to Signs Supplements Today's
Signs Supplement: Sonic or "Mystery" Booms
"At around 4:05 PM today, I was on the computer and the electric
power dipped way down. The lights dimmed and my computer crashed.
PRECISELY at that instant, there was a "sonic boom" that originated,
I perceived, from south of my location, here in northern New Jersey.
The boom lasted for about five seconds. The skies were clear blue
and the sun was very bright. Later, my friend who lives near Cleveland,
Ohio called me, told me she had no electricity, and that a man
called in to her local radio station and reported that he heard
two sonic booms shortly after 3 PM at the same time the whole
northeast United States lost power."
It's easy, for example, to discount all reports of non-grid-connected
car radios suddenly going out as the blackout began, by saying
that an EM pulse would also have taken out these cars' ignitions-which
event did not, as far as I know, occur. [...]
I have witness statements from several states about non-grid-connected
electronic devices that went out just before or as the blackout
began. I'm not about to throw them all out because "they don't
make sense." They do make sense. [...]
Time and time again, the same trick is used. Nullify reports
from the public. Make the public think it must be crazy.
"You didn't see that. You just think you did."
"If your report were true, then X,Y, and Z would have happened
too. And they didn't happen. Therefore, you're wrong." [...]
Q: Is there a correlation to the massive power blackouts on the
West Coast that have been happening recently, to the government
messing around with the HAARP Project, and other related weapons
A: Not HAARP.
Q: (T) OK, not HAARP. Something else that they're messing with?
(L) Well, why don't we just ask, what's the cause of the blackouts?
(T) OK, what's the cause of the blackouts? Good question!
A: 4th density bleed through has many "fun" possibilities.
Q: (L) Oh, fun! (T) 4th density Bleed through? This is part of
the bleed through from the different bases on the West Coast?
A: More or less.
Beginning in December 1977, offshore detonations
heard along the Atlantic Coast from Canada to South Carolina captured
the media's fancy. Newspapers and TV news programs all over the
country described these unidentified explosions. However, not a
word about the detonations appeared in most of the scientific publications
we regularly monitor, with the exception of the British New Scientist
and a recent article in Science , 199:1416, March 31, 1978.
Comment. The detonations were rather strong, shaking houses and
even causing picture windows to fall out. In some instances, flashes
of light and other luminous phenomena were reported. The sounds
were characterized as "air quakes" by some scientists because they
did not always register on seismographs, although they were usually
recorded on air-pressure monitoring equipment.
One's first inclination is to attribute such detonations to supersonic
aircraft and missles, but the U.S. military immediately denied they
were to blame. Seismic noises come to mind next, but the frequent
failure to register the events on seismographs suggested an atmospheric
phenomenon. The National Enquirer (January 24, 1978) rather predictably
linked the booms to UFOs. In the federal government, the Naval Research
Laboratory (NRL) was assigned the task of tracking down the booms.
In March, NRL reported that all of the 183 detonations they investigated
were due to supersonic aircraft. That seemed to end the matter --
just as the Condon Report signalled the demise of UFOs!!
The booms had an interesting side effect: they triggered urgent
requests for the two Strange Phenomena sourcebooks from several
universities, think-tanks, and intelligence agencies. There may
be more to this than meets the ear. For more information, see Walter
Sullivan's articles in the New York Times of January 13 and 19,
The cause of a sharp boom that rocked parts
of eastern Sussex County late last week remains a mystery.
A spokesman for the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in southern
Maryland said Wednesday that officials at the military base have
determined none of their aircraft was in the area when residents
reported a loud bang about 3:15 p.m. Friday.
Some speculated that what they heard was a sonic boom, the phenomenon
that occurs when aircraft travel faster than the speed of sound.
The speed of sound at sea level is approximately 758 miles an hour.
Patuxent spokesman John Romer said the air station received nearly
two dozen calls about the boom, most from eastern Delaware and parts
of Maryland. But officials couldn't pinpoint what caused the noise.
Romer said a sonic boom was caused earlier in the day by a training
aircraft over parts of the lower Maryland Eastern Shore.
Dover Air Force Base officials last week said none of its aircraft
was responsible for the boom. The C-5s based at Dover cannot travel
faster than the speed of sound.
Sound rumbled through the Victoria area Thursday
morning, but it was not due to an earthquake.
