5.7 magnitude earthquake in Utah knocks out power to thousands and diverts flights

Thousands of Salt Lake City residents lost power after their city was hit by a 5.7 earthquake, Utah's strongest tremor since 1992. CNN affiliate KUTV has more.

Posted: Mar 19, 2020 5:01 AM
Updated: Mar 19, 2020 5:01 AM

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook the Salt Lake City area Wednesday morning, cutting power to tens of thousands and suspending work at Utah's public health lab amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

Flights to Salt Lake International Airport were diverted, departures were postponed and terminals and concourses were evacuated so engineers could inspect the facilities, the airport said.

The quake was centered about 10 miles west of Salt Lake City, near the city of Magna, starting at 7:09 a.m. (9:09 a.m. ET), the US Geological Survey said.

People in downtown Salt Lake City left buildings and gathered outside after the quake, talking about the shaking, CNN affiliate KSL reported.

"It didn't feel like a small earthquake at all. I heard things in my kitchen falling," Michael McCarlie, who lives in an apartment at the City Creek Landing development in the capital, told KSL.

This is the state's most powerful quake since 1992, when a magnitude 5.9 temblor struck the St. George area, Utah's Division of Emergency Management said.

Operations at the state's public health laboratory were halted as the building was assessed for damage, the state Department of Health said.

The state's coronavirus hotline, which residents may call to request tests and seek information, was down after the quake, Gov. Gary Herbert said on Twitter -- though the health department said a temporary information line was available.

The Department of Health said its lab is being assessed for damage, and testing will resume when the building is "determined to be safe."

"There were no samples being tested at the time of the earthquake," the department said in a media advisory posted on Twitter. "Additionally, no samples or laboratory equipment were damaged during the earthquake."

Commercial labs in the state are working and still processing Covid-19 tests, the department said.

By the early afternoon there were about 10,000 customers without power, down from 73,000 immediately after the quake, Rocky Mountain Power reported.

"Please stay away from the downtown area while crews assess damage," Herbert said. "Unless you work in public safety, or are an essential employee, remain at home or telework."

The quake comes as Utah residents, like people across the world, are adjusting to changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic, including canceling schools and limiting mass gatherings.

"I know the last thing we need right now is an earthquake, but here we are, and it sounds like aftershocks are likely," Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said on Twitter.

At the city's iconic Mormon temple, the quake dislodged the trumpet of the angel statue atop its highest spire, video from KSL showed.

"The trumpet on the Angel Moroni statue fell off, and there is minor displacement of some of the temple's smaller spire stones," said Daniel Woodruff, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Aerial photos show the fallen trumpet appeared to have landed on the roof of the temple near the base of its spires.

School districts in the area have been offering grab-and-go lunch pickup programs during the coronavirus break, but some districts canceled those programs Wednesday because of the earthquake, CNN affiliate KTVX reported.

Airport reopens

The airport said Wednesday afternoon it was resuming operations after checking for damage.

"The airport has completed the security sweep and is preparing to allow passengers through. ... Flights will begin arriving and departing," the airport posted on Twitter.

A water line that was damaged in Concourse D has been repaired, the airport said.

The first flight left for Dallas just before 3 p.m., the airport said later.

Because fewer people are flying during the coronavirus pandemic, "evacuating the terminal buildings was easier" than it would have normally been, airport director Bill Wyatt told reporters.

The runways and taxiways were not damaged, Wyatt said. Some inbound planes were diverted to Denver or elsewhere, Wyatt said.

The airport said a road to the airport initially was closed after the quake, but eventually was reopened late Wednesday morning so passengers could be picked up.

The Utah Department of Transportation said it didn't appear that the roads it's responsible for were damaged, but workers were checking to make sure. Parts of Interstate 80 were temporarily closed so inspection crews could look at bridges, it said.

Several aftershocks were recorded within 20 minutes of the main quake, according to the USGS, and dozens were recorded later, including one with a 4.6 magnitude Wednesday afternoon.

Generally in Utah, earthquakes greater than magnitude 5 happen once every 10 years, and quakes greater than magnitude 6 happen once every 50 years, the USGS says.

That statement takes into account instrumentation records dating back to 1962 and historical records dating back to the 1850s, the USGS says.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
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Hi: 71° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 62°
Columbus
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Hi: 72° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 62°
Oxford
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57° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 57°
Starkville
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Hi: 71° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 62°
High pressure will dominate our weather forecast for our Tuesday. This means we will see some good weather for our Tuesday. However, some rain and thunderstorms will be in our weather forecast down the line with some more low pressure in our area.
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