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Buffalo, New York, area is hit with the strongest earthquake in 40 years

“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo. I jumped out of bed,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said of Monday's 3.8-magnitude quake.
A magnitude-3.8 earthquake was felt Monday in Buffalo, N.Y..
A magnitude-3.8 earthquake was felt Monday in Buffalo, N.Y.. USGS

A 3.8-magnitude earthquake struck Monday morning near Buffalo, New York, the strongest recorded in the area in 40 years.

The quake hit 1.24 miles east-northeast of West Seneca, New York, with a depth of 1.86 miles, around 6:15 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said no damage had been reported so far in West Seneca, a suburb of Buffalo near the U.S.-Canada border.

He said he had spoken with the deputy commissioner of the Erie County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Gregory J. Butcher, who said a “confirmed quake was felt as far north as Niagara Falls and south to Orchard Park.”

“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo. I jumped out of bed,” Poloncarz said

Yaareb Altaweel, a seismologist at the National Earthquake Information Center, said Northeast earthquakes “happen all the time” and quakes can strike anywhere at any time. 

Since 1983, there have been 24 earthquakes above magnitude 2.5 in the West Seneca region, with Monday’s being the largest so far in the area.

Altaweel said another 3.8-magnitude quake took place in 1999 in western New York.

“On a scale of earthquakes, 3.8 isn’t that big. But the crust in that region is old crust. It’s old and cold, and the efficiency of transferring the seismic waves versus sedimentary areas — that’s why people can feel it more. That’s why earthquakes can be felt even at 1.0 in some places,” he said.

Altaweel said a 3.8-magnitude quake is “not a big earthquake that you’d expect damage from.”

Existing fractures and fault lines can cause earthquakes to hit so far inland, he said.

Altaweel said there was nothing abnormal about this shock.

“I’d say it’s very normal. There was one, a 2.6, in March 2022. There was another 2 in 2020. These keep happening in this region at low magnitude,” he said.

Around the globe, an initial 7.8-magnitude earthquake in southeastern Turkey was followed hours later by a 7.5-magnitude quake that shook buildings and killed more than 3,600 people in the country and neighboring Syria. The toll is expected to rise sharply on both sides of the border.