NEW YORK -- Black Friday began on a shaky note in New Jersey, literally. Residents who weren't sleeping off their Thanksgiving over-indulgence at 12:13 a.m. instead might have felt a small earthquake that jiggled the southwestern part of the state, causing a flurry of excitement but no apparent damage or injuries.
By California standards, the 2.1 magnitude temblor was puny, but quakes are rare in this part of the country. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, "moderately damaging" quakes hit the corridor in which Friday's tremor occurred "roughly twice a century." Smaller ones are felt every two to three years, according to the USGS, which put the epicenter of Friday's quake near Clementon, N.J., about 31 miles southwest of the state capital, Trenton.
The South Jersey Times reported that residents of several towns around Camden County reported hearing a rumble and feeling their homes shake when the quake hit.
"Our first thought was earthquake or an explosion in another town, and we went outside to check the sky for lights or a fire," wrote one woman on a local online community page, Township-Talk.com. "Thought it was a big truck," wrote another.
Other comments ran the gamut from serious -- "Scary" -- to joking. "Are you sure it wasnt just a rush of people heading out for black friday shopping??" "Jersey = the new california ??"
The East Coast felt a moderate quake that was centered outside of Washington, D.C., in August 2011. That quake measured 5.8, caused extensive damage, and was felt hundreds of miles away, including apparently by the man who posted the following on Township-Talk:
"i'm 38 and never felt a quake in NJ after living my whole life here ... now two in two years?"
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