Thunder? No, make that an earthquake in western Minnesota
A rare earthquake, albeit modest, rippled in and around Alexandria in western Minnesota early Friday.
The temblor at 2:20 a.m. measured 2.5 in magnitude, falling into the "weak" category, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Not surprisingly, there were no reports of damage or injury.
The quake probably "felt like a truck rumbling by or thunder," said USGS geophysicist John Bellini.
Bellini said the agency collected more than two dozen "felt reports" on its website from citizens in Alexandria and nearby communities such as Brandon, Carlos and Garfield.
While there is a margin of error in predicting any epicenter, the USGS put this one on the southwestern edge of Alexandria, near the town's airport.
"I felt it, oh, yeah," said Sandy Pederson, who lives on the north side of Alexandria and is an office staffer at KXRA Radio (1490 AM) in town.
"I happened to be in bed awake," Pederson said. "My first thought was that it was thunder. ... It shook the house."
When Pederson reported for work later in the morning at the radio station, callers to the studio were numerous and were reporting their experience from "quite a large area" around Alexandria, she said.
Douglas County Sheriff's Sgt. Tom Egan said emergency dispatch fielded 25 to 30 calls from the public. Some reported noise and minor movement, including the slight bounce of ceiling tiles.
Earthquakes centered in Minnesota are "very uncommon," Bellini said. Most since the state joined the union have come in the western part of Minnesota.
According to a list of earthquakes maintained by the University of Minnesota, Morris, the last previous earthquake in the state was in 1994. It was located in Yellow Medicine County and measured 3.1.
The most recent quake in the Twin Cities area, according to the Morris list, occurred Apr. 24, 1981. It measured 3.6 and was centered in Cottage Grove.
The largest "instrumentally located" quake in Minnesota, the USGS says, struck on July 9, 1975. That 4.6 temblor caused minor damage to walls and foundations of basements in Stevens County around Morris. It was also felt in Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482