‘My whole house shook’: Overnight earthquake strikes in N.J.

New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection says the state is probably overdue for a more significant earthquake. (NBC10)

New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection says the state is probably overdue for a more significant earthquake. (NBC10)

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake struck in Monmouth County, New Jersey, early Wednesday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The USGS said the earthquake happened around 2 a.m. and was centered 1.25 miles south, southeast of the center of East Freehold, about 3 miles deep.

Residents took to social media to express their shock at the rare occurrence.

“My whole house just shook,” Kellie Ann wrote to Jersey Shore Hurricane News’ Facebook page at 2:09 a.m.

In Keyport, Stephanie Flikkema said was woken up from the shaking, and in East Freehold, Molly Burwell Heaney said there was a “huge noise” and her house shook “like it was hit [by] a tractor-trailer.”

Hundreds of people as far away as Philadelphia and Long Island, New York, contributed to the USGS’ “Did You Feel It?” map, reporting only weak or light shaking and no damage.

“It would be very surprising for us to see anything more than you know, damaged shelves or picture frames falling off of windows,” said Robert Sanders, a geophysicist with the survey.

“That’s a fairly uncommon event magnitude for quakes in this area,” Sanders said. Since 1970, there have been two other quakes within 10 miles of this location, a 3.5 in 1979 and a 3.1 in 1992, he said.

In August 2011, New Jersey was rattled by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in the Piedmont region of Virginia. Within seconds, frenzied social media users posted about the experience, and cell phone lines became jammed.

In Atlantic City, numerous high rise buildings were evacuated, and some beachgoers at the time said they feared a tsunami.

While the August 2011 earthquake wasn’t centered in New Jersey, the state has experienced dozens of weaker local seismic events, according to the United States Geological Survey.

In Nov. 2017, portions of New Jersey felt a 4.1 magnitude earthquake, and a “microearthquake” occurred in June 2019.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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