Vegas-Reno highway cracked, closed after 6.5 earthquake in Nevada

The main highway between Las Vegas and Reno was damaged and closed early Friday following a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in a remote area of Nevada that a researcher called the largest quake in the state in 65 years.

No injuries were reported, but Nevada Highway Patrol photos showed cracks on U.S. 95 that Trooper Hannah DeGoey said were caused by the temblor a little after 4 a.m. west of Tonopah.

Crews were working to reopen the highway, DeGoey said.

The area is an active seismic region, said Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at the University of Nevada, Reno. He compared the Friday event with twin December 1954 earthquakes at Fairview Peak and Dixie Valley. Kent said those temblors, occurring four minutes apart, were magnitudes 7.1 and 6.8. Other sources put their magnitudes at 7.3 and 6.9, respectively.

The U.S. Geological Service reported the temblor struck at 4:03 a.m. about 35 miles west of Tonopah and just east of the Sierra Nevada range. The quake was upgraded after being initially reported at 6.4-magnitude.

KSAZ nevada highway cracked1

(Nevada Highway Patrol)

The initial quake struck about 4.7 miles deep, the USGS said, and dozens of aftershocks were recorded in the next three hours, including two with estimated magnitudes of 4.9.

There were no immediate reports of injury, but state troopers and sheriff’s deputies from Esmeralda, Mineral, and Nye counties checked highways for possible damage.

People from Salt Lake City to California’s Central Valley tweeted that they felt it.

“It shook, but it wasn’t that much,” Nye County sheriff’s Capt. David Boruchowitz said in Pahrump. He reported no damage at the Mizpah Hotel and Clown Motel, two landmark businesses in Tonopah, a historic mining town about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno.

Keith Hasty, an employee at a gas station in Tonopah, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal groceries were shaken off shelves, and residents who frequented the store said televisions shook.


Associated Press writer Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this report.