New Jersey, New York City rocked by rare 4.8 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks

The earthquake was centered near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.

April 6, 2024, 2:30 PM

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the Northeast Friday morning, in what New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called "one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast in the last century."

The earthquake was centered near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and shook buildings from Philadelphia to New Jersey and New York City to Connecticut and Westchester, New York. It could be felt as far south as Washington, D.C., and as far north as Maine, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Several weaker aftershocks were also reported in the hours following the initial quake, including one measuring 4.0 magnitude centered near Gladstone, New Jersey, Friday evening, according to preliminary data from the USGS.

Hochul said Saturday the USGS reported at least 25 aftershocks in Central New Jersey that were felt in the area since the initial earthquake, but no reports of injuries and only minimal damage.

"My top priority is keeping people safe, and I have directed State personnel to take all necessary precautions following yesterday's historic earthquake," Hochul said in a statement. "At this time, we are aware of no injuries and minimal damage from this earthquake. We will continue monitoring the situation and updating New Yorkers as necessary."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on X, "We have had no reports of major damage to structures, roadways, or infrastructure as a result of yesterday's earthquake."

The USGS said Friday there was a "low likelihood of casualties and damage."

The earthquake that rattled the tristate area left some residents doubting what they had just experienced.

"I felt like there was a roller coaster under my house going 1,000 miles an hour," Carol Nicolaidis of Brooklyn, New York, told ABC News. "I first thought pipes were exploding under my house."

"I was sitting in my living room and I saw the walls shaking; it felt like a wave," she said.

"It felt like a subway train running under the couch," said Rocco Pietropola, who was in an eighth-floor Manhattan apartment.

This was the strongest quake in the greater New York City metro area since 1884, according to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

Con Edison said there were no reports of outages, and the MTA said there was no service disruption to New York City's subway system.

MAP ILLUSTRATION: 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake Apr. 5, 2024 near Whitehouse Station, NJ
4.8 Magnitude Earthquake Apr. 5, 2024 near Whitehouse Station, NJ
ABC News Map Illustration / USGS

President Joe Biden was briefed on the earthquake Friday and spoke with Murphy.

"I spoke to the governor," Biden told reporters. "He thinks everything's under control, not too concerned ... So, things are alright."

New York City schools stayed open as normal, according to the city's Department of Education press secretary, Nathaniel Styer.

"At this time, there is no indication that our buildings were compromised, and our facilities staff are quickly and thoroughly inspecting buildings to ensure safety. The safest place for our kids right now is in our schools," Styer said.

PHOTO: Simone P. Bourgeois, Director, points to the earthquake shock registered by the seismograph at the Sea Lab Marine Science Education Center in New Bedford, N.J on April 5, 2024.
Simone P. Bourgeois, Director, points to the earthquake shock registered by the seismograph at the Sea Lab Marine Science Education Center in New Bedford, N.J on April 5, 2024.
Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times via USA Today Network

At Rye Country Day School in Rye, New York, "The students thought it was the coolest thing ever," said Gail Sestito, dean of Grades 7 and 8 and a middle school science instructor.

"Many said they saw the lights shaking a little and the smart board vibrate. But mostly we heard it -- sounded like students running down the hall," she said.

"As science teachers, we were excited to dive into the details we could find," she said. "Our seventh grade is currently teaching geology, so it's a perfect real-life connection."

PHOTO: The quake could be felt throughout New York, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The quake could be felt throughout New York, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul.
ABC News

"Obviously safety of the students was most important, so we evacuated using our fire drill procedures to account for all students," Sestito said. "While we waited for clearance to return to class, we talked to them -- casually -- about the rarity of this, and the upcoming eclipse, too."

"Earthquakes along the Atlantic Seaboard are uncommon but not unheard of," according to the USGS. "M4.8 is not large enough to cause damage, apart from light effects in the immediate epicentral region. It is large enough to be strongly felt, especially in the east, where earthquake shaking travels through the crust more efficiently than it does out west."

PHOTO: Damaging Earthquakes Felt in New Jersey
Damaging Earthquakes Felt in New Jersey
Dep. of Environmental Protection, Land Use Management, NJ Geological Survey

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport were all placed on ground stops so runways could be inspected for damage. The airports have since resumed operations.

Baltimore and Washington, D.C., officials said the earthquake has had no impact to the D.C. region.

What are aftershocks?

Several aftershocks were reported following Friday morning's initial quake, the strongest being a 4.0 magnitude that rattled the New York City region Friday evening.

"At this point we have no major damage reports coming in," New York City Emergency Management said on social media.

Hochul also said there are no reports of significant damage at this time following the 4.0 magnitude aftershock.

Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that strike the same overall area in the days, weeks, months or years after the larger "mainshock" earthquake, according to the USGS.

In the wake of Friday morning's quake, there was a 46% chance of an aftershock over a 3.0 magnitude within the next week, according to the USGS.

"If you feel an aftershock, drop to the floor, cover your head and neck, and take cover under a solid piece of furniture, next to an interior wall, or in a doorway," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.

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