Earthquake shuts down transportation in Salt Lake City area

Seismograph image.

A magnitude-5.7 earthquake shook the Salt Lake City area around 7 a.m. MST today. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), it was centered almost four miles northeast of Magna, Utah, which is 11 miles west of downtown Salt Lake City.

The USGS confirmed that the quake has caused power outages in Salt Lake City, and was the state’s strongest quake since 1992.

Rocky Mountain Power and reported that 55,000 customers lost electricity at one point, which was down to around 40,000 as of 10 a.m. MST.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported “damage to the Salt Lake City International Airport, which has shut down temporarily, as well as downtown buildings and the Salt Lake Temple, where the Angel Moroni statue has lost its trumpet.”

All trains on the Salt Lake Valley’s light rail system, TRAX, also came to a halt and pulled into the nearest station, according to the state’s transit authority.

SONAR Critical Events: Wednesday, March 17, 2020; Utah earthquake

So far, there have been no reports of serious injuries. A series of aftershocks has followed the quake. These tremors have measured from 2.5 to 3.9 on the Richter scale. Keith Koper, director of the University of Utah’s Seismograph Stations, told the Salt Lake Tribune that “hundreds of aftershocks” are likely in the coming days.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert advised residents to stay out of the downtown area for the time being while crews assess the damage.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) posted a message on its website saying crews are inspecting roads for any potential earthquake damage. So far there appears to be none, but UDOT is checking everything out, specifically bridges.

According to NBC News, the Salt Lake City School District said this morning that due to the earthquake it cannot provide meals, food boxes and computers it has been supplying to families while schools are shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhal pointed out that the quake’s timing was especially bad in light of disruptions already caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know the last thing we need right now is an earthquake, but here we are,” she tweeted. “The City is assessing the situation now and I’ll circle back with an update when I have it. Be safe.”