"I thought it was a storm hitting."
Those were the two most frequent reactions as residents from Viola and Salem, to Ash Flat, to Melbourne felt a strong central Arkansas earthquake on Sunday night, Feb. 27.
There were actually three earthquakes in Faulkner County, which has recorded more than 800 tremors since September 2010.
About 11 p.m. on Feb. 27, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake took place in Greenbrier. That quake, the strongest yet, was felt all over Arkansas and even in surrounding states.
A Viola resident said she first felt what she thought was a blast of wind, then realized her bed was shaking. Her dog was startled and alarmed by the event.
An Ash Flat resident reported the same "shaking" experience in her house, and later found some flower pots on her back porch had been toppled by the tremor.
A short time later, the Viola resident felt what she thought was an aftershock. That tremor was a second earthquake, 3.8 in strength, also centered in the Greenbrier area.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a third earthquake was recorded near Guy, another Faulkner County town at 2:46 a.m., Feb. 28.
A 3.2 quake took place at 7:06 a.m. in the same area.
Despite all of the activity, no damage or injuries were reported.
An Izard County resident, who knew storm warnings were out Sunday night, also thought wind was responsible when her home began shaking and her front door was rattling.
She quickly realized she must have felt an earthquake, when she determined the wind was not blowing strongly. The shaking of her house caused her daughter's crib to roll several inches from the wall where it was located.
While the earthquake activity is a novelty in our area, it is old news in the Greenbrier and Guy areas of Faulkner County.
As many as two dozen tremors a day are being felt, causing residents of the county to fear a major earthquake is possible.
Geologists call the events an "earthquake swarm." More monitors have been installed in the quake area and researchers nationwide are paying close attention to the activity in Greenbrier and Guy, which are about 35 miles from Little Rock.
Many residents blame natural gas exploration in their area for the earthquakes. To reach natural gas pockets, water is injected at high pressure, deep into the ground, to create fractures that allow gas to escape.
So far, experts have been reluctant to blame the quakes on gas exploration, saying earthquake swarms are natural occurrences that often flare up, then stop.