Ground shakes near Vega
By Robin Scott
An earthquake struck in the Texas Panhandle early Thursday morning as snow continued to fall throughout the High Plains. Although earthquakes in Texas are rare, they are not unheard of, and Thursday’s quake was relatively small in magnitude.
According to the United States Geological Administration (USGA), the quake, which shook residents approximately 12 miles north of Vega, measured a magnitude of 3.8 and ruptured at 3:41 a.m. with its epicenter at 35.396 degrees N, 102.315 degrees W, which was in a north, northeast direction from Vega.
An Oldham County Dispatcher stated early Thursday, “The dispatcher on duty stated that she thought that someone had run into the building with their vehicle. We also happen to have some inmates in the jail from California who said, ‘That felt like an earthquake.’” The dispatcher reported that the quake was strong enough to knock some snow down, but no reports of injuries or property damage.
Other panhandle region earthquakes have included one on June 19, 1936 which was felt in Gruver, White Deer and Whittenberg. A March 11, 1948 quake was felt as far north as southeastern Colorado, and a strong quake shook Dalhart and Channing on June 20, 1951. That quake was felt in an area of approximately 129,000 square kilometers.
Many other Texas cities have experienced earthquakes, from El Paso in the southwest to Sherman in the northeast. Most of the reports about Texas quakes detailed property damage but no loss of life or injury. A February 15, 1974 quake in the Texas Panhandle that measured a magnitude of 4.5 caused plaster cracks at Booker, Darrovzett, and Perryton.
More than 100 quakes have been recorded in Texas statewide in the last 100 years that were large enough to be felt. The University of Texas at Austin, Institute for Geophysics, also reports that earthquake epicenters occur in 40 of Texas’ 257 counties.