A loud noise just before 10 p.m. Sunday, reportedly heard and felt in the Beebe, McRae and Antioch area, could have stemmed from a magnitude 2.0 earthquake around that time in Dyersburg, Tenn., according to Beebe Police Chief Wayne Belew. However, other officials were skeptical that that small of an earthquake would have been noticeable so far away.
The information about the earthquake, Belew said, came from the U.S. Geological Survey. Dyersburg is 181 miles from Searcy.
“From what I understand, it was felt in Antioch more than anywhere,” Belew said. “It rattled windows and everything else in Antioch. We did get a few people calling in wondering what it was. That’s something else, isn’t it? To be in Dyersburg and be heard here. I guess that [New Madrid fault] line runs close to Jonesboro if i remember right. I guess 2.0 we can feel that here.”
However, Belew said he had never heard in his 65 years of nearby towns experiencing effects from an out-of-state earthquake.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was the closest seismic activity to the area, occurring sometime between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
“If that is the time people were feeling it, I suppose it is possible,” the spokesperson said. “A 2.0 is not a high magnitude event. According to the depth of it, it was 10.9 kilometers, so that was a fairly shallow one. If you consider that Searcy is kind of like on the edge of the hills and more of the delta-type land that are going to go over a bit toward Memphis and all around the Crowley’s Ridge area, I suppose it may be possible that you may have felt it, but I doubt there would have been a boom.
“When there’s loud booms and shaking going on, my immediate thoughts are sonic booms from military jets.”
A spokesperson from public affairs at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville told The Daily Citizen on Monday morning he didn’t have any information on a loud noise in the area.
Billie Curtis, court clerk in McRae, said the city received several calls about the loud noise and was trying to figure out where it came from, but did not know at the time.
White County Sheriff Phillip Miller said dispatchers also received some calls about the noise and they were thinking they may have to track down anyone who may have been blowing beaver dams.
White County of Emergency Management Director Tamara Jenkins said she would find it very unlikely that county residents would feel a 2.0 earthquake from Tennessee. However, she said, “We used to get all kinds of calls from the top of the Joy Mountain area: ‘Did you hear that sonic boom?’ And nobody could ever answer us what that sonic boom was.”
She said several years ago, White County had “I think it was a 2.8 to 3.0 [earthquake] at Pine Mountain Road, which is just at the bottom of Joy Mountain. But it was during the natural gas exploration; I’m not saying that’s what caused it. I”m just saying it was during the time.
“We have had a few earthquakes here in White County.”
She said being on “the outer edges of the New Madrid fault,” White County would experience “moderate to light damage” if an earthquake up to magnitude 7.0 “hit in northeastern Arkansas.”
“There is a map that shows the areas that would be affected and to the extent they would be affected by different zones,” Jenkins said.