Earthquake downgraded to 3.9 magnitude - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Earthquake downgraded to 3.9 magnitude

Intensity map (Source: CERI Memphis) Intensity map (Source: CERI Memphis)
Helicorder display in Portageville, MO (Source: CERI) Helicorder display in Portageville, MO (Source: CERI)
Helicorder display in Henderson Mound, MO (Source: CERI) Helicorder display in Henderson Mound, MO (Source: CERI)
(Source: CERI) (Source: CERI)
damage at Martha Knupp's home in Anniston damage at Martha Knupp's home in Anniston

EAST PRAIRIE, MO (KFVS) - The Center for Earthquake and Research Information in Memphis has downgraded an earthquake that hit southeast Missouri on Feb. 21 to a 3.9.

CERI had originally recorded the earthquake at a 4.0 magnitude at 3:58 a.m.

The epicenter of the quake is seven miles NNW of East Prairie, Mo.

It was 3.1 miles deep.  Felt reports on the USGS website report people in 13 states felt the quake.

The earthquake was also 12 miles ENE of Matthews and 13 miles SSE of Blodgett which is 36.850°N, 89.409°W.

The U.S. Geological Survey also recorded a 2.5 magnitude aftershock eight miles north of East Prairie at 11:05 a.m.

Amy Vaughan, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colorado, says they located the earthquake around Sikeston and Charleston.  She says they've had a large number of felt reports indicating it was widely felt regionally and even felt hundreds of kilometers away.

Vaughan says several people in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee reported being awakened by the quake that happened at 3:58 a.m.  A few residents of North Carolina, Alabama, Indiana and Georgia also felt it.

Vaughan says it is considered a light earthquake with maybe some minor damage possible with things falling off walls and maybe some cracks. Viewers have reported cracks in walls and things fallings off walls.  There have been no major reports of damage.

[See a slideshow of earthquake damage from southeast Missouri.]

Vaughan says earthquakes are more likely to be widely felt in parts of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, usually over 10 times greater than in areas west of the Rockies.

She says smaller aftershocks are possible.  A 2.5 magnitude aftershock at 11:05 a.m. did shake near the epicenter of the first quake.

Vaughan says it's important to know what to do when an earthquake occurs.  If you're outside, stay away from buildings and if you're inside get under something.

At the epicenter

Clifford Rolwing lives about 500 feet from the epicenter.  He says he did not have major damage, but find some cracks in some stones in the foundation around his home. 

When the quake hit, Rolwing says he was about half asleep, but didn't stay that way for long.

"It got louder and louder and I thought 'Wow, what a blast of thunder,'" said Rolwing.  "And continued to rumble and I thought 'No, there's something else'  My first thought was maybe a truck semi may have come off the road and was heading toward our house and then it began to rumble more.  I thought, it dawned on me what it was."

Experts say this is not likely to be a preview of a bigger quake on the famous New Madrid fault, but the 4.0 magnitude is on the larger end of about 200 quakes that occur on fault annually.

Who felt it?

Shaun Bell with the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department says they felt the earthquake and received several phone calls with some people saying it sounded like a vehicle was dragged through their house.

East Prairie City Administrator Lonnie Thurmond says the shaking lasted about seven seconds. Vaughan says he's heard reports of cracks in sidewalks and walls, some broken windows, and minor household damage such as rattled shelves and things falling from cabinets.

Martha Knupp in Anniston says it sounded like a loud boom, then "stuff went to shaking."

"I was asleep," said Knupp. "I heard a loud boom, woke me up.  Then the house was shaking.  The bed was shaking.  I heard stuff falling everywhere.  I jumped up to run into my husband's bedroom, check on him and that's when I seen the mantle to the lamp laying in the floor."

She said she got up to find several of her things in the floor and some of the cracks in her walls from an earlier earthquake widened and lengthened.  Viewers have also reported cracks in walls in Miner and a cracked floor in Blodgett.

"I was coming down the highway and everything and the road kind of jerked a little bit and everything.  By the time I pulled over and everything, it stopped everything.  Thought, well I better pull over and everything.  Felt a little bit of rumble and everything," said one man.

"I was laying in bed watching TV and all of a sudden my bed it just goes up and down and up and down three times.  And I started to get out, it went up about the time I started to get out," said one woman.

Cape Girardeau Police Sgt. Rick Schmidt says he's heard reports from several residents.  However, he says it will be business a usual at the police station Tuesday.

Earthquake insurance

Insurance agent Tim Bryant says now is the time for homeowner to get out their insurance policy.

"Earthquake insurance is not a requirement on a policy and it is an add on or an option that the insured has to pay a little extra premium for to get it added to the policy," Bryant said.

Bryant says most insurance companies have a 60 day waiting period after a quake before you can add an earthquake policy.

Animals and the quake

Dozens of viewers report their dog, cat and horses acted strange just before the quake.

Dr. Brian Heuring of Delta Veterinary Clinic in Sikeston says this is normal for animals to act this way.

"All the reports I have seen they're never showing correlation between that," said Dr. Heuring.  "So I don't know.  Again we've got stories both ways of pets that sensed it and then bark ahead of time and then there's like my own that just slept through it."

Dr. Heuring says one theory is animals feel the Earth move and vibrate before humans and that they detect electrical changes in the air before an earthquake.

Heartland News is receiving several reports from viewers who felt shaking.  Did you feel the shaking?  Leave a message below or on our Facebook page.  Do you have damage?  Send pictures with a description to or upload them at

Stay with Heartland News and for updates.

Related links

Latest earthquakes in the United States from the USGS

More on the 4.0 earthquake

Intensity vs. Magnitude of Earthquakes

Measuring the Size of an Earthquake

How to Read a Seismogram Display

Earthquake Checklist

Earthquake Preparedness

Earthquake Facts

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SLIDESHOW: 4.0 magnitude earthquake


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