(WHNT) – North Alabama experienced its first earthquake of 2023 early Wednesday morning.

Here in the Tennessee Valley, earthquakes don’t occur every day but they are certainly not uncommon. The majority of the time, when an earthquake happens here, the magnitude is low and not felt. 

This was the case Wednesday morning when a 2.3 magnitude earthquake occurred around 6 a.m. in Winston County. The epicenter was located eight miles north of Double Springs and the depth was 4 miles.

North Alabama’s Strongest Earthquake:

This strong earthquake had a 4.6 magnitude and was detected 5 miles south of Valley Head. The epicenter was located near the DeSoto State Park but was felt across much of the southeast United States. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), approximately 17,000 individuals reported feeling the quake.

Minimal damage was reported near the Fort Payne and Valley Head communities. This limited damage included a sinkhole in one homeowner’s yard and cracked windows in some homes in DeKalb County.

North Alabama Past Earthquakes:

In northern Alabama, earthquakes are associated with the Southern Appalachian Seismic Zone while southern Alabama is impacted by the Bahamas Fracture Seismic Zone. Just to the northwest, there is the New Madrid Fault, which impacts portions of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

From 1935 to 1970, an earthquake’s magnitude was measured on the Richter scale, which was developed. The magnitude of an earthquake is determined by the amplitude of waves recorded on a seismograph. This method was replaced by the Moment Magnitude Scale, which shows the size of an earthquake source the same no matter where the shaking is felt.

The magnitude on the scale ranges from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. The earthquakes in Alabama range from below 2.5 to 5.4, keeping it in the minor earthquake category. In this category damage that is reported is generally minimal and it is able to be felt.

When looking at the statistics for northern Alabama the area has experienced 64 earthquakes; this is based on magnitude 2.3 earthquakes or higher. This range was chosen to account for the most recent earthquake we had.

While that range was chosen, anything below 2.5, although detectable, is harder to feel. Data was examined from 1950 to the present day, using information from the USGS.