British Columbia

B.C. earthquake wakes up Vancouver, Victoria-area residents

B.C.'s South Coast was hit by an earthquake that shook many people from their sleep just before midnight, in what one seismologist called the largest quake in the region in years.

Quake, 4.3-4.8 in magnitude, centred 20 km north of Victoria at 11:39 p.m PT Tuesday but no damage reported

Earthquake shakes B.C. home

7 years ago
Duration 0:13
A home camera captures an earthquake that shook B.C. residents on Tuesday night.

B.C.'s South Coast was hit by an earthquake that shook many people from their sleep just before midnight, in what one seismologist called the largest quake in the region in years.

Some people near the epicentre northeast of Victoria reported their homes shifted, and others were knocked off their feet.

"The house moved seriously to the right, came back, it was loud. The aquarium had a mini-tsunami and overflowed. We were in the kitchen and got tossed into the counter," wrote one commenter on the CBC website.

Many reported feeling a large impact that felt like a truck hitting their homes, while others in Metro Vancouver reported windows rattling and items on walls shaking.

"I'm about 6 km from the epicentre and it felt like a truck had crashed into my house," wrote another commenter.

"I felt it in the West End here of Vancouver and I looked out my window to see if a truck had hit the side of my building! It was quite a sharp jolt that made my walls bend and creak, but nothing really shook or swayed," wrote another.

Other reported feeling a wave move through their homes from one end to the other.

"It felt like my house shook starting in one corner of the house and moved (slowly, it seemed) across to the other corner, like a ripple. Pretty wild, and bizarre while it's happening!"

'Pretty big shake'

There were varying reports about the magnitude of the quake that struck at 11:39 p.m. PT. Natural Resources Canada initially measured it at 4.3 magnitude, but later updated that to 4.7, while the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported 4.8. 

The quake was centred about 19 kilometres north-northeast of Victoria. The seismic activity was reportedly 42 kilometres deep.

The 4.3 ML earthquake struck about 20 kilometres northeast of Victoria at 11:39 PM PT. (The Canadian Press)

Earthquakes Canada says there have been no reports of significant damage, and "none would be expected."

But many residents did report that cracks appeared in floors, ceilings and walls of homes.

Natural Resources Canada seismologist John Cassidy, who lives in Victoria, said he felt "a pretty big shake" for about 10 seconds. 

"It's the largest earthquake in this region in many years," said Cassidy.

But he added: "Earthquakes are a lot more common around the world than we might think ... it's not really an unusual earthquake," with about 1,000 similar "light to moderate" quakes felt globally every month. 

He also said: "There is no pattern in this region for precursors to a larger earthquake, so this doesn't really tell us anything about when a larger earthquake may occur in the future.

"But it's very clearly is a good reminder of the seismicity in this region, that we live in a very active earthquake zone."

Given the depth of Tuesday's quake, he said it's unlikely there would be any aftershocks, but if there were any, they would be light. 

TransLink temporarily shut down the Millennium and Expo lines of the SkyTrain, but spokeswoman Anne Drennan said they, along with bus bridges, were reopened for one last run. 

TransLink temporarily shut down the Millenium and Expo lines of the SkyTrain as a precaution after Tuesday night's earthquake, but spokeswoman Anne Drennan said they, along with bus bridges, were reopened for one last run. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

BC Hydro said the earthquake hasn't impacted any transmission or distribution systems. 

California quakes reported earlier

Several hours earlier, a 4.4 magnitude quake struck near San Bernardino, Calif.

The USGS said aftershocks of magnitude 3.8 and 3.2 came minutes later, and dozens of tiny aftershocks followed over the next few hours.

Cassidy says it's unlikely the B.C. and California quakes were linked, as they're part of different fault lines. 

Reminder to be prepared

B.C. authorities and elected officials said although no significant damage had been reported in the province, the quake serves as a reminder to be prepared. 

Essentials for large-scale disasters include:

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press