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Strongest Earthquake in Decades Startles Western New York

February 6, 2023

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A small earthquake rumbled through western New York early Monday, alarming people in a region unaccustomed to such shaking but apparently causing no significant damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey preliminarily reported a 3.8 earthquake centered east of Buffalo in the suburb of West Seneca at about 6:15 a.m. Seismologist Yaareb Altaweel said it matched the intensity of the strongest earthquake the region has seen in 40 years of available records — a 3.8 quake that was recorded in November 1999.

The shaking lasted a few seconds and sent residents first to their windows and then to social media in search of an explanation.

“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo. I jumped out of bed,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted. County emergency services officials confirmed the earthquake was felt in at least a 30-mile radius, including in Niagara Falls, about 20 miles north of Buffalo, he said.

Earthquake Canada, which measured a 4.2 magnitude event, reported it was felt slightly in southern Ontario.

Small earthquakes are not unusual in upstate New York but are rarely felt as strongly. The earthquake comes on the heels of two record-breaking weather events in the region: A snowstorm that dropped as much as 7 feet of snow in November and a blizzard in December that is blamed for 47 deaths.

The western New York earthquake occurred hours after a powerful quake killed hundreds in Turkey and Syria. A USGS spokesperson said there is no connection between the two events.

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