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Ten years ago today, at 1:51 p.m. a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia and the D.C. region, an unexpected jolt that sent residents and workers fleeing into the streets.

Damage from the earthquake locally was scattered and relatively minor. Loose items fell from store shelves. Some brick structures like chimneys were damaged. Walls cracked at historic Arlington House. The foundation at Arlington Fire Station No. 2 was damaged. The Thomas Jefferson Theater had to be closed for repairs. There were also reports of broken glass.

And that’s not to mention what happened across the Potomac River.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, cell phone service was overloaded by people calling loved ones. Numerous gas leaks were reported and hundreds of Dominion customers in Arlington lost power. Office buildings closed for damage assessments, and highways were jammed with workers heading home early. In Courthouse, court employees, police and other county workers gathered in the middle of the street.

ARLnow’s initial article on the quake published two minutes after it started, but due to a crush of web traffic our server crashed and remained only periodically reachable for at least an hour.

“I remember sitting in my office, in my then-apartment along Columbia Pike, and feeling the shaking. My initial thought was that the somewhat creaky building was giving way,” recalls ARLnow editor Scott Brodbeck. “When I realized it was an earthquake, and saw our Twitter mentions blow up with people wondering what was happening, I worked to get something up on the site as soon as possible. It took about three minutes after that for our server to start crashing.”

Luckily, no significant injuries were reported, and the day’s Democratic primary went off without a hitch.

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Metro Station Reopening — “Metro will reopen the Pentagon Station and Pentagon Transit Center to customers beginning with the start of bus and rail service Thursday morning. The station and transit center has been closed since early Tuesday, due to the law enforcement response and investigation following a fatal incident that occurred in the bus bays.” [WMATA]

Chamber Supports Langston Blvd Plan — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce broadly supports the Plan Lee Highway Scenario Analysis, providing for additional commercial and residential density in an established, aging, yet vibrant and critical transit corridor. Moreover, the Chamber encourages creating flexible land use policies and regulations so as to attract investment to the Langston Boulevard corridor.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

ACPD Celebrates ‘National Night Out’ — “Across the nation and throughout the region, neighbors and police mingled Tuesday night in the National Night Out — an annual effort to fight crime by building relationships between communities and police. In Drew Park, nestled in Arlington County, Virginia’s historic Green Valley neighborhood, a DJ played music and children petted a yellow Lab K-9, while their parents huddled together with police officers including Chief Charles ‘Andy’ Penn.” [WTOP]

New Community Center Profiled — “This is a story about a building, but it’s also a story about a park, which flows into the building, driving the structure’s design to an unusually high degree. Located in Arlington, Virginia’s Lubber Run Park–a public recreation area with walking trails and a gentle stream winding through a forest–the Lubber Run Community Center replaces an outdated building from the 1950s that was torn down in 2018.” [Metropolis]

Mini Earthquake Shook Area Yesterday — “A small earthquake shook parts of Central Maryland in the overnight hours of Wednesday morning. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 2.1 earthquake was centered in Clarksville, Maryland, at 2:11 a.m. with a depth of about 1.8 miles.” [WTOP]

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Morning Notes

Windy Day on Tap — After a windy night, more gusty winds are expected today. The gusts are expected to reach up to 40 miles per hour locally. [Twitter]

Lions Club Seeks County Lot for Xmas Tree Sale — “Christmas is coming early for the South Arlington Lions Club. Arlington County Board members on Oct. 19 are expected to allow, for the second year in a row, the service organization to use county-government property on South Four Mile Run Drive for its annual Christmas-tree sale.” [InsideNova]

Local Affordable Housing Group Expanding — “A leading affordable housing nonprofit in Arlington County is expanding its operations into Montgomery County, another sign of a growing regional focus on preserving or producing homes that lower-earning residents can afford.” [Washington Post, Press Release]

Earthquake Drill Today — “Participate in the world’s largest earthquake drill [today] at 10:17 a.m… Go to the lowest floor of the building, drop to your hands/knees, cover your head w/your arm, and hold on to shelter.” [Twitter]

VDOT Studying Changes to Route 50 West of Arlington — “The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding a public information meeting Monday, Oct. 21 on a study of potential safety and operational improvements for three miles of Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) between Jaguar Trail and Wilson Boulevard.” [VDOT]

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(Updated at 5:40 p.m.) The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting a 5.1 4.4 4.1 magnitude earthquake — centered near Dover, Delaware — shook the region just after 4:45 p.m. Thursday.

One local resident said via Twitter that her house shuddered and glassware rattled in the home’s cabinets during the quake. But not everyone felt it — here at ARLnow.com HQ in Clarendon, the quake went unnoticed by three employees until tweets started showing up on our feed.

The temblor may have been the biggest in the Mid-Atlantic region since the August 23, 2011 quake.

Did you feel the quake?

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Morning Notes

2016 election-themed Halloween display on Key Blvd (photo by Katie Pyzyk)

Earthquake Drill Today — Virginia and a handful of other states will be participating in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut earthquake drill today at 10:20 a.m. [ShakeOut.org]

Sobering News on Office Vacancies — County officials are warning that Arlington’s office vacancy rate will remain relatively high for the foreseeable future. Optimistically, economic development officials believe that by “slowly and steadily” winning lease renewals and new tenants, the vacancy rate could decline to just past 15 percent, from the current 20 percent, within a few years. [InsideNova]

Arlington No. 8 on Marathon Training Rankings — Arlington County has ranked No. 8 on a list of the best places to train for a marathon. The county earned high marks for its parks, its walkability and its climate. [Competitor]

Most Popular College Applications — The three top schools in terms of the number of applications from the high school class of 2016 in Arlington were: 1. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2. University of Virginia and 3. Virginia Tech. [Arlington Magazine]

Arlington’s Commuter Efforts Lauded — “Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) is being recognized for weaving mobility into broader efforts to improve local quality of life and economic competitiveness. ACCS was named by the Association for Commuter Transportation as having the best transportation demand management (TDM) program among all large municipalities in the United States.” [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Katie Pyzyk

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Virginia is one of the states participating in the Great Southeast Shakeout this morning.

