The Biggest Earthquake In The History Of Ohio That Shut Down The State

Ohio is not a state that is known for its seismic activity, but it has experienced more than 200 earthquakes since 1776. Most of these events were minor and did not cause any damage or injuries. However, there was one earthquake that shook the state so hard that it shut down the power grid, disrupted transportation, and damaged buildings. This was the biggest earthquake in the history of Ohio, and it happened on January 31, 1986.

The 1986 Earthquake

The 1986 earthquake occurred at 11:47 a.m. local time, with an epicenter near Perry, Ohio, about 40 miles northeast of Cleveland. The quake had a magnitude of 5.0 on the Richter scale, making it the strongest recorded earthquake in Ohio since 1937. The quake was felt across the state and in parts of neighboring states, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

The earthquake caused widespread power outages, affecting more than a million customers in northern Ohio. The outage lasted for several hours and affected homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and government offices. The quake also disrupted communication systems, such as phone lines, radio stations, and television broadcasts.

Some roads and bridges were closed due to cracks and debris, and some trains were delayed or canceled. The quake also triggered false alarms at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant, which was shut down for inspection.

The earthquake damaged many buildings, especially older ones, in the affected area. Some of the most notable damage occurred in Cleveland, where the Terminal Tower, the city’s tallest building, suffered cracks in its facade and windows. The Cleveland City Hall also sustained damage, as well as several churches, schools, and historic landmarks. The quake also caused minor injuries to some people, mostly from falling objects or panic.

The Aftermath and Lessons Learned

The 1986 earthquake was a rare and unexpected event that caught many people off guard. It exposed the vulnerability of Ohio’s infrastructure and preparedness to natural disasters. The quake also raised awareness and interest in the state’s seismic history and potential.

After the quake, many studies were conducted to assess the seismic risk and hazard in Ohio and the surrounding region. The quake also prompted some changes and improvements in the state’s emergency response and management systems.

The 1986 earthquake was the biggest earthquake in the history of Ohio, but it was not the last. Since then, the state has experienced several smaller quakes, mostly in the eastern and northeastern parts of the state. The most recent one was a 3.6 magnitude quake near Madison, Ohio, on June 10, 2019.

Although these quakes have not caused significant damage or injuries, they serve as reminders that Ohio is not immune to earthquakes, and that people should be prepared for the possibility of a bigger one in the future.


Ohio is a state that has a long and varied seismic history, dating back to the 18th century. The state has experienced more than 200 earthquakes, ranging from minor tremors to major shocks. The biggest earthquake in the history of Ohio occurred on January 31, 1986, and it had a magnitude of 5.0. The quake shut down the state’s power grid, disrupted transportation and communication, and damaged buildings.

The quake also raised awareness and interest in the state’s seismic activity and risk, and prompted some changes and improvements in the state’s emergency preparedness and response. Ohio is not a high-risk seismic zone, but it is not a zero-risk one either. Therefore, people should be aware of the possibility of earthquakes, and take measures to protect themselves and their property from potential damage and harm.

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