5.4-magnitude quake in ocean off Alaska felt hundreds of miles away, seismologists say

A 5.4-magnitude earthquake shook the Pacific Ocean south of Homer, Alaska, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The 40-mile deep quake hit Cook Inlet 12 miles south of Anchor Point at 8:06 a.m. on Sunday, March 19, according to the USGS. There was no tsunami warning.

More than 1,000 people from as far away as Wasilla and Valdez reported feeling the tremor to the agency.

“Nothing like a little shake to start the morning,” read one Twitter post. “You know it’s a big one when it opens your kitchen cabinets. Dogs (and us) were a bit shaken up (no pun intended). Everything seems fine. No damage found.”

“Definitely shook my little cabin!” read another Twitter post.

Homer is a city of 5,500 people about 225 miles south of Anchorage.

Magnitude measures the energy released at the source of the earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey says. It replaces the old Richter scale.

Quakes between 2.5 and 5.4 magnitude are often felt but rarely cause much damage, according to Michigan Tech. Quakes below 2.5 magnitude are seldom felt by most people.

What to know about earthquakes

Earthquakes’ sudden, rapid shaking can cause fires, tsunamis, landslides or avalanches. They can happen anywhere, but they’re most common in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Puerto Rico and Washington, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

If an earthquake strikes, it’s best to protect yourself right away. Here are tips from experts:

  • If you’re in a car: Pull over and stop. Set your parking brake.

  • If you’re in bed: Turn face-down and cover your head with a pillow.

  • If you’re outdoors: Stay away from buildings. Don’t go inside.

  • If you’re inside: Stay and don’t run outdoors. Stay away from doorways.

The best way to protect yourself during an earthquake is to drop, cover and hold on, officials say.

“Wherever you are, drop down to your hands and knees and hold onto something sturdy,” officials say. “If you’re using a wheelchair or walker with a seat, make sure your wheels are locked and remain seated until the shaking stops.”

Be sure to cover your head and neck with your arms, and crawl under a sturdy table if possible. If no shelter is available, crawl to an interior wall away from windows.

Once under a table, officials say you should hold on with one hand and be ready to move with it.

“There can be serious hazards after an earthquake, such as damage to the building, leaking gas and water lines, or downed power lines,” officials say. “Expect aftershocks to follow the main shock of an earthquake. Be ready to Drop, Cover, and Hold On if you feel an aftershock.”

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