The shakeout is a multi-state earthquake drill, set to take place at 10:16 a.m. Residents are encouraged to “drop,” “cover” and “hold on” during the drill and during an actual earthquake.

Schools, businesses, community groups across the Commonwealth are expected to participate in the drill.

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Earthquake DrillArlington residents are encouraged to participate in an international earthquake preparedness drill tomorrow (Thursday).

Taking place at 10:17 a.m., The Great Shakeout will drill participants on the proper precautions to take when an earthquake strikes. Even if an earthquake is mild, emergency management experts encourage people to drop to the floor, seek cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on to the shelter until the shockwaves are complete.

The event is being coordinated nationally by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and in Virginia by the state Department of Emergency Management. Virginia’s population is especially encouraged to participate after the 5.8 magnitude Mid-Atlantic earthquake in August 2011, which caused minor damage around Arlington.

Almost 2 million people have registered in the southeast region of the Shakeout, which stretches from Maryland to Georgia, and more than 24 million in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Canada and Italy. Participants can register to join for their family, school, company or other group, and can get resources like drill manuals and flyers.

Image via Shakeout.org

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Expect to hear some strange sounds coming from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall tomorrow (Thursday).

The base will be participating in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut, a regional earthquake drill that’s to take place at 10:18 a.m. In addition to asking those on the base to “drop, cover and hold on,” JBM-HH will be testing its “Big Voice” public address system, which may be heard outside the base.

From a press release:

The ShakeOut is a regional earthquake drill in which participants simultaneously practice the recommended action during an earthquake. This action is known as “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”, which means to:

  • DROP to the ground
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table
  • HOLD-ON to it until the shaking stops

In support of the great shakeout earthquake operation JBM-HH will conduct a test of the giant voice public address system. The test will be conducted on both the Fort McNair and Fort Myer/Henderson Hall portion of JBM-HH at 11 a.m. Residents on and immediately outside the installation can expect to hear the test.

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Exactly one year ago, at 1:51 p.m. on August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia and the D.C. area, a wholly unexpected jolt that sent residents and workers scurrying into the streets.

Damage from the earthquake was relatively minor. Loose items fell from store shelves. Some brick structures like chimneys were damaged. Walls cracked at historic Arlington House. The foundation at Arlington Fire Station No. 2 was damaged. The Thomas Jefferson Theater had to be closed for repairs.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, cell phone service was overloaded by people calling loved ones. Numerous gas leaks are being reported and hundreds of Dominion customers in Arlington lost power. This website crashed and remained only periodically reachable for at least an hour. Office buildings closed for damage assessments, and highways were jammed with workers heading  home early.

If there were some bright spots, it was that no significant injuries were reported, and the day’s Democratic primary went off without a hitch.

After the jump, some videos that were taken in Arlington during and after the earthquake.

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Morning Notes

The Curious Grape to Reopen — There will soon be two competing boutique wine and cheese stores in Shirlington. The Curious Grape, which moved out of its storefront in Shirlington Village earlier this year in order to make way for Cheesetique, just announced that it will be reopening next month in a larger storefront one block away. [Shirlington Village Blog]

Loyalty Oath for Va. GOP Primary — Voters who want to cast their ballot in the March 6 presidential primary in Virginia will be required to sign a loyalty oath. The Virginia Republican Party requested the pledge — which is perfectly legal under Virginia law — as a condition of participation in the primary. The pledge (of support for the eventual Republican presidential nominee) is intended to reduce the number of non-Republicans voting in the otherwise open primary. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Earthquake Still Affecting Local Theater Troupes — The temporary closure of the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater due to earthquake damage is still having repercussions in the local arts community. As a result of the closure, a planned Spring 2012 production of Cats has been postponed until 2013. Also, the county’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute has been moved to Washington-Lee High School. [Sun Gazette]

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You’d heard about damage to the Washington Monument after the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the D.C. area in August. But you probably haven’t heard about the damage suffered by one of the most iconic, historic structures on the other side of the Potomac River.

Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee, suffered significant damage during the quake. Large portions of the 200-year-old house, which overlooks the District from what is now Arlington National Cemetery, are now closed to the public as a result of the quake.

The house’s entire second floor is currently closed, along with a back hallway. We’re told that the quake shifted the structure’s back wall by a quarter of an inch, producing large cracks in the plaster. Though further inspections will be performed, it’s thought that the damage is primarily to the plaster, and not to the structure. Some hairline cracks in the wall as seen from the outside, however, may have been caused by the earthquake; it’s unclear how significant those cracks may be to the structural integrity of the house.

Arlington House was already in the midst of a multi-stage rehabilitation project when the earthquake hit. The National Park Service will try to add earthquake repairs to an existing contract to rehabilitate the home’s interior plaster and paint, according to a park ranger. The work likely wouldn’t be complete until the end of March, at the earliest, we’re told.

In addition to being a national memorial and a tourist destination, Arlington House also serves as the inspiration for the Arlington County seal.

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