Two earthquakes hit Meigs County near Watts Bar early Wednesday

4.4 magnitude earthquake rocks Meigs County near Watts Bar

Earthquake tile

UPDATE: The U.S. Geological Survey and TVA confirm that there were two earthquakes this morning near Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Meigs County.

TVA and USGS officials say a second magnitude 3.3 earthquake - an aftershock of the first one that shook Meigs County around 4:14 a.m. - struck a few minutes afterward and was a little nearer the nuclear plant.

The second quake was about 6.8 kilometers deep and was about a mile west of the first, officials report.

TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said this morning that the federal utilities' facilities up and down the Tennessee River reported no damage and officials are continuing to run through checklists to make sure nothing was overlooked.


ORIGINAL STORY: A magnitude 4.4 earthquake rocked Meigs County, Tennessee, early Wednesday less than 10 miles north of Decatur near Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.

The U.S. Geological Survey at the University of Memphis reports that the quake was about 9 kilometers beneath the earth's surface and was detected at 4:14 a.m. It was focused about half a mile south of State Route 68 near Moore Cemetery Road.

Meigs County Emergency Management Director Tony Finnell said there were no reports of damage but the county's 911 lines lit up as soon as it happened.

"We got a few calls because people woke up with noise and vibration," Finnell said this morning.

"I heard it at the house. I live down below town," he said, referring to the county seat of Decatur.

Finnell said the Emergency Operations Center also got calls from neighboring counties, but there were no reports of damage elsewhere either at this point.

But people were rattled by it all over.

"It was pretty widespread," Finnell said of reports from people who felt the trembler.

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant didn't issue any alerts, he said.

"Unless something else crops up or we have a sinkhole open up, I think we're good," Finnell said.

A magnitude 4.4 quake falls within category IV-V on the Mercalli Intensity Scale which covers a range of magnitudes between 4.0 and 4.9. That means it was likely felt indoors by many, outdoors by a few. Some people might have been awakened, and dishes, windows and doors can be disturbed. Automobiles can be rocked noticeably and cracking sounds might be heard inside of walls, according to information on USGS website.

At worst, people might feel a sensation like a heavy truck striking the building they're in and some damage can occur like broken windows and overturned objects.