Police officials and both county executives said no serious injuries or major damage have been reported due to the earthquake. NewsdayTV's Jamie Stuart reports.  Credit: Newsday

This story includes reports from John Asbury, Erik Boland, Denise M. Bonilla, Robert Brodsky, Matthew Chayes, Anthony M. DeStefano, Scott Eidler, Nicole Fuller, Michael Gormley, Mark Harrington, John Hildebrand, David Lennon, Lorena Mongelli, Deborah S. Morris, Maureen Mullarkey, Joseph Ostapiuk, Ted Phillips, Tara Smith, Nicholas Spangler, Joie Tyrrell, John Valenti and Joe Werkmeister. It was written by Brodsky. 

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake shook Long Island and the metropolitan area Friday morning, officials confirmed, rattling buildings and desks, grounding some area flights and frightening countless residents in a rare event that lasted several seconds.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or major infrastructure damage.

The earthquake, felt by an estimated 42 million people on the Eastern Seaboard from as far north as Maine and as far south as Norfolk, Virginia, had its epicenter near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, about 50 miles west of New York City, officials said. It happened at 10:23 a.m.

A smaller temblor was felt at about 6 p.m. across parts of Long Island. It measured 3.8,  according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and had an epicenter near Gladstone, New Jersey. There also was an aftershock of 2.0 about one hour after the initial quake. 

 Earthquakes in the NYC area

Before Friday, since 1990, the U.S. Geological Survey recorded just four earthquakes of 4.0 magnitude or better within 250 kilometers (about 155 miles) of NYC, according to geophysicist Dara Goldberg of the USGS in Golden, Colorado.

  • In 1991, there was a 4.0 earthquake with an epicenter near Oneonta.
  • In 1994, there was a 4.6 in Pennsylvania, followed by a 4.2 quake the same day.
  • In 2017, there was a 4.1 earthquake in Delaware.

As of 6:18 p.m., there had been 11 aftershocks since the main earthquake, USGS spokesman Paul Laustsen wrote in an email.

“It is likely that people are going to feel aftershocks in the 2-3 magnitude range, and there is a small chance that there could be an earthquake as large or larger following a quake like this,” said Paul Earle, a USGS geologist.

“There could be more” aftershocks, said Stony Brook geophysicist William Holt, but “they’ll spread themselves out, become more and more infrequent.”

After the initial quake, Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state's emergency management team was assessing roads, bridges and other vulnerable infrastructure but that no life-threatening situations had been identified.

“This is one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast to occur in the last century,” Hochul said during a briefing in Albany, calling it “a very unsettling day.”

Earle said the earthquake was unrelated to Monday’s total eclipse, or warmer than usual ocean temperatures.

Infrastructure checks, no outages

While the quake rattled more than a few nerves, key infrastructure and service areas across the region appeared to have escaped unscathed.

PSEG Long Island said it did not detect any related outages, and that staff was performing “a complete system check to ensure there is no damage.”

The state Department of Transportation said after the initial quake that it had no reports of any damage on bridges and other critical infrastructure, while the Port Authority said preliminary inspections found no issues at tunnels, bridges or airport runways.

Newark Liberty International Airport was one of the few locations in the region to experience a direct impact, suspending flight operations for 20 minutes immediately after the quake while delays of more than an hour persisted throughout much of the afternoon.

Erica Clark, of Manhattan, experienced a four-hour delay en route to Newark airport.

Clark, who was returning from a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee, with her 3-year-old daughter, said her plane was scheduled to land at Newark at roughly 10:45 a.m., but that around 10:30 passengers were notified that the air traffic control tower had been evacuated due to an earthquake. The plane then spent an hour in a midair holding pattern, she said.

“It was really scary when we were flying around for an hour because it wasn’t clear if we had enough gas, how long we could circle ...,” she said. “I’m flying with a 3-year-old, and that was also less than ideal.”

Her flight was rerouted to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and passengers later boarded another flight that landed in Newark around 3 p.m.

Kennedy, LaGuardia and MacArthur airports all continued operating after the earthquake, as did all MTA services, including the subways and Long Island Rail Road, officials said.

The earthquake was felt during batting practice at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx before the team’s 1:05 p.m. home opener against the Blue Jays, but none of the players seemed to notice. Batting practice continued without a pause. There were no fans at the stadium at the time.

“Oh, yeah, I felt it. I was in the clubhouse at my locker,” said Yankees starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who is from Medford. “... We were just kind of asking around, ‘What was that?’ We thought it was maybe somebody pushing something up on the concourse. No one really knew.” 

‘Extremely traumatic’

Long Island hospitals did not report anyone arriving at their facilities with injuries related to the quake, officials said.

Buildings across Nassau and Suffolk counties also appeared to escape any major damage.

Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine said the county's Department of Public Works was conducting an assessment but that “no major incidents have been reported.”

