A small earthquake measuring 1.3 on the Richter scale gently shook East Haddam last night, creating a booming sound heard throughout town and sending emergency personnel racing through the streets for more than two hours looking for the source of the noise.
By this morning, local residents and officials learned that the noise they heard, which sent many homeowners out into the cold night to look for signs of flames, was actually a small temblor.
In short, the town’s infamous “Moodus Noises” returned last night.
Officials at the Weston Observatory at Boston College in Massachusetts reported this morning that the earthquake happened at 8:42 p.m.
First Selectman Mark Walter said the 1.3 magnitude quake did no damage.
“Luckily 1.3 is not enough to do damage. It’s just enough to shake the ground,” he said.
The quake, he added, appears to have been centered near the Alger Road and East Haddam-Colchester Turnpike area. However, it was felt, and heard, by residents all over town, many of whom called 911 to report that they had heard an explosion.
Walter said he was sitting in the family room of his home with his wife and daughter when he felt the temblor and heard the accompanying booming noise.
“We all looked at each other and said ‘What the heck was that?’ ” It was a sensation, he said, “that kind of made you sick to your stomach.”
Moments later, he said, his pager went off with a warning that there had been a possible explosion in town. For the next two hours he and other emergency management officials scoured the town looking for what they thought was an explosion. They called off the fruitless search by 11 p.m.
The Moodus section of town has been plagued for centuries with small earthquakes, particularly near Cave Hill and Mount Tom, which can create strange booming noises. In fact, the Moodus region’s name comes from a name Native Americans gave the area and even early settlers reported hearing the “Moodus Noises.”
The sounds, however, haven’t been heard in some time, Walter said.
Craig Mansfield, the town’s emergency services director, posted the official earthquake readings on the town’s website today, along with a short note to residents.
“Thank you to all that reported hearing the bang and feeling the movement,” he wrote. “The ‘Moodus Noises’ are still going strong!”