Strongest earthquake in 40 years startles Buffalo, upstate New York

A small earthquake rumbled through Buffalo and western New York Monday morning, alarming people in a region unaccustomed to such shaking but apparently causing no significant damage.

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A small earthquake rumbled through Buffalo and western New York Monday morning, alarming people in a region unaccustomed to such shaking but

A small earthquake rumbled through Buffalo and western New York Monday morning, alarming people in a region unaccustomed to such shaking but apparently causing no significant damage.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey a 3.8-magnitude earthquake centered east of Buffalo in the suburb of West Seneca at 6:15 a.m. The earthquake occurred nearly 2 miles below the surface. Seismologist Yaareb Altaweel said it was the region’s strongest quake in at least 40 years.

The shaking lasted several seconds and sent residents first to their windows and then to social media in search of an explanation.

“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo. I jumped out of bed,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted. Erie County emergency services officials confirmed the earthquake was felt in at least a 30-mile radius, including in Niagara Falls, about 20 miles north of Buffalo, he said.

Earthquake Canada, which measured a 4.2 magnitude event, reported it was felt slightly in southern Ontario.

The earthquake comes on the heels of two record-breaking weather events in the Buffalo region: A snowstorm that dropped as much as 7 feet of snow in November and a blizzard in December that is blamed for 47 deaths.

Earthquakes in upstate New York, Rochester region
Earthquakes in New York State are not uncommon

The state’s largest earthquake was reported on Sept. 5, 1944, with an epicenter near Massena, St. Lawrence County. The 5.8-magnitude earthquake was felt from Canada to Maryland and Indiana to Maine. It did $2 million in damage in Massena and Cornwall, Canada.

It also shook homes in the Rochester area, and some residents who called authorities, but caused no significant damage here.

A magnitude-5.1 quake centered 45 miles northwest of Ottawa, Canada, caused a rumble in Rochester May 17, 2003.

Among some more recent minor earthquakes in western New York, a 1.2-magnitude temblor shook Le Roy, Genesee County, in August 2022, a 2.6-magnitude earthquake struck near Warsaw, Wyoming County, in March 2022 and a 2.4-magnitude temblor struck the hamlet of Tuscarora in southwestern Livingston County in May 2021.

3.8 magnitude earthquake rattles Buffalo, New York, suburbs

“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo,” a local official said.

A 3.8 magnitude earthquake struck the suburbs of Buffalo, New York, early Monday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The center of the quake was near West Seneca, officials said. Shaking was felt as far north as Niagara Falls and as far sound as south to Orchard Park, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said on Twitter.

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

The quake struck about 2 km east-northeast of West Seneca at 6:15 a.m., according to preliminary date from USGS officials.

There were no immediate reports of damage, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

“My team is in touch with local officials and we will provide any support needed,” she said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. ABC News’ Michael Kreisel and Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this report.

Earthquake strikes near Buffalo: ‘It felt like a car hit my house’

Syracuse, N.Y. — A 3.8-magnitude earthquake hit near Buffalo at 6:15 a.m. today, rattling houses and waking up Western New Yorkers.

“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo,” tweeted Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “I jumped out of bed.”

Poloncarz said there had been no reports of damage.

The quake was centered about 4 miles east of Buffalo, and happened about 2 miles underground, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS has received more than 2,500 reports from people who say they felt the quake, including Niagara Falls, Rochester and southern Ontario.

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Western New Yorkers wrote on social media that they at first thought the earthquake was a truck hitting their house, a water tank exploding, or a sonic boom.

“Omg, I’m shaking in Cheektowaga!!!,” one woman wrote.

And, this being Buffalo, many immediately made a connection to snow.

“Thought it was snow falling from the roof,” one Twitter user wrote.

“You know you are from Buffalo when an earthquake wakes you up and your first thought is ‘was that a snow plow?,’” tweeted Kevin O’Neill.

The USGS said the region gets “moderately frequent earthquakes,” most weak enough that they don’t cause damage.

A 3.8-magnitude earthquake is relatively weak and is not expected to cause much damage, Earthquakes Canada said.

The scale used to measure earthquakes is logarithmic, so each number is 10 times more severe. A 5-magnitude quake is 10 times stronger than a 4, for example.

Earthquake hits Buffalo suburb

Minor tremor in West Seneca hit with a preliminary 3.8 magnitude that was felt as far away as southern Canada and northern Pennsylvania

A minor earthquake hit western New York Monday morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports the quake with an epicenter in the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca registered a preliminary magnitude of 3.8 on the Richter Scale. The quake happened shortly after 6 a.m.

Seismologist Yaareb Altaweel said it was the region’s strongest quake in at least 40 years, according to the Associated Press.

The USGS reports that people felt the crash as far away as Oshawa in Canada and Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains. The agency says people can use this link to report feeling the quake.

A quake of that magnitude is considered minor, according to the geological survey.

“It felt like a car hit my house in Buffalo. I jumped out of bed,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted. County emergency services officials confirmed the earthquake was felt in at least a 30-mile radius, including in Niagara Falls, about 20 miles north of Buffalo, he said.

Small earthquakes are not unusual in upstate New York but are rarely felt as strongly. The earthquake comes on the heels of two record-breaking weather events in the region: A snowstorm that dropped as much as 7 feet of snow in November and a blizzard in December that is blamed for 47 deaths.

By contrast, two separate major earthquakes that hit Turkey on Monday measured magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5. The quakes and their aftershocks are being blamed for at least 1,300 with the death toll expected to rise significantly in the coming hours and days.

USGS reports earthquake in Erie County

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) — An earthquake occurred this morning in western New York, registering at magnitude 3.8.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located 1.3 miles east northeast of West Seneca.

The National Weather Service says “At about 6:15 a.m. EST today, an earthquake was felt strongly by many people in the Buffalo, NY area. It is unknown yet if there is any damage from the earthquake.”

News 4 received numerous calls from people who reported feeling something in places like Lackawanna, Kenmore, Buffalo, Amherst, Hamburg and West Seneca. We were live on the air when it happened.

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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he spoke with the Erie County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and said a “confirmed quake was felt as far north as Niagara Falls and south to Orchard Park from initial reports.”

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

News 4’s Hope Winter was at EG Tax in Tonawanda Monday morning when the quake hit.

There, Esther Gulyas told us “I’ve been in South America when I’ve been in an earthquake, but this was really unusual cause it felt like a bomb or something hit my building.”

We spoke with West Seneca Town Supervisor Gary Dickson during this morning. Around 7 a.m., he said he wasn’t aware of any damage that occurred in the town as a result of the earthquake.

But further north, Mayor Byron Brown says a chimney came down on a car in north Buffalo.

This is far from the first time western New York has experienced an earthquake. Just last year, a minor quake occurred in Warsaw, registering at magnitude 2.6.

Looking at southern Ontario and western New York as a whole, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) says the region experiences “moderately frequent earthquakes at least since the first one was reported in 1840.” The largest reported earthquake occurred near Attica in 1929 and registered at magnitude 4.9, causing “moderate damage.”

“Earthquakes too small to cause damage are felt roughly three or four times per decade, although only one was felt during the 1940s and eight were felt during the 1960s,” the USGS says.

On Facebook and Twitter, we asked users if they felt anything Monday morning. Click/tap either link to see what they said.

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.