Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy


Whoa, Was That an Earthquake?

A 4.8 magnitude tremor just surprised East Coasters.

A seismograph.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

East Coast residents from Philadelphia to Boston all just looked up and went, “Did you just feel that?”

Yes, they did: A 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck Central New Jersey Friday morning — not strong enough to cause severe damage in most cases, and smaller than the 5.8 magnitude quake that struck the Washington, D.C., area in 2011 and rippled up north. But this one was certainly strong enough to feel.

Earlier this year, a tiny, 1.7 magnitude quake hit in New York’s Astoria neighborhood, causing little to no destruction. (Reports of a transformer explosion due to the quake turned out to be unfounded.) Thomas Pratt, a research geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey, told The New York Times that actually, New York gets lots of tiny earthquakes each year. Earthquakes of this magnitude, however, are decidedly less common.

By contrast, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan on Wednesday, causing at least nine deaths and more than 1,000 reported injuries. The insurance damages are still being assessed but will no doubt reach into the billions. That quake also sent major shockwaves through the global computing chip supply chain, as the world’s largest chipmaker, TSMC, was forced to halt production and evacuate.

The immediate aftermath of the New Jersey quake produced no reports of severe damage, and New York Metro Weather reported that there was no tsunami risk anticipated. Airports in the region grounded flights to evaluate safety conditions. The event seemed mainly to have given Northeasterners an excuse to log into Twitter again for the first time in months.

For my part, sitting in my apartment in New York and trying to collect my bearings, the light fixture over the dining table suddenly looks askew. But to be honest, it’s probably been that way for a while.

Jillian Goodman profile image

Jillian Goodman

Jillian is Heatmap's deputy editor. Before that, she was opinion editor at The Information and deputy editor at Bloomberg Green.


We’re Worrying About Hurricanes Wrong

Don’t look at the number of forecasted storms and panic. But don’t get complacent, either.

Hurricane aftermath.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

When is an announcement less an announcement than a confirmation?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2024 hurricane season outlook, issued Thursday morning, might be one such case. For the past several weeks, hurricane agencies around the country have been warning of an extremely active, potentially historic season due to a confluence of factors including the record-warm water in the Atlantic Main Development Region and the likely start of a La Niña, which will make the wind conditions more favorable to Atlantic storm formation. With the Atlantic Hurricane Season set to start a week from Saturday, on June 1, NOAA has at last issued its own warning: There is an 85% chance of an above-average season, with eight to 13 hurricanes and four to seven of those expected to be “major” Category 3 or greater storms.

Keep reading...Show less

A Carbon Border Adjustment Is Gaining Bipartisan Ground

If you haven’t already, get to know the “border adjustment.”

The Capitol.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While climate policy has become increasingly partisan, there also exists a strange, improbably robust bipartisan coalition raising support for something like a carbon tax.

There are lots of different bills and approaches floating out there, but the most popular is the “border adjustment” tax, basically an emissions-based tariff, which, as a concept, is uniquely suited to resolve two brewing trade issues. One is the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which will force essentially everybody else to play by its carbon pricing system. Then there’s the fact that China powers its world-beating export machine with coal, plugged into an electrical grid that is far dirtier than America’s.

Keep reading...Show less

It Took More Than 4 Days to Put Out This Battery Fire

The California energy storage facility is just a short hop from the Mexican border.

Cal Fire trucks.
Heatmap Illustration/Screenshot/KUSI-TV

A fire at a battery storage site in San Diego County appears to have been extinguished after burning on and off for multiple days and nights.

“There is no visible smoke or active fire at the scene,” Cal Fire, the state fire protection agency, said in an update Monday morning.

Keep reading...Show less