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Earthquake: Twitter Users Learned of Tremors Seconds Before Feeling Them

Earthquake NYC Office Evacuation - H 2011
Xinhua/Fan Xia/Newscom

East Coast residents read about the D.C. earthquake before feeling it themselves.

Unlike tornadoes and hurricanes, earthquakes are infamous because there is no warning before the natural disaster strikes. But in the modern-day Twitter age, people can read about an earthquake before feeling it themselves.

PHOTOS: Earthquake on East Coast: Scene from New York and D.C.

When a 5.9 earthquake hit near Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday, New York residents read about the quake on Twitter when, 30 seconds later, they felt the quake themselves. The earthquake was one of the largest recorded in the Washington, D.C. area.

STORY: Earthquake Sends Shocks From Washington DC to New York City; Industry Reacts

Businesses in both New York and Washinton, D.C. were evacuated, including the Pentagon and Capitol Building in Washington and City Hall in New York. Discovery headquarters in Silver Springs, Md., was also evacuated.

A comic strip posted by XKCD explained that the fiber signals that transfer tweets move much faster than the actual seismic waves. Therefore, New Yorkers could read about the earthquake before feeling their own buildings shake.

Several East Coast residents tweeted that they read about the quake before it hit their own homes.

STORY: Discovery Headquarters Evacuated After Earthquake

Allison Kilkenny wrote, “Weirdest moment: Seeing the people I'm following in DC tweet "earthquake" seconds before I felt it here in NYC.”

Likewise, Jesse Friedman wrote, ““I saw the tweets from DC about earthquake, then 15 seconds later felt it in NYC. Social media is faster than seismic waves!”

Frank van Puffelen tweeted, “I read about this earthquake on twitter before I felt the tremble. New tech beats old tech... again.”

Erik T. Wright  wrote, “Haha! I was able to read about the earthquake on Twitter right before I felt it! I love living in the future.”

STORY: East Coast Earthquake News Coverage Interrupts Programming

Charles Luzar wrote, “Think about this: I read about the earthquake on Twitter seconds before I felt it. Oh, times... how you've changed.”

Ryan Praski wrote, "Read about earthquake on twitter before I felt it in Boston.