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Mild Buffalo earthquake most powerful in 40 years

The quake, at 3.8, was enough to shake the ground and residents, but not to cause damage

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People and vehicles move about Main Street in Buffalo, N.Y.

People and vehicles move about Main Street in Buffalo, N.Y., Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, after a massive snow storm blanketed the city. On Feb. 6, 2023, a 3.8 earthquake hit the Buffalo area but did not do any damage.

Craig Ruttle, Associated Press

Some Buffalo, New York, residents were startled Monday by an earthquake in the early morning that was strong enough to shake up residents, but not enough to do any damage.

The 3.8 earthquake was the strongest to hit the area in 40 years, according to the U.S. Earthquake Notification Service.

According to NBC News. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the earthquake was felt “as far north as Niagara Falls and south to Orchard Park.”

“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo. I jumped out of bed,” Poloncarz told NBC News.

According to the National Earthquake Information Center, it’s tied for the largest quake in the area since 1983, but certainly not the only one. There have been two dozen, including an earthquake of identical magnitude in 1999 in western New York.

“On a scale of earthquakes, 3.8 isn’t that big. But the crust in that region is old crust. It’s old and cold and the efficiency of transferring the seismic waves versus sedimentary areas — that’s why people can feel it more. That’s why earthquakes can be felt even at 1.0 in some places,” the NBC article quoted center seismologist Yaareb Altaweel.

That small quake is in sharp contrast to the very deadly 7.8 magnitude quake that has killed at least 3,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

The epicenter of the Buffalo earthquake occurred about 1.3 miles east northeast of West Seneca, according to WIVB. It happened at about 6:15 a.m. EST on Monday.

The National Weather Service says, “At about 6:15 a.m. EST today, an earthquake was felt strongly by many people in the Buffalo, NY area. It is unknown yet if there is any damage from the earthquake.”

WIVB said, “News 4 received numerous calls from people who reported feeling something in places like Lackawanna, Kenmore, Buffalo, Amherst, Hamburg and West Seneca. We were live on the air when it happened.”

Fox affiliate WXIN quoted the U.S. Geological Service on earthquakes in that area. It noted that “earthquakes too small to cause damage are felt roughly three or four times per decade, although only one was felt during the 1940s and eight were felt during the 1960s.”

WGRZ posted videos of the shaking that were shared after they were caught on security cameras by western New Yorkers. They showed shaking and startled people, but no damage.

“Because of Monday’s earthquake being more shallow, it had a quicker, more explosive feel, which is why it did not last very long, and did not cause very much damage,” the news site reported. “There is a small chance of a small aftershock, but it is unlikely to be felt.”

It’s been a rough spell for Buffalo. In December, blizzards killed several dozen people in the area, as the Deseret News reported in December.