Utah earthquake shakes southwest Wyoming

A 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook parts of southwest Wyoming Wednesday morning, including as far north as Afton. The epicenter was in Magna, Utah, and damaged many buildings there and in Salt Lake City. (COURTESY IMAGE)

EVANSTON — People throughout Uinta County and Northern Utah started Wednesday morning off with some shaking as an earthquake struck near Magna, Utah, and was reportedly felt as far away as Afton and Big Piney. According to the U.S. Geological Survey the 5.7-magnitude quake struck at 7:09 a.m. and was followed by dozens of smaller aftershocks and at least two other separate quakes at 8:02 a.m. and 1:12 p.m., which registered as 4.4 and 4.6.

By 7 p.m. Wednesday, USGS had already recorded 41 smaller aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 2.5 to 3.9. Utahns were asked to shelter in place and be prepared for continued aftershocks.

While there have been no reports of damage in southwest Wyoming, tens of thousands were without power in the Salt Lake City area Wednesday morning, where the quake shut down some public transportation and phone lines, including the Utah Health Department COVID-19 hotline. The Salt Lake City International Airport sustained significant damage and had to be closed and evacuated. The quake also reportedly damaged the Salt Lake Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple, which has been undergoing major seismic renovations for several weeks, knocking the trumpet from the hands of the angel Moroni statue.

City of Evanston Public Works Director Gordon Robinson said city crews inspected critical infrastructure following the quake, including Sulphur Creek dam, the water and wastewater treatment plants, water storage tanks and pipelines, the underpass and other bridges, and found no obvious signs of damage. Robinson said there was no contamination of Evanston’s water supply.

Several folks shared their experience on the Herald’s Facebook page, with many saying they at first thought they were suffering from dizzy spells when the room they were in began to move. Others said they were in bed asleep when the quake woke them.

Utah Emergency Management said that they expect Wednesday morning’s 5.7 to have been the largest in the series, although stressed earthquakes cannot be predicted. The quake was the strongest to have hit Utah since 1992.

Although not often felt in Southwest Wyoming, emergency management experts recommend earthquake preparedness of keeping shoes and flashlights handy. In case of an earthquake, drop to hands and knees, cover head and neck with an arm or get under a sturdy table, and hold on until shaking stops. Stay away from windows, do not get in doorways and do not run outside while the ground is shaking.

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