Several phone calls and e-mails came into the Pacific Geoscience
Centre after a cluster of rumbles were heard in this area about
"It is some kind of source of sound energy," said seismologist
It was definitely not an earthquake.
The sound appears to have originated somewhere to the west, but
the Geoscience Centre could not be more specific. These sorts of
sounds occur occasionally and can be caused by a variety of events
such as aircraft creating sonic booms, meteorites blasting into
the atmosphere, military gunnery practice, or blasting.
"At the moment it is a mystery and we do not often solve these
things," said Rogers.
This is the second sound mystery on the Island this month.
A blast that shook Nanaimo last Wednesday around 1 p.m., was heard
and felt as far south as Chemainus, and as far north as Nanoose.
It was not an earthquake, and military spokesmen said at the time
that there was no gunnery practice and there were no jets in the
area that would have been capable of creating a sonic boom.
AHMEDABAD: Panic gripped several areas in Ahmedabad
other parts of the state on Monday morning as a mysterious blast
was heard around 10.20 am.
Window panes and doors rattled while in certain areas multi-storeyed
apartments shuddered and people thronged to the streets in panic.
Rumours of Mumbai-like bomb blasts went around in Ahmedabad, a city
already on its edge because upcoming Navratris beginning on Thursday.
Frantic calls to hospitals and the police control room yielded no
explanation about the cause and the location of the blast.
There were however speculations that the blasts may have been triggered
off by tectonic movements, on the lines of similar blasts which
were heard in some parts of Jamnagar in western Gujarat last month.
The cause of a series of loud explosions is
still perplexing people.
Since breaking the story in last week’s Guardian the newsroom
has been inundated with reports of residents hearing the noise.
The Guardian reported a mysterious noise described as a "bang like
a firework but a thousand times louder" had been heard on September
20 at about 6pm.
But now we can reveal there has been a spate of bangs in the last
month some loud enough to shake windows and set car alarms off.
Neither the council nor the police have been able to shed any light
on the cause.
Spokesman for Croydon council’s environmental services said:
"We haven’t any idea what could be causing the noises. It
could be a series of very loud fireworks, perhaps the new type of
air bomb fireworks which cause quite a loud noise." The MET office
has confirmed that the explosions are not due to the weather, while
the Civil Aviation Authority has discounted the idea that the noise
could be due to an aeroplane’s sonic boom. [...]
The earthquake experts say it wasn't a shaker,
and military authorities say they didn't have the kind of planes
in the air that can make a sonic boom.
But whatever it was, the noise that rattled Lowcountry communities
about 1:30 p.m. Friday commanded a lot of attention.
"There was this extremely loud, percussive noise," said Reynolds
Pommering of Mount Pleasant. "My sister (on James Island) said she
heard it, too, and that's eight miles across as the crow flies.
I first thought somebody had run into the building." [...]
The mystery 'boom' that hit the Sunshine Coast
of Queensland on Thursday afternoon about 3.15 pm will remain a
mystery until reports of the incident can be analysed.
The QUAKES Earthquake Research Centre at The University of Queensland
has been inundated with reports of the incident but will require
more data to reach a conclusion about its origins. Possible origins
include an earthquake, a sonic boom, a quarry blast, or an unusual
incident such as the destruction or detonation of explosives.
Initial indications are that the disturbance was equivalent to
an earthquake of magnitude 2-3.5 on the Richter scale.
Few working seismographs remain in Queensland and none of those
operating picked up any sign of earthquake activity. However, the
closest monitoring station on Mt Nebo outside Brisbane may have
been too far away to register a relatively small earthquake.
Using the old-fashioned techniques of analysing public reports
of the incident, Col Lynam of QUAKES will produce a map of effects
that should give an indication of possible causes. [...]
It was the boom heard -- and felt -- around
From downtown Bradenton to the outskirts of Palmetto to Longboat
Key, folks heard a noontime noise that rocked their world. Literally.
But emergency officials couldn't account for the source of the
noise that shook Bradenton, Palmetto, and other parts of Manatee
County around noon Monday.
"I was sitting in my office, and it felt like somebody hit our
building," said Will Horner of Southern Supply, 606 19th Ave., Bradenton.
"The doors shook. The building shook. It was almost like an earthquake."
The workers next door emptied out, trying to figure out what happened,
Horner said. "The whole neighborhood was out."
