Utah’s largest earthquake in nearly 30 years struck just after 7 a.m. the morning of March 18, adding another layer of fear and anxiety to the community in a time of global uncertainty.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 5.7 magnitude quake hit Magna at around 7:09 a.m., waking residents from Logan all the way down to Utah County.
A series of aftershocks followed, ranging from magnitudes of 2.5 to 3.9, according to the USGS. Utah officials warn that there will likely be more aftershocks throughout the next few days.
Weber State University issued a Code Purple alert at 8:36 a.m. stating that campuses were assessed for damage with none reported. The message urged students to remember to drop, cover and hold on in light of any aftershocks.
Power outages for roughly 47,000 customers, mostly in Salt Lake County, were reported Wednesday morning, according to Rocky Mountain Power.
So far no major injuries have been reported, although some homes and businesses described pictures falling off walls, dishes out of cupboards, products off of shelves and buildings shedding bricks. The Salt Lake Temple also appeared to be damaged after the angel Moroni was spotted missing his trumpet after the earthquake.
The earthquake struck amid Utah’s coronavirus crisis, with many residents taking shelter in their homes to avoid spreading or contracting the virus. Gov. Gary Herbert announced on Twitter that the Utah Department of Health state lab is assessing damage and currently down. The poison control center and Utah Coronavirus Task Force are also down and have been evacuated.
The Salt Lake City International Airport also closed due to the quake. According to airport officials, concourses, terminals and the Federal Aviation Administration tower have been evacuated and the airport is no longer operational. The facility’s social media accounts are urging people to not come out to the airport, as the road leading up to the airport has also been closed.
The last earthquake of this magnitude in Utah hit St. George in 1992, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. The quake was reportedly a 5.9 magnitude.
The Utah Division of Emergency Management shared Wednesday morning some of the things the public can do to start preparing for earthquakes. The tips included keeping a flashlight and shoes by your bed, strapping your water heater to the studs and making earthquake preparedness plans. The division also directed the public to visit bereadyUtah.gov for a list of steps they can take to stay safe in an earthquake situation.