MANHATTAN - The Gallatin Valley community is reacting after a 4.0 magnitude earthquake that left Bozeman shaking on Saturday night.
“We heard it before we felt it,” says Manhattan resident Jessica Zanini. “I turned and said, ‘Is that thunder?’ and everything started shaking.”
The earthquake, which some people said they felt as far away as Casper, Wyoming, 400 miles away, started in a field bordered by train tracks, just two miles northwest of downtown Manhattan.
The quake hit just before 8 PM on Saturday night, 23 miles northwest of Bozeman, with a 0.7 aftershock hitting later that night.
The shallow epicenter of the first quake was only 3.7 miles below the surface.
Most residents say the shaking lasted about four seconds, and while some report the feeling of a sonic boom, others say it was hardly enough for them to notice.
Facebook comments posted on Saturday and Sunday say they had lights shaking, houses creaking and popping, and dishes rattling.
At the Thriftway in Manhattan, employees said the wine bottles shook so violently that they thought they’d break.
Jessica Zanini, a sandwich artist and shift manager at Subway in Manhattan, was at home when she felt it.
“We were outside taking care of our ducks,” Zanini says. “The posts that we have for their fence started shaking, felt like it was about to topple over. The cars started shaking, everything was just shaking, then it stopped.”
Earthquakes are nothing new for the fourth-most seismically-active state.
But Manhattan’s quake comes on the heels of 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude earthquakes in southern California last week and a 4.6 magnitude quake near Seattle early Friday morning.
While Saturday’s quake was a big one for the area, it’s nothing close to the worst southwest Montana has seen. In 1959, the Hebgen Lake earthquake killed at least 28 people and was roughly 178,000 times stronger than Manhattan’s Saturday earthquake.
Zanini says she was more worried about her pets than herself, especially her mother’s cat, which was inside by herself.
While Zanini was safe standing in the middle of a field, if you find yourself inside when a quake hits, the three things you need to do are “drop, cover, and hold” on until it’s done.
Be aware of items that can fall on you, and be prepared for aftershocks.
Scientists say the Seattle quake had no connection to the California tremors. Montana Right Now reached out to several geophysicists, but didn’t hear back about whether Manhattan’s incident could be connected to either West Coast quakes.