Christmas Aftershock: Post-Holiday Earthquake Shakes Up/Wakes Up North Harford

The day after Christmas is traditionally a day of relaxation. It’s a time to unwind, decompress and pick up the pieces after surviving another hectic holiday season.

That was generally the case this Friday, which was no different than any other ‘day-after-Christmas’ in the past – that is, until an earthquake of moderate magnitude moderately shook up and woke up residents of Harford County living along the Pennsylvania state line.

After spending much of Friday in bed with a non-alcohol related type of holiday hangover, I found myself up late and mindlessly flipping through the channels (to give you an idea of just how late and how numb my mind was, I believe I ultimately settled on watching ‘Mighty Peking Man’).

Put another way: ’twas the night after Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring except for me and a few of my turtles.

At some point between, I’d say 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., I was jolted out of my half-slumber by a truly epic rattling. Out of nowhere the whole house began to vibrate, from wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor.

In later retellings of the event, I likened the rattling to that produced by an unbalanced washing machine that’s been overloaded and begins to ‘walk’ it’s way across the floor with increasingly violent movements. In this scenario my house was the washing machine and I was part of the shaken load within.

The shaking lasted only a few seconds, maybe 6 or so, but was jarring enough to snap nearly every resident in my house out of their post-Christmas slumber. The dogs went wild and were running around barking at the unseen force. The wife charged out of the bedroom and asked what the hell was going on (that’s sort of a paraphrase). I was on my feet fumbling for a flashlight.

My first horrible thought was that a water pipe had burst in the earthen crawlspace beneath the house (it happened once before and produced a similarly terrible noise and shaking that still haunt me) or that the heating oil tank had ruptured and was decanting hundreds of gallons of fuel into my basement or yard. When neither of those fates proved accurate and a quick check of the furnace showed it too was still in one piece and functional, I turned my suspicions outside the house.

Was it some multi-ton delivery truck barrelling through Rocks State Park in the middle of a Friday night? That seemed as unlikely as my other guesses – some sort of experimental, low-flying aircraft that buzzed the house or the felling of a nearby ancient tree.

At some point I finally exclaimed, “You know, it really felt like how I would imagine an earthquake.”

With the possible sources of the shaking dwindling down to the supernatural, I was off to bed.

In the morning, I scoured the news, but read nothing about any reported ‘violent shakings’ in the area, so I put it out of my mind. I was fortunate, however, to have mentioned that the event “felt like an earthquake” to a few family members on Saturday – only to be met with slowly rolling eyes.

So imagine my glee when, later Saturday night, it was reported on the late night local news that indeed a moderate earthquake had rattled the area. Sweet vindication courtesy of the WJZ news team!

According to a more detailed report in today’s Sun paper, the U.S. Geological Society placed the epicenter of the 3.3-magnitude earthquake about 40 miles north of the state line near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The story indicates about a dozen Harford County residents called the Harford County 911 Center after feeling the rumble, but there were certainly dozens more, like myself, who felt the quake, but, being unsure of what the hell they had experienced, never reported it.

For me, Friday’s earthquake was a Christmas gift a long-time coming – the undeniable verification/validation of a weird experience that had been written off by others.

Now if you’d please excuse me, after crossing ‘Survive An Earthquake’ off my to-do list, I can finally get back to looking for Bigfoot.


  1. vietnam vet says

    I never felt a thing. and don’t care too. was’nt over joyed about being in california about a month’ they have some big one’s out there.

  2. says

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there were many responses to the earthquake in the Harford County area.

    Looks like there were 30 responses from Jarrettsville, 23 from White Hall, 21 from Forest Hill, 19 from Pylesville, 18 from Street, 7 from Bel Air, 7 from Whiteford, 3 from Fallston, 3 from Baldwin, and one each from Kingsville, Conowingo and Havre de Grace.

    People living around Aberdeen probably thought it was just munitions testing at the Proving Ground.

  3. Dell says

    I lived through a wicked quake in the Phillipines in 1990. I remember waking up and the whole world was swaying back and forth. Stuff falling off shelves, the power went out…
    Baguio City got the worst of it, with building collapses and the like.
    Turned out that the quake was our warning that Mt Pinatubo was waking up. It would erupt big time in June of 1991.

  4. RichieC says

    Vet …some day California is a going to just break off and float away.

    Dell…if that one was big enough to knock buildings down I imagine it was big…a 3.3 is tiny and it was amplified by being in an apt building. That is end of the world scary kind of stuff. Nature can shake things up, (pardon the pun), when she wants to.