BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Many Western New Yorkers were shaken from their sleep by an earthquake that hit the region around 6:15 a.m. Monday.
The quake centered in West Seneca registered as magnitude 3.8, according to preliminary info from the United States Geological Survey. That qualified it as one of the strongest earthquakes on record in Western New York, though it’s not considered a major earthquake on a worldwide scale.
What are the largest earthquakes in Western New York history? Here’s a list that dates back to the 1850s, compiled from USGS data.
There was one not even 25 years ago this month in Bath, NY, according to the USGS. Around 8:15 in the evening on February 3, 2001, a 3.2 magnitude quake hit Steuben County about four miles west of Bath.
Other than that, the Southern Tier has remained quiet. According to the USGS data, the next closest earthquakes were a 3.6 magnitude quake in 1994 and a 2.5 magnitude one in 199, both in Livingston County.
In Northern Pa., the only spot on the map was a 2018 mining explosion just below Tioga County that registered as 2.6 a magnitude.
Quakes are divided into two categories: Those that were centered in Western New York, and those with an epicenter in surrounding areas that were felt locally. Keep in mind that most of these are minor earthquakes — anything under M 2.5 is likely too small to be felt by humans.
Largest earthquakes to hit the Buffalo area
1. Magnitude 4.7 – August 12, 1927 near Corfu
This earthquake hit 5 miles south of Corfu in Genesee County, according to the USGS. This is near the area where Six Flags Darien Lake currently resides. Even the largest local earthquake is still considered a light earthquake, with over 1,500 this size estimated to happen on Earth every year.
2. Magnitude 4.3 – October 23, 1857 in Niagara County
This is the oldest local quake on record with the USGS, but not much info exists online.
3. Magnitude 4.3 – January 1, 1966 near Attica
4. Magnitude 4.1 – June 13, 1967 near Attica
5. Magnitude 3.8 – February 6, 2023 near West Seneca
The 2023 Buffalo earthquake is the fifth-largest on record to be centered over Western New York, per the USGS. They estimate there are over 10,000 earthquakes this size each year around the world. This quake was not among the five largest earthquakes to hit the continental US in the past month, though the others happened out West.
6. Magnitude 3.0 – May 25, 1995 near Amherst/Town of Tonawanda
Residents reported feeling the ground shake from the 1995 earthquake.
7. Magnitude 2.9 – June 5, 2009 near Attica
8. Magnitude 2.7 – March 8, 2008 near Clarence
T9. Magnitude 2.6 – March 15, 2022 near Warsaw
This minor quake from last year was just large enough to be felt by humans.
T9. Magnitude 2.6 – December 13, 2007 near Warsaw
Other notable nearby earthquakes
• Magnitude 5.0 – June 23, 2010 near Ottawa, Ontario
This earthquake was felt in Buffalo and described at the time as the second largest experienced in this region in the last 22 years. “I felt the things on my wall chattering and you could see everything shaking and swaying,” a community planner for the city told The Buffalo News. “The building kind of swayed a bit.”
• Magnitude 4.5 – July 6, 1873 near Welland, Ontario
The July 1873 earthquake earned a front-page note in the New York Times reading “Earthquake in Buffalo,” though the quake was later pinpointed closer to Welland, Ontario.
• Magnitude 3.6 – March 12, 1994 near Cuylerville in Livingston County
• Magnitude 3.4 – July 23, 1987 under Lake Ontario near Long Branch, Ontario
• Magnitude 3.3 – August 5, 1989 under Lake Ontario near Vineland, Ontario
• Magnitude 3.2 – February 3, 2001 near Bath in Steuben County
• Magnitude 3.1 – October 4, 1983 near Burlington, Ontario
• Magnitude 2.9 – June 16, 2004 under Lake Erie near Angola on the Lake
• Magnitude 2.8 – March 28, 2005 under Lake Ontario near Virgil, Ontario
• Magnitude 2.7 – December 21, 2009 under Lake Ontario near Olcott