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'It was a rumble:' Indian River County residents describe feeling 4.0 magnitude earthquake

'I was watching TV and then all of the sudden, I heard this like, thunder rumbling or roaring in the distance,' Ruth Carter says
Posted at 6:57 PM, Feb 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 20:45:14-05

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Residents on the Treasure Coast are reeling with surprise after the U.S. Geological Survey said a 4.0 magnitude earthquake hit off of Florida's coast in a rare occurrence.

"I couldn’t believe it," Keith Snyder, who was visiting Vero Beach, said. "It's kind of crazy, right?"

"Wow, I didn't even realize it was that," Vero Beach resident Hannah Bellis said. "I didn't feel anything, so I was surprised to see my friend text me about it."

The USGS said the earthquake happened about 100 east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean at around 10:48 p.m. Wednesday.

"That's weird!" Vero Beach resident Rashad said. "In the state of Florida, I never heard about no earthquake, so that's weird."

"We never felt it," Vero Beach resident Linda Hillman said.

Her husband agreed.

"Nothing," Steve Hillman said.

Keith Snyder who was visiting Vero Beach earthquake 02082024.png
Keith Snyder, who was visiting Vero Beach, explains his disbelief after hearing of the earthquake.

Many people in Indian River County told WPTV they didn't feel the quake, but according to the USGS, people from Palm Coast down through Stuart said they felt or heard the tremors. One of those is Vero Beach resident Ruth Carter.

"It was a rumble," Carter said. "Between 10:45 and eleven o'clock, I was watching TV and then all of the sudden, I heard this like, thunder rumbling or roaring in the distance."

To complicate things more, later that next morning around 1:30 a.m., Space X launched its Falcon 9 rocket, causing what USGS Seismologist Paul Earle believes was likely a sonic boom.

"It was really loud, yes," Carter said.

"It was a very strong, almost like an explosion," added Vero Beach resident Lisa French.

Vero Beach resident Ruth Carter earthquake 02082024
Vero Beach resident Ruth Carter says she heard the earthquake in the distance.

"That was out of the blue," added Rashad, who said he heard the boom too.

Earle said sonic booms, especially near Cape Canaveral, are relatively common for Florida, but said earthquakes definitely are not, since Florida is one of the most geographically stable areas in the country.

"An earthquake with this magnitude can happen just about anywhere in the U.S.," Earle said, "but earthquakes in Florida are uncommon."

"That’s not normal," said French. "I didn't even know you could get them here."

WATCH: USGS Seismologist talks about Florida earthquake

Paul Earle, seismologist with USGS, speaks to Kate Wentzel about Florida earthquake

While uncommon, they do happen in Florida.

According to the USGS website, there have been at least 22 earthquakes since 1992. Earle said with this latest, there could be more on the way, which would likely be minimal aftershocks only felt from the ocean.

"When you do have an earthquake, the chances of having another do go up," said Earle.

That wasn't comforting to the many residents who thought the hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding Florida experiences were the end of the state's major weather events.

Vero Beach resident Linda Hillman Steve Hillman earthquake 02082024
Vero Beach residents Linda Hillman and her husband Steve Hillman said they didn't feel anything.

"Now you have that to add to your resume," Snyder joked.

"It was a little scary," added Carter.

Earle said it's a good reminder to be prepared, but said there's no reason to be fearful.

Still, Carter said she hopes the state's tectonic plates stay in place, at least, for a while.

"It interrupted my sleep!" joked Carter.

Did you feel the quake? If so, you can report it to the USGS here.