According to the Television Bureau of Advertising, citing Nielsen numbers for special TV station earthquake news coverage, it wasn't only the Richter scale that was spiking Aug. 23.
TV stations in markets closest to the quake generated big ratings spikes.
On Aug. 23, the day of the unusual East Coast quake, stations in Washington showed the biggest percentage increase of audience for their specials over the previous-month average for the same time period with regular programming. Ratings were up a whopping 246% (from a 4.1 aggregate household rating to a 14.2).
Stations in Richmond, Va., which was only 40 miles or so from the quake's epicenter, were next with a 184% increase and boasted the largest average audience at a whopping 24.7 rating compared to an 8.7 for the previous month's time period average.
Baltimore came next with a 156% increase to an 18.7 average rating, followed by Norfolk, Va., with a 17.7, up 119%.
Norfolk will likely draw big numbers again this weekend as it braces for a hit from Irene.
FEMA officials have advised citizens to stay tuned to TV and radio for the latest info on Irene, and generally for news and safety information in times of emergency.