By Shelby Horton
At 1:40 a.m. on Nov. 18, an earthquake made Hutchinson Community College tremble. Students in the residence halls awoke to their beds rocking, and feeling a like their rooms were swaying side to side.
“I was sleeping when it started and I woke up because my entire bed was shaking,” said Mariana Parsons, Hutchinson. “I was really scared. I had never felt an earthquake before.”
The quake was centered about eight miles southwest of Cherokee, Oklahoma. Measuring at a 4.7 on the Richter scale, two aftershocks followed hours later, measuring at a 3.1 and 3.7.
“I believe that area is somewhat geologically more active than what people take it for,” said Brain Bird, physical science instructor at HCC. “Some people think this is due to the oil mining taking place. However, I think it only agitated it a little bit and this is more due to the geological structure of the area.”
The earthquake was reported to be felt in many cities, such as Wichita, Salina, Kansas City, and Newton. According to the National Weather Service in Dodge City, there were so many birds that took flight after the earthquake, they could be seen on radar.
The earthquake shook in nine states, including Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska, Arizona, Oklahoma, Illinois and Colorado.
The farthest away people reported feeling the earthquake was in Tucson, Arizona, which is 1,231 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter.
Several students living in the HCC dormitories believed, when the earthquake was first starting, that it was other students playing pranks outside their rooms.
“At first I thought it was someone running through the halls, or banging on my door really hard,” said Kevin Nolde, Hutchinson. “Then I noticed my desk starting to shake where I was doing my homework. This was my first earthquake I’ve experience. I was more surprised then scared.”
Although the earthquake has caused some concerns among students on campus — and news reports say this may be the strongest earthquake to strike southern Kansas this year — there is nothing to be concerned about, Bird said.
“I don’t see it as a being a major earthquake. There is a huge difference between a 4.7 and 6.7,” he said.
“I don’t think, in our lifetimes, earthquakes will ever become more than an inconvience.”