but a hurricane and an earthquake in the same week is crazy.”

The U.S. Geological Service said the quake’s epicenter was about 2.5 miles (four kilometers) southeast of Sparta, just south of the Virginia-North Carolina border. The USGS said the population in the affected region resides in structures “that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though vulnerable structures exist.”

The quake was felt in nearby states including Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

At 1:57 p.m., there was a 2.6 magnitude aftershock to the Sparta, NC quake. 

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