Nevada Earthquake: Las Vegas-Reno highway damaged after 6.5 quake shakes state, largest in 66 years

Tremors were also felt in California and Utah and the USGS warned that the area will continue to experience aftershocks


                            Nevada Earthquake: Las Vegas-Reno highway damaged after 6.5 quake shakes state, largest in 66 years
(Nevada Highway Patrol)

A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck western Nevada early morning on May 15, the largest to hit the US state since 1954. Tremors were also felt in California and Utah, authorities said. The main highway between Las Vegas and Reno was damaged and closed after the earthquake.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake struck on May 15 with the epicenter at a depth of 7.6 km — 56 km west of Tonopah town and east of Sierra Nevada. While the USGS first recorded the earthquake as 6.4, it was later raised to a 6.5 magnitude. There were numerous aftershocks including at least one above magnitude 5. "As the third most seismic state in the nation, we kind of had a streak of not having big earthquakes for 66 years," Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno, told CNN.

The vast open range east of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada is seismically active, said Kent. He ranked Friday’s event with twin December 1954 earthquakes at Fairview Peak and Dixie Valley. Kent said those temblors were of magnitudes 7.1 and 6.8, respectively. The USGS warned that the area will continue to experience more earthquakes than usual. "When there are more earthquakes, the chance of a large earthquake is greater which means that the chance of damage is greater," said the USGS in an aftershock forecast.

There were no immediate reports of injury, but state troopers and sheriff's deputies from Esmeralda, Mineral and Nye counties checked highways for possible damage. Highway 95 was hard-hit with the Nevada Highway Patrol releasing an image showing a deep chasm in the road, which was closed for repairs. The highway between Las Vegas and Reno was closed after troopers found deep cracks, and crews worked to reopen the highway, which took 10 hours.

Residents of Reno, Las Vegas and Eastern Sierra took to social media to report tremors. One tweeted, "Weird stuff from planet Earth that won't make the news: The U.S. Geological Survey website is showing 183 earthquakes of Magnitude 2.5 or more in the past 24 hours near Tonopah, Nevada. That's 7.6 quakes an hour." Another wrote, "There was a fat earthquake this morning I thought someone was breaking in lmfaoooo," while one shared, "Only felt a tremor here in Fresno, but weird to see people say they felt this all the way in the bay or even LA area #earthquake."

One tweeted, "Just felt my first real earthquake and now I can cross that off my California checklist." Another wrote, "We don't live too far from last night's 6.5 earthquake epicenter so it was shaking my bed pretty hard and it was like being rocked, it had me smiling. Vivi ain't been in California many years and busts through the door like BOO WHAT THE F**K IS THAT DO YOU FEEL THAT?'"

Oddly, a few hours before the earthquake, singer-songwriter Simon Curtis tweeted, "I’m not trying to speak anything into existence or anything, but is anyone else in LA just bracing themselves for a big earthquake?"

If you have a news scoop or an interesting story for us, please reach out at (323) 421-7514