County police received more than 200 calls to 911 in the aftermath of the initial quake and responded to two: a Jeep that fell into a sinkhole on Nassau Road in Huntington, and a resident who noticed cracks in the Sheetrock on the walls of her home in Bellport. It was not immediately clear if either incident was earthquake-related.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said during a news conference Friday that there were no reports of damage, including at government buildings, Nassau University Medical Center, area bridges or a temporary cricket stadium being built in Eisenhower Park.

“Everything is calm. There is no reported significant damage,” Blakeman said.

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said police received “a flurry” of 911 calls for a period of 45 minutes, “and then it all stopped. It went back to normal business.”

New York Mayor Eric Adams, speaking in Brooklyn at the city’s emergency response center, said the city had not received any reports of injuries or major damage.

“Earthquakes don’t happen every day in New York, so this can be extremely traumatic,” said Adams, urging residents to go about their business. “We’re ready for the unexpected. This is New York City.”

NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said the 911 and 311 systems saw an uptick in calls, but the volume quickly subsided to normal levels.

While Zach Iscol, head of emergency management for the city, said there  were no known major impacts or “safety events” related to the earthquake, City Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo said construction sites must still be checked for structural damage.

City Schools Chancellor David Banks said there was no indication of damage to any school buildings. Afternoon school dismissal and activities continued as normal.

More than 80 minutes after the earthquake, the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services sent out an emergency alert warning about potential aftershocks.

“Aftershocks can last for a week,” said agency spokeswoman Heather Groll, noting that the purpose of the alert was not to make the public aware of the earthquake, which had already been widely reported.

‘A strange feeling’

Long Islanders said they were shocked to feel the earth move beneath them.

Patricia Richardson, of East Islip, said she was sitting at her kitchen table when she noticed her washing machine was making an odd rumbling sound. When the glasses in her cabinets began to rattle, she realized it was an earthquake, as she had experienced one a few years ago.

“It’s a strange feeling; it was only for a few seconds,” she said. “A lot goes through your mind.”

Robert Pistone, 83, of Port Jefferson Station, said he was sitting in his home and felt a vibration come up his legs. His house usually shakes when a large truck or trailer drives by, he said. When he saw his glass of water shaking, he knew it was something more.

“It was weird,” he said. 

Barbara McKelvie, of Amityville, was sitting on her bed and looking at her phone when she felt a deep, trembling sensation for about 30 to 60 seconds. “I thought something was actually crawling through my mattress,” she said.

Minutes after tremors were felt, the phone lines at Southold police headquarters were inundated with calls, according to Police Chief Martin Flatley.

“It was kind of flooded there when it first happened,” Flatley said, adding that there were no damages reported or services disrupted.

Long Beach City Hall was briefly evacuated when the earthquake hit, although there was no reported damage, city spokesman John McNally said. The city has had no reports of accidents or structural issues, he said.

Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer said there was no apparent structural damage in that town. "We've had calls just about the earthquake itself, just people talking about it," he said. "But there's been nothing about any damage or concerns."

Huntington Highway Superintendent Andre Sorrentino knows what it feels like when the earth moves. Repaving roads with excavators makes him an expert.

So, when he was in the highway yard in Elwood and the ground shook for a couple of seconds, he didn’t think twice.

“It’s the same feeling we get when we're on an excavation site and a big, heavy piece of equipment is rumbling across the ground,” he said. 

School leaders across Long Island quickly sent alerts to parents after the quake, letting them know that children were safe and that staff had checked the structural integrity of buildings and classrooms.

Educators, meanwhile, took the event in stride, with some incorporating it into their lessons.

“We maintained business as usual,” said Kerri Ierardi, a kindergarten teacher at Manetuck Elementary School in West Islip. “I didn’t bring any attention to it," she said, adding she thought it would be better for the children to discuss it at home.

Within New York State, there have been more than 550 earthquakes recorded since the 1700s, state officials said.

Cornell University  said most earthquakes in the state  occur around New York City, the Finger Lakes west of Rochester, and the Adirondack Mountains, where the strongest tremors have been recorded.

Earthquakes in the Northeast

Most severe earthquakes that are felt in the Northeast are centered in Virginia and in New England, although several smaller quakes that were felt by New Yorkers were centered within state.

According to the Cornell University, the Columbia University Climate School, the U.S. Geological Society and the Northeast States Emergency Consortium, the biggest earthquakes to rattle the Northeast and felt in New York include:

2023, a reading of 3.8 on the Richter scale was reported on Feb. 6, 2023, near Watertown.

2011, a 5.8 reading was centered in central Virginia.

2002, a 5.1 reading was centered in Au Sable Forks, in the Adirondacks.

1983, a 5.1 reading was reported in Newcomb in the Adirondacks.

1966, a reading of 4.6 in Attica, near Buffalo, the site of the state prison.

1944, a 5.0 reading was from a quake on the border between Canada and New York state and was centered in Mineral, Virginia.

1929, a 4.7 reading in 1929 east of Buffalo.

1884, a 5.0 estimated reading was centered in New York City, causing extensive damage.

1791, an estimated reading of 5.0 centered in Hartford, Connecticut.

1755, an estimated reading of 6.2 in Boston.

1727, an estimated reading of 5.6 in Boston.

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