Brooklyn Boro

4.8 magnitude earthquake shakes New York City

4 small aftershocks reported Friday afternoon

April 5, 2024 Mary Frost
People walk around Times Square as news tickers display news about the earthquake on Friday, April 5, 2024, in New York.
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A magnitude 4.8 earthquake shook New York City Friday morning at 10:23 a.m., rattling windows, shaking picture frames and swaying lamps.

“I’m still shaking with an adrenaline rush,” Brooklyn Heights resident Andrew Porter told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“The house shook for ten seconds,” said Boerum Hill resident Sidney Meyer, who knew right away it was an earthquake. “I recognized it from the last one 20 years ago.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake originated near Clinton in central New Jersey. At 10:48 a.m., New York City’s Emergency Management confirmed that a quake hit the region.

Three small aftershocks hit the region Friday afternoon following the main quake, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted just before 3 p.m.

“Following this morning’s 4.8 magnitude earthquake, three much smaller aftershocks hit our region: 1.8 magnitude at 12:31 p.m., 2.0 magnitude at 1:14 p.m., and 2.0 magnitude a few minutes ago. Aftershocks of these sizes are normal and are not expected to cause further damage,” she wrote.

A fourth aftershock occurred slightly before 6 p.m.

City brass report no damage, defend slow notification

At a midday press conference attended by multiple agency heads, Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol reported that there were no immediate major impacts or safety events related to the earthquake. Iscol asked New Yorkers to call 311 to report damage, and preserve 911 for “life safety events.”

Buildings Commissioner James Odo said the agency had not seen an influx of calls by midday Friday regarding building damage from the quake. “We are putting on additional construction and engineering professionals from this point on over the weekend, so if reports do come in, we will be ready to respond,” he said.

One concern was the potential for gas leaks, said Matt Ketschke, president of Con Edison. “I encourage — if you smell gas — either call 911 or 1-800-75-CON-ED and report the gas leak. Do not assume that somebody else has reported it,” he said.

After inspections, the transit system was operating as usual, said Janno Lieber, Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO. Schools Chancellor David Banks also reported that schools had been inspected, and no damage was discovered.

Reporters at the news conference noted that the NotifyNYC earthquake alert “went out about 20 minutes, a little bit more, after the earthquake,” even though Gov. Hochul and other officials had already been tweeting about the quake. The wireless emergency alert was sent out even later, about 40 minutes after the event.

Iscol defended the timing, however. “I think 20 minutes time to target is pretty fast for a public notification. First off, there’s a lot of work we have to do to make sure we’re getting confirmation from USGS that this was actually an earthquake. There’s a lot of things that can cause buildings to shake. Two, we also need to make sure we’re putting out the proper guidance. Twenty minutes is very, very fast for a public notification.”

Concerns about telephone service were also raised, after some circuits were clogged following the quake.

Police Commissioner Edward Caban said the 911 system had seen “an uptick starting at 10:30, and it’s subsided to its normal call volume by 11 a.m. Right now, it stands at its normal call volume.”

In response to a reporter’s question about overloaded cell phone towers or problems affecting the 911 system, Deputy Mayor Levy was unclear. “One thing also I would just point out: we had an uptick in 311 calls. Obviously, we know there was an earthquake. Our teams are on the ground, so we don’t need that anymore.” He then ended the press conference.

A map of the earthquake.
A map of the earthquake. Graphic courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey


Falling plaster, ‘booming sounds’

Reports of shaking homes, plaster falling off old buildings and “booming” sounds came in from Bay Ridge to Red Hook, Downtown Brooklyn to Greenpoint.

“Felt it! First, sounded like a major truck on the street; then everything started to shake. Geez! My knees are still shaking,” a Boerum Hill resident who uses the name “Snowsostill” wrote on a local message board.

“I’m sitting in my apartment, and all of a sudden, I feel it shake,” said Brooklyn Heights resident William Balardelle. “Some books came off the shelves, and I’m saying, “What is this?’ The floor was moving. You don’t think an earthquake would hit New York.”

Residents of higher floors had a moment of panic as their buildings swayed and rattled. “People buggin’,” said Joe in Manhattan, who asked that only his first name be used.

This might have been the first earthquake in the Tri-State region shared on Zoom as it happened.

“I was on a Zoom with folks in Westchester and Manhattan, and we all felt it,” said Boerum Hill resident Rachel Schnoll.

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