Nightly News   |  February 10, 2010

Rare 3.8 magnitude quake rocks Chicago area

A minor earthquake struck about 40 miles outside of Chicago early Wednesday morning, jolting awake a region already mostly buried beneath recent snowfall. NBC's John Yang reports.

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>> you later in the broadcast.

>>> our next story comes from the american midwest . it also involves nature, and the weirdest kind of wake-up for people in the chicago region. turns out it was just what they suspected. tonight the story from nbc's john yang .

>> continuing the earthquake coverage this morning, never thought i would say that.

>> reporter: beneath a blanket of fresh snow outside chicago this morning, a rude wake-up call.

>> we felt it have a good rumble where it oak everybody up.

>> couldn't figure out what was going on. i thought i had a bad dream .

>> reporter: the unusual 3.8 magnitude quake hit just before 4:00 a.m .

>> phones in our newsrooms and police stations ringing off the hook.

>> reporter: it didn't cause any reported injuries or much visible damage, but it startled people as far away as michigan and iowa.

>> 3.8 happens every week in california. in illinois, it's a once every 20 years sort of event.

>> reporter: the epicenter was about 40 miles west of chicago . scientists said it didn't appear to be related to either of the area's two known major faults. in chicago , digging out from as much as a foot of snow, many didn't notice.

>> actually, i thought it was a small shark in the snow.

>> reporter: big snowstorms, howling winter winds and even though it may be hard to imagine on a day like today, sweltering summer heat , but earthquakes?

>> you expect that in other states, but not here. it's weird.

>> reporter: the midwest is no stranger to quakes. in early 1800s , three massive ones in missouri levelled 150,000 acres of forest, created new lakes and changed the course of the mississippi river . scientists said today's small quake probably isn't a sign of a bigger one on the way leaving residents to cope with the more usual kind of fallout. john yang , nbc news, chicago .

>>> we are going to, i