Horner said his wife told him it "shook the house" at their home
in north Palmetto.
Courthouse employees who heard the noise dismissed it as thunder.
Diana Hughes, who works in the courthouse's basement, said she also
heard rumbling after the initial boom.
Dennis Carlson of Chicago was loading luggage into his car at the
Holiday Inn when he looked skyward. "Come to think of it, I thought
I heard thunder," Carlson said. "I thought we might get more rain."
Reports of the noise came from as far as Ellenton and Longboat
Key, even Sarasota, officials said.
Process of elimination has so far ruled out a sonic boom, gas explosion
or power plant incident, at least according to the official spokespeople.
Florida Power & Light Co. spokesman Mel Klein said nothing
happened at the Parrish power plant that could have caused the commotion.
Emergency officials and police and firefighters said there were
no calls or responses to explosions Monday. Air traffic controllers
said there were no aircraft overhead that could have broken the
Bruce Hall, air traffic manager at Sarasota-Bradenton International
Airport, said the sound did not come from anything Tampa International
Airport was tracking. "We don't know what it was," Hall said. "It
MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa said the noise was not caused by
its operations. "It's not coming from the base up here," said Sgt.
Chris Miller, a public affairs officer with the 6th Air Mobility
Wing at MacDill.
The base wasn't doing any flight exercises, he said. "The only
thing in our fleet that makes that noise is the fighter jet." [...]
COLUMBUS -- Neither City authorities nor Ft.
Benning officials could explain the loud 'boom' that shook the area
about 5:20 p.m. February 5, 2000. Many concerned callers directed
their inquiries to Ft. Benning officials and Columbus 911 searching
"We don't believe it was anything on Fort Benning," said Captain
John Hollar. "What a lot of people outside are saying is that it
was a sonic boom. But we had no planes in the area."
A 911 dispatcher said she had four calls since arriving to work
two hours after the incident." But they got a lot more earlier."
There have been no reports of injuries or explanations of what may
have caused the boom. The boom was also felt and heard in Alabama
and is similar to one heard on August 2, 1999, that included UFO
The usual suspect, the military have denied it was their aircraft.
Seismic earthquake activity was not detected, so a sonic boom is
most likely responsible. A full investigation was made of the 8/2/99
blast and was submitted to GEMA [...]
Hartsville, Tennessee, about 30 miles northeast
of Nashville, where mysterious, destructive power surge killed dozens
of birds and damaged transmitter, phone lines and computer equipment
at country music radio station WJKM (1090 AM) on Friday, July 6,
2001 at 10:45 a.m. CST.
WKRM Nashville TN carries a video news report establishing the fact
that the Franklin mystery boom registered as seismic activity at
1005hrs on July 7. The epicenter was pinpinted to four miles SE
of the community. In spite of this, authorities could not confirm
it was due to an earthquake, or even a underground cave collapse.
However, a sonic boom has definitely been ruled out. To view the
newscast click: News 2 - Franklin Boom Clue Uncovered. See also
a similar story of the TVA report from The Review Appeal & Brentwood
Journal of July 18 2001. G-fs.
Folks in Franklin felt a boom on July 7th. Now, there's a new clue
in the mystery. Was it an earthquake? Or an explosion? Or an underground
cave collapse? Whatever it was, it was strong enough to register
2.6 on the Richter scale. [...]
Pittsfield, Mass -- Something went boom Saturday,
and people in four states are wondering just what it was.
Some people also spotted something in the sky yesterday afternoon.
Calls to emergency officials in western Massachusetts described
a fireball, a sonic boom and an explosion. There were similar reports
in Vermont, New York and Connecticut.
The Federal Aviation Administration has ruled out a plane crash.
And the National Weather Service said it has no weather-related
One astronomer guesses a meteoroid was likely the cause for all
Several reports from last night, 2/2/99, at
about 7:30p.m. the town of Elk City, Oklahoma, (100 miles w. of
Oklahoma City) was rocked by a "Mystery Boom" similar to what has
been reported in other locations recently.
I contacted the local police and they reported multiple phone calls
from concerned citizens, all reporting windows being shaken and
a loud booming sound. I was monitoring the area military aircraft
bands at the time and I noted no unusual activities.
This report comes on the heals of last week's report of a sound
described as being similar to a "rocket taking off" heard over a
large area of western Oklahoma.
