‘Be ready for more earthquakes’: USGS says aftershocks possible after 5.1 earthquake felt across NC

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SPARTA, N.C. — Experts with the United States Geological Survey are telling people to “be ready for more earthquakes” since aftershocks will continue near the mainshock.

The 5.1 earthquake centered in Sparta was felt across North Carolina on Sunday morning.

The earthquake was centered 54 miles northwest of Winston-Salem and happened at 8:07 a.m., according to the official USGS report.

Many who felt the earthquake said it lasted 10-15 seconds. Sunday’s 5.1 earthquake is the strongest earthquake to happen in North Carolina since 1916.

A viewer in Pfafftown told us, “Around 8 a.m. this morning, our bedroom shook. We thought a tree had fallen but then heard it was an earthquake.”

“The USGS advises everyone to be aware of the possibility of aftershocks, especially when in or around vulnerable structures such as unreinforced masonry buildings,” the website reads.

Throughout next week, there is a 4 percent chance that one or more aftershocks will be larger than magnitude 5.1, according to the USGS forecast.

Smaller earthquakes are more likely through next week.

The chance of a magnitude 3 or higher earthquake is 56 percent.

Magnitude 3 and above are large enough to be felt near the epicenter. The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily.

USGS experts say this earthquake could be part of a sequence.

“An earthquake sequence may have larger and potentially damaging earthquakes in the future, so remember to: Drop, Cover, and Hold on,” the website reads.

  • Betty Sue Poole, who lives near Pine Swamp Road in Sparta, shared photos of the damage in her home after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area. (Courtesy of Betty Sue Poole)
  • Betty Sue Poole, who lives near Pine Swamp Road in Sparta, shared photos of the damage in her home after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area. (Courtesy of Betty Sue Poole)
  • Betty Sue Poole, who lives near Pine Swamp Road in Sparta, shared photos of the damage in her home after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area. (Courtesy of Betty Sue Poole)
  • Betty Sue Poole, who lives near Pine Swamp Road in Sparta, shared photos of the damage in her home after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area. (Courtesy of Betty Sue Poole)
  • Betty Sue Poole, who lives near Pine Swamp Road in Sparta, shared photos of the damage in her home after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area. (Courtesy of Betty Sue Poole)

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