A moderate earthquake of 5.8 rattled the east coast from Montreal and Toronto south to Florida. The quake occurred at around 2pm close to the small town of Mineral, Virginia about 90 miles northwest of Washington D.C. While others in Montreal told me they felt the swaying for about 30 seconds, I must admit I did not. Office buildings in New York, Boston and other cities were evacuated, as was the White House and Pentagon. Minor injuries were reported with some serious damage scattered throughout the mid-Atlantic with the worst close to the epicentre in Virginia. Scattered power outages were reported and several nuclear plants were placed on alert or taken offline. Train and plane service slowed or stopped immediately after the quake and is slowly returning to normal. The quake was the worst to affect the region in nearly 100 years.
The region is also preparing for what could be a major hurricane by the weekend. Hurricane Irene is centered near the Turks and Caicos Islands this evening with 90mph winds, a little weaker than earlier today but still expected to become a major hurricane over the next 48 hours. Computer guidance has been shifting the track of the storm further east away from Florida with the last several runs and it now looks like the Outer Banks of North Carolina could be a target. Anybody who knows me or reads this blog knows my connection to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. I have been vacationing there since 1991 including this past May. The thin, fragile barrier islands look like they could take a direct hit from the storm. Further up the coast residents from Virginia to Nova Scotia are being advised to monitor the storm closely. I will have much more on Irene this week, updating via Valley Weather blog or twitter as often as I can.