San Francisco. Central America. Even Yellowstone National Park. But eastern Wyoming…?
The wide open plains of central and eastern Wyoming aren’t what most people think of when earthquakes are mentioned.
But the sleepy town of Rolling Hills, Wyoming (population 450), was jolted out of a quiet evening Sunday around 9:50 p.m. by a nearby earthquake.
“It was very quick, it was very loud, and it felt like something hit the north side of our house,” said Teresa Montgomery, who works for the Town of Rolling Hills, about 4 miles north of Glenrock. The epicenter of the 3.7 magnitude quake was 11 miles west of the small town on the plains of eastern Wyoming.“
My husband and my son were out looking around trying to figure out what it was,” Montgomery explained. “And my husband noticed all the other neighbors out looking around trying to figure out what it was. I wouldn’t have said it was an earthquake, though. You know how, you see in California that houses shake and things like that for a long time? It didn’t do that, it was very quick.”
A series of Facebook posts show that the earthquake was felt as far away as Casper. Some reported that they felt as if their house had been hit by a vehicle; others said the rumble moved furniture or sloshed the drink in their glasses. Residents reported that animals were spooked, and some noted that they thought an explosion had occurred.
The website volcanodiscovery.com reports that in the past 30 days, Wyoming has been shaken by one earthquake of magnitude 4.1, five quakes between 3.0 and 4.0 and 49 quakes between 2.0 and 3.0.
There were also 236 quakes below magnitude 2.0 – which experts say aren’t usually noticeable. Montgomery said it’s been a long time since there’s been an earthquake in their part of the state.
“There was one years and years ago,” she recalled. “And I remember being asleep, and kind of waking up because the house was shaking, and thinking, ‘Well, that was an earthquake,’ and then I went back to sleep, it wasn’t that strong. But this one was very loud.”
According to the website Shakeout.org, earthquakes have been reported in every county in the state, with most occurring in the Wyoming’s western third. The Wyoming State Geological Survey reported that the largest earthquake recorded to date in Wyoming occurred Aug. 18, 1959, in Yellowstone National Park.
The earthquake registered as a magnitude 6.5, and is considered to be an aftershock of the magnitude 7.5 quake at Hebgen Lake in southwestern Montana that killed 28 people.