‘The floor was moving’: 6.5 earthquake strikes in Idaho, largest in the state since 1983

McCALL, Idaho — A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck near Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday night, jolting people across four states. No injuries or damage were immediately reported.

The temblor was centered 73 miles northeast of Meridian, a city on the outskirts of Boise, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It’s the most powerful earthquake to strike the Gem State since 1983, when the 6.9 magnitude Borah Peak earthquake killed two people and resulted in millions in damages, according to the Idaho Geological Survey.

“It felt like the whole house was shaking,” said Jim Tracy, 81, who was looking at model airplanes on his computer at a friend’s house in McCall. “It lasted so long I knew that it was a big one.”

There were immediate reports that the earthquake was felt in Coeur d’Alene, Twin Falls and Hailey in Idaho; Spokane, Washington; Missoula and Bozeman, Montana; and Salt Lake City in Utah.

Melissa Hawkins, who lives in northwest Boise with her family, said she heard a loud noise that sounded like a rumble.

“At first I thought it was thunder, weird thunder, but then the house was moving and I realized this is an earthquake — a really big earthquake,” said Hawkins, 44. “It felt like it was in Boise.”

The prolonged shaking, Hawkins said, brought back childhood memories of the Borah Peak quake, which also hit in a remote part of Idaho but was felt in the capital city. She remembers lights in the house swinging then, and saw that same phenomenon Tuesday.

“I was yelling at the kids to get in the doorways. They didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

Elisa Bullock said she and her husband were on their back deck in Boise trying to cut their dog’s nails when the ground began shaking.

“It’s probably the least-safe place in our house and we just stood there,” she said. “When it stopped, I looked at Brandt and yelled, ‘Get in a door jam.’ We will be implementing earthquake drills starting tomorrow.”

There were no initial reports of damage, the Boise Police Department said on Twitter, while acknowledging, “Yep we felt it too.”

“Stay safe out there Boise,” the tweet said. “Call us if you need us.”

Susie Baker, 53, a checker at Albertsons in McCall, a resort town about 100 miles north of Boise, said she didn’t initially feel the quake but noticed all the hanging aisle signs swinging in the store.

“Then I thought I heard a sound … and the floor was moving,” Baker said.

Another McCall resident, Linda Humpherys, 73, was stunned by the quake.

“You know how it feels when you are sitting on a plane and someone behind you starts kicking your seat? That’s what I was feeling, but I was on my bed,” she said. “Then the chandelier was shaking back and forth.”

A 4.8 magnitude aftershock, centered southwest of Challis, followed about an hour later, the USGS said on Twitter. Smaller aftershocks continued into the evening hours.

The Borah Peak earthquake is the largest ever recorded in Idaho — both in magnitude and property damage, according to the IGS. The towns of Challis and Mackay took the brunt, with 11 commercial buildings and 39 private homes suffering major damage.