4.8 magnitude earthquake in New Jersey, aftershocks felt across NYC and Tri-State

The 4.8-magnitude earthquake rattled NJ, NYC, and much of the Northeast on Friday morning

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Saturday, April 6, 2024
Friday's earthquake strongest in New Jersey in over 240 years
Janice Yu has more on Friday's earthquake and the aftershocks.

LEBANON, New Jersey (WABC) -- An earthquake centered in northern New Jersey registered a magnitude of 4.8 on Friday morning, startling millions of people but causing no major reports of damage.

At least 10 aftershocks were felt throughout the day, including a 3.8-magnitude aftershock near Gladstone, New Jersey, on Friday evening that also rattled parts of the area.

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the initial earthquake occurred near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, or about 45 miles west of New York City, at 10:23 a.m.

Since then, the U.S.G.S. has detected at least 25 aftershocks in Central New Jersey, many of them being felt in New York City and across the region.

Friday's earthquake was the largest in the Tri-State area since 1973.

People from Baltimore to Boston and beyond reported feeling the ground shake. While there were no immediate reports of serious damage, officials were checking bridges and other major infrastructure, some flights were diverted or delayed, Amtrak slowed trains throughout the busy Northeast Corridor, and a Philadelphia-area commuter rail line suspended service out of what it said was "an abundance of caution."

"Our preliminary reports do not indicate major life safety or infrastructure issues from the earthquake. We are performing thorough inspections of critical areas," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams in a tweet just hours after the earthquake happened.

Adams later on announced that New Yorkers should go about their normal days.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday said there was only "limited damage" across the state. He said teams were still assessing and gathering information.

Murphy has since announced that New Jersey deactivated its State Emergency Operations Center as of 10 a.m. on Saturday.

"We have had no reports on major damage to structures, roadways, or infrastructure as a result of yesterday's earthquake," Murphy said on Twitter, formerly known as Twitter.

U.S.G.S. figures indicated that the quake might have been felt by more than 42 million people.

RELATED: Reactions to the earthquake from around the Tri-State area

Near the epicenter of the earthquake

Pictures and decorative plates tumbled off the wall in Christiann Thompson's house in Whitehouse Station, she said, relaying what her husband had told her by phone as she volunteered at a library.

"The dogs lost their minds and got very terrified and ran around," she said.

Whitehouse Station Fire Chief Tim Apgar said no injuries were reported, but responders fielded some calls from people who smelled gas. Some stones were knocked loose at a historic site, Col. John Taylor's Grist Mill, which was built in 1760 and supplied grain to George Washington's troops during the American Revolution.

Cones cordon off fallen debris from the historic Taylor's Mill in Lebanon, N.J., Friday, April 5, 2024.
Matt Rourke

Risk of aftershocks

A magnitude 2.0 aftershock was reported at about 11:20 a.m. near Bedminster, New Jersey. A second aftershock, a magnitude 2.2, occurred at 1:32 p.m. a few miles south of the first aftershock, technically in southwestern Somerset County.

By Friday afternoon, there had been about 10 aftershocks felt, but the biggest was a 3.8-magnitude aftershock in Gladstone, New Jersey.

Both Adams and Hochul warned of the possibility of aftershocks, which are possible for the next week.

According to the forecast, there is still the possibility of an aftershock, but it would likely be less than a 3.0-magnitude:

"I encourage all New Yorkers to check on your loved ones, and 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," Adams said. "So far no major life safety issues reported, no reported infrastructure issues, but we will continue our inspections of critical infrastructure."

Meteorologist Dani Beckstrom has more on the aftershock and liklihood of experiencing more.

RELATED | What is an earthquake? This is what happens when the ground starts to shake

Impact on transportation

As a precaution, area airports were put on ground stops while teams inspected runways for damage but by 12:30 p.m., all airports resumed normal operations.

The AirTrain at Newark was still temporarily suspended at 12:30 p.m. to be checked out.

New Jersey Transit said to expect delays in both directions due to bridge inspections. Amtrak said it was inspecting its tracks and had speed restrictions in place throughout the busy Northeast Corridor.

Mayor Eric Adams and other NYC officials provide an update after the area experiences an earthquake.

The Holland Tunnel was temporarily held for inspection but had reopened by 11:15 a.m.

The MTA reported just before 11 a.m. that there was no damage or service disruption to the New York City subway system. Following its inspections, officials confirmed on Saturday there were no reported issues affecting underwater subway tunnels, bridges and commuter railroad infrastructure.

MTA CEO Janno Lieber reassured New Yorkers of the safety and continuous operation of the transit system.

"I want to reassure New Yorkers that the service on the transit system, all aspects of the transit system, continuously operating safely throughout the incident as continued right to now," Lieber affirmed. "Initial inspections of all facilities have been completed and there are initial further inspections ongoing."

Addressing concerns regarding infrastructure integrity, Bridges Chief Cathy Sheridan emphasized, "The Seven Bridges operated by MTA had been inspected and I want to emphasize those were designed to withstand much stronger seismic impacts than we experienced today."

Adams said there was an uptick in 911 calls after the earthquake, but no major incidents were reported.

Dan Krauth has the latest from the Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn.

Assessing building safety

Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Otto said that the Department of Buildings has not seen an influx of calls about damage, but he wants New Yorkers to know his team is ready.

The commissioner outlined proactive measures being taken, including the deployment of additional construction and engineering professionals over the weekend. "So if reports do come in, we will be ready to respond," he said.

Highlighting the importance of cooperation from construction professionals, Otto stressed the need for vigilance.

"There are 1.1 million buildings in the city which means we need cooperation from construction professionals," Otto said.

Local schools are safe

The New York City Department of Education said there are no indications of any compromised buildings at NYC schools but staff are inspecting buildings to ensure safety.

Despite tremors being felt in various educational institutions, Chancellor David Banks assured that there were no indications of structural damage to any school buildings. Parents were advised against picking up their children early, as there was no need for immediate evacuation due to the earthquake. Furthermore, all after-school programs were to proceed as scheduled.

They say the safest place for kids right now is in school.

Meteorologist Lee Goldberg explains the 4.8 magnitude earthquake that the Tri-State area experienced.

ALSO READ | Earthquake scale: How they are measured and what the magnitude and intensity scales mean

Governors and President Biden speak out

Gov. Hochul spoke to Gov. Phil Murphy and they have been in contact with the White House, and state infrastructure is being assessed.

The command center at the New York City Emergency Management Department on Friday, April 5, 2024, in New York. Officials say Friday morning
The command center at the New York City Emergency Management Department on Friday, April 5, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Brittainy Newman

Murphy said the epicenter was in Hunterdon County and the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated. The governor asked residents not to call 911 unless they have an actual emergency.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said her team will continue to assess impacts and any damage that may have occurred because of the earthquake.

"My top priority is keeping people safe, and I have directed State personnel to take all necessary precautions following yesterday's historic earthquake," said New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday. "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."

President Joe Biden was briefed on the earthquake in New Jersey, "and he is in touch with his team who are monitoring potential impacts," the White House said. The White House said they are in touch with federal, state, and local officials.

Gino and his son from Lebanon describe the sound of an explosion as the earthquake happened.

Likelihood of earthquakes in NYC area

Earthquakes along the Atlantic Seaboard are uncommon but not unheard of. Earthquakes with magnitudes near or above 5 struck near New York City in 1737, 1783, and 1884.

A 4.8-magnitude 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.

While earthquakes in this region may be rare, earthquakes can happen anywhere. About 75% of the U.S. could experience a damaging earthquake.

Kristin Thorne talked to a tourist from LA about experiencing the earthquake in NYC.


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