Thursday, January 31, 2002
Craig If residents of Northwest Colorado thought they felt the earth shake Thursday morning, they weren't dreaming.
An earthquake of magnitude 4.3 was reported 20 miles southwest of Craig near Hamilton, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden.
John Bellini, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said people reported feeling the quake as far south as Grand Junction. The earthquake hit at 11:17 a.m.
"The area gets small earthquakes from time to time," he said. "But I wouldn't expect any damage from this one."
Craig Fire Chief Roy Mason said no damage was reported in Moffat County, but many people felt the tremor.
"I felt that first little tremble and thought it must be a sonic boom," said Yvonne Bacon, the postmaster in Hamilton, which was the closest community to the earthquake's epicenter. "I also thought something might have hit the building."
Bacon said nothing in the post office was damaged from the earthquake.
"It just shook things up pretty good," she said. "It didn't knock anything off of shelves."
Employees in the Clerk's Office at the Moffat County Courthouse said they felt the effects of the quake.
"Deann (Gonzales) said she thought she was having a dizzy spell, and Elaine (Sullivan) thought it was a bomb," said Lynne Costa.
"I thought it was an explosion in the boiler room. We're just glad it was an earthquake and not a bomb."
B.J. Stevens, manager of Baker Drive Pets, said the animals in the store didn't react to the quake but he did.
"The only one that noticed it was me," Stevens said. "I thought it was a passing truck."
Craig resident JoEllen Baca was doing some housework when the quake hit.
"I was taking some clothes out of the washer. I felt a big jolt and was thrown sideways," she said. "Then I saw the two cats fly across the room."
Craig resident Josh Driver said he was getting ready for work when the quake hit.
"I felt an enormous tremble and I walked in the other room and noticed stuff had fallen off of the wall," he said. "I felt dizzy and thought I was having an episode."
The earthquake broke the silence at the Moffat County Library.
"I was sitting here at the front desk and a book fell over," said Ginny Franks, circulation coordinator at the Moffat County Library. "It felt like something really powerful hit the south side of the building."
State Patrol Capt. Gary Torgerson said his office in Craig shook so hard he thought his computer was going to tip over.
"It felt more like a large explosion," Torgerson said of the quake, adding it lasted for about a second."
Steamboat Springs is not immune to earthquakes. The last tremor felt here hit Feb. 7, 2000, and registered a magnitude of 3.
Experts say a quake of magnitude 2.5 to 3 is the smallest generally felt by people. A quake can cause moderate damage at magnitude 4.
According to the U.S. Earthquake Information Center, another quake hit the Steamboat area with a magnitude of 2.5 and no one reported it.
The Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Associated Press contributed to this report.