VANCOUVER — Some thought a car had rammed their home. Others thought it was someone pounding on the door or the neighbours moving furniture.
It wasn't until the shaking stopped several seconds later that it became obvious British Columbia's south coast had been hit by an earthquake.
It struck at 11:39 p.m. local time Tuesday, about 20 kilometres north of Victoria, and was felt across much of southern B.C. There was no reported damage or injuries and it did not spawn a tsunami.
Natural Resources Canada said the quake measured 4.3 while the U.S. Geological Survey placed the magnitude at 4.8. — levels the Canadian agency said would not be expected to cause any problems.
The City of Vancouver confirmed no known reports of damage and BC Hydro reported the quake had no impact on its electrical transmission and distribution systems.
Two of Metro Vancouver's elevated rapid transit lines were shut down briefly while the guideways were checked, but TransLink said the system was back in operation within 90 minutes.
Geophysicist John Cassidy with the Sidney, B.C.-based Geological Survey of Canada noted the quake was between 50 and 60 kilometres below the southeast coast of Vancouver Island.
"Even people who live very close to the epicentre of the earthquake will be 50 or 60 kilometres away from where the shaking originated. So that makes the shaking not as strong as if it had been right up at the surface or very close to the surface. These deep earthquakes tend to have very few or, most often, no aftershocks," said Cassidy.
Still, people took to social media in the aftermath to share their experience.
While some tweeted that it felt like their whole house shook, others said they thought someone was just shaking their sofa. One person poked a little fun at the situation posting a picture of a single, toppled plastic chair over the words "we will rebuild."
Cassidy said scientists would be more certain of the estimated magnitude, once they analyze the quake's wave forms and data.
"It was felt by thousands of people across British Columbia to distances of about 200 kilometres," he said. "It's the largest in the area since back in 2001 and that was a 6.8 earthquake near Seattle and Tacoma. So it was the same type of earthquake that hit Seattle but it was about 100 times smaller."
This quake followed another, unrelated quake several hours earlier near San Bernadino, Calif., that measured 4.4.
The USGS said aftershocks of magnitude 3.8 and 3.2 came minutes later and dozens of tiny aftershocks followed in California over the next few hours.
— With files from The Associated Press
The Canadian Press