Lawyers and other legal eagles take refuge in front of the county courthouse after the earth shook.
Painting foreman Nacho Velasquez had several men on ladders at the time of the quake.
1:52pm: Whoa! We just had a long tremor/earthquake? here on the Downtown Mall just seconds ago! Stay tuned for more.
2:10pm: According to the latest information, the epicenter was between Charlottesville and Richmond, but a lot more powerful than the the one we felt in 2003 that measured 4.5. Reports are coming in that it was felt in Virginia Beach, Washington D.C., North Carolina, New York, and as far north as Canada. The quake seems to have disrupted cell phone communications as well. State Captial and General Assembly buildings were evacuated.
"I thought the Pavilion where I live was going to collapse," reports UVA professor Larry Sabato, "seriously."
2:31pm update: The USGS measures it at 5.9 on the Richter Scale and puts the epicenter about 0.1 miles underground and about four miles southwest of the town of Mineral. Hook map.
2:59pm update: The nukes at North Anna have reportedly been shut down as a safety precaution. According to Virginia Tech, this quake slightly surpasses the 5.8 intensity of the previous modern-day record-holder in Virginia: a last-day-of-May 1897 chimney-breaker that was centered in Giles County.
3:08pm correction: We initially misread the data on the depth of the quake. The depth listed above now matches the USGS report.
3:13 update: The 911 emergency telephone lines are down, so anyone needing emergency assistance should dial the administrative line: 434-977-9041. Due to high call volume, many citizens have gotten "all circuits are busy" recordings, and officials such as Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner urge the public to please refrain from calling friends to gab about the quake.
3:25 update: USGS warns that the quake may be an foreshock and that "the worst may be yet to come."
3:33pm update: The USGS has downgraded the quake to a 5.8, a move that robs it of its unshared position as the most powerful quake in modern Virginia history. Meanwhile, the depth has been revised to 3.7 miles underground. The good news is that 911 lines are reportedly working again.
4:07pm update: City spokesperson Ric Barrick says that crews are checking out a reported gas line rupture on West Main Street.