UPDATE: Earthquake Rattles Kent State Library
5.9 magnitude quake strikes in Virginia, with effects felt across the East Coast
Editor's Note: this story was udpated at 4:24 p.m.
People in Portage County's tallest building were advised to evacuate but told it wasn't absolutely necessary this afternoon after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck in Virginia.
Students, faculty and staff in the Kent State University Library were advised of the quake, which hit about 27 miles east of Charlottesville, VA, at 1:51 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but library administrators were told by university police that it was OK to stay in the 12-story building.
J. Mark Pike, assistant dean for administrative services at the Kent State University Libraries, said in an email patrons were initially told to evacuate but then were advised it was not absolutely necessary.
"There was no panic either … just general excitement and concern," Pike said in an email.
Donald Palmer, a geology professor at Kent State, said he didn't feel the quake personally but people in his building on campus — McGilvrey Hall — felt it.
"Where we were, you had to be kind of sitting and stationary," he said. "The quake was a magnitude 5.9, which is a substantial quake if you are right in the area. But, we’re 300 miles from that area, so we would not expect to have damage or problems in this area from that."
Media reports and a map of the quake's reach indicated it was felt as far away from the epicenter as Concord, N.H..
"It was felt very widely, and that is not at all unusual either," Palmer said. "It was felt mostly up and down the Appalachian Mountain direction, kind of off to the northeast and southwest. But certainly it was felt in Ohio where we are and out in the Columbus area and so forth."
Kent State is a part of the Ohio Seismic Network and earthquake monitoring equipment is stationed at the Kent campus, but Palmer said that data is transferred immediately to a station in Columbus and was not available today.
"Magnitude is registered at the epicenter … so we are essentially at the level that it’s a very subjective kind of measure for us out here," Palmer said. "So it wouldn’t be on the basis of the monitoring scale."
The quake sent people rushing to social media outlets to share their earthquake experiences, which ranged from declarations that their entire building shook to people questioning whether they felt it or not.
Patrons and staff at the Kent Free Library reported feeling the earthquake and seeing light fixtures swinging in the building. Sporadic reports in Kent ranged from people who said their furniture and windows shook to people who said they didn't feel it at all.
The New York Times reported that the earthquake's effects stretched from Bath, ME, to Hampstead, N.C.