A whole lot of shaking going on
By IRENE NOLAN
was sitting at my desk in my office on Monday afternoon around 4:30
when the door out to the porch startling rattling and shaking.
was a sunny, mild day with no wind to speak of. The house was
quiet and the noise got my attention. I watched and listened for
maybe 10 or 15 seconds and the rattling ended.
So, no wind. No
storm clouds on the horizon. No one was running up my steps. I
didn't hear any trucks rumbling around the neighborhood. No
aircraft noise from above.
Suddenly, it was just quiet again.
will admit that I thought about an earthquake -- now that I am a
veteran. My first was in August 2011 just days before Hurricane
Irene hit the island when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake --- centered
outside of Richmond in northern Virginia -- shook much of the East
I'd never experienced an earthquake before, and when it
happened, I was standing in my living room watching The Weather
Channel. However, there was no question in my mind but that it was an
The rattling on Monday was different from that -- it was more noise than motion and I heard it more than I felt it.
I quickly put it out of my mind and moved on with work.
Then it happened a second time -- around 6 p.m. Again I sat and watched and listened.
Interesting, I thought to myself and moved on with work.
that night and yesterday, I read that other folks had also felt the
shaking and that, although it apparently wasn't an earthquake, no one
really knew what it was. As usual, there was plenty of
I had other news stories to pursue today and it was
two days after the event, so I decided I really didn't need to write an
article about the curious shaking and rattling.
Until it happened again.
was sitting at my desk again this afternoon when the porch door started
rattling loudly. I was startled. It couldn't be happening
again. Could it?
I looked at the time - 3:59 p.m. I
stopped what I was doing and watched the door shake --again for 15
seconds or so. And, again, it suddenly stopped. The wind
had stopped blowing. No one running up the steps. No trucks
rumbling around the neighborhood. No aircraft noise.
time I decided to see if others were also hearing or feeling the
movement, so I posted on the Island Free Press Facebook Page and the
replies started rolling in -- dozens of them.
Yes, other folks
felt it, heard it, whatever. In my neighborhood in Brigands' Bay,
other areas of Frisco, Buxton, Avon and up to Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil
Hills. On Monday, folks reported the rumbling from up in Virginia Beach
and out on the Eastern Shore.
I was talking on the phone with
Donna Barnett about the shaking a few minutes after I posted -- and it
happened again. This time at 4:13 p.m. This time I could also
feel the chair shaking.
And this time, I had to try to figure out what was happening, so I got online, found phone numbers, and started making calls.
ended up talking with Don Blakemore, a geophysicist at the United
States Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center in
After listening to we had experienced, Blakemore
said he hates to always blame it on the military, but when he gets
these calls, that is usually the cause.
"Typically," he said, "it's the military causing sonic booms."
assured him that we were used to sonic booms out here on the barrier
islands, and that this was not a sonic boom. He said that you
don't always hear or feel the "boom" with a sonic boom -- sometimes
it's just the energy causing shaking or rumbling or whatever.
He checked all his seismological data and assured me that we had not experienced an earthquake.
did say that a 2.8 magnitude earthquake was measured early on Sunday
morning, March 15, near Louisa, Va., which is just outside Richmond.
He said he had a few calls on Monday, but there was no earthquake that day -- or yesterday or today.
asked Blakemore about seismic cannons that might be in use offshore in
oil and gas exploration. He said he had some experience with seismic
testing, and what we experienced was also probably not seismic testing.
"That's much lower energy," he said. "And it's not a one-time event...it can go on and on for hours."
In other words, we probably wouldn't experience seismic testing with periodic shaking or rumbling.
I guess we are left with the idea that it was probably the military --
with some kind of training or exercises. That's fairly common off
the coast, but just try to find out when it is happening or if it is
causing our shaking phenomenon. The military doesn't really share
that kind of information -- or at least I've never found a public
information officer chatty enough to discuss it.
We'll keep asking and let you know if we find out more.
Meanwhile, let us know if you feel more of our strange shaking, rattling, and rolling.