By coincidence, Elk City is 15 miles w. of the old SAC Air Force
base, which is under consideration as a possible launching facility
for NASA's new X-33 Space plane...
Another guessed he was hearing rolling thunder.
When a woman feared it was a bomb or an earthquake, she called the
police. But they had no answers, either. No one in the Massachusetts
Avenue Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington knows what is
going on at the house of their neighbor, the vice president of the
United States. But one thing is certain: They're tired of the daily
blasting at the Naval Observatory that has shaken houses, rattled
windows and knocked mirrors off the walls.
The blasts, which last three to five seconds apiece,
have been going off two or three times a day -- as early as 7 a.m.
and as late as 11 p.m. -- for nearly two months, residents say.
But neighbors have received so little information from government
officials about the top-secret project that speculation is running
wild. The leading theory: A security bunker is being built for Vice
President Cheney. The second most-popular guess: The government
is digging tunnels to spy on nearby embassies. In third place: A
helicopter hangar is under construction.
Was it a bird, a plane, a sonic boom?
Dozens of Hilton Head Islanders called the Emergency
Operations Center and Beaufort County Sheriff's Office on Friday
asking where "the earthquake" hit. The calls started at 10:03 a.m.,
after some roofs seemed to rattle and glass seemed to shake. Deputies
at the Sheriff's Office on Hilton Head felt it too.
"We were like, 'Oh my gosh, what was that?' " said
Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Debbie Szpanka. "The
whole roof shook. For us, it sounded like something landed on our
roof with a big thud." Others described it as the sound of a giant
fist hitting outside walls or a giant gust of wind that lasted only
a second or two. Outside, some looked around, trying to spot a wreck.
"What was that?"
No one seemed entirely sure Friday, but emergency
management workers knew what it wasn't. "All I can tell you is it
was not seismic in nature," said Steve Fields, deputy director of
Beaufort County Emergency Management. "Maybe Godzilla, I don't know,
but it wasn't seismic."
Plane Causes Sonic Boom, Rattles Four-County Area
A loud noise rattled windows and shook buildings in a four-county
area Saturday before last around 4:20 p.m. Authorities aren't sure
what caused the noise, but it was suggested it might have been an
aircraft sonic boom. The boom was heard and felt by persons throughout
Coffee, Moore, Franklin, Marion and Lincoln counties while many
were focusing their attention on the football game underway in Nashville
between the Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Scott Ulm, an employee
at the Tennessee Corrections Academy in Tullahoma, said several
employees heard the "boom" but exactly what caused it remains a
mystery. "It was probably a sonic boom," he said. "But you can't
tell for sure. All we heard is that there was a big blast."
Mysterious rumble shakes up Florida area residents
"It wasn't your typical sonic boom," said Woolford, an artist
for Blue Dolphin at Ellyson Field. "It just kept going and going,
about five or seven seconds. It shook the whole building. My pedestal
computer monitor was rocking and rolling back and forth." When he
felt the ground beneath his feet tremble, he thought it was an earthquake.
Residents from Century to Perdido Key and east to Milton flooded
emergency call centers in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties reporting
the boom that rattled doors and shook pictures off walls.
The source of the vibration remained a mystery after emergency
management and law enforcement officials ran into dead ends looking
into the cause. The strongest indication pointed to a sonic boom.
They ruled out a space shuttle flight over Northwest Florida. Military
officials at Eglin and Hurlburt Field said they had no bombing or
training missions that would have caused the rumble.
Officials with the Geological Survey of Alabama say seismic data
does not point to an earthquake. "I have nothing showing an earthquake
has occurred," said Dorothy Raymond, a geologist with the Survey
If the military is responsible for the boom, Catherine Olsen, who
ran outside to investigate what shook her home near Cordova Mall,
said, "they need to fess up. Everyone is so scared with everything
going on in the world." This is not the first time the area has
experienced a mysterious jolt. Similar unexplained tremors were
reported in 1990 and 1991.
GREECE - A loud sound shook houses
in town Sunday morning and sent some residents scurrying into the
street. However, area fire departments reported that there was nothing
wrong on the ground.
Several area residents in the Ridgewood Road and Benjamin Avenue
area said they heard a house-rocking sound about 10:47 a.m. Sunday.
Calls to two area firehouses turned up no known source of the noise;
no fire calls were received at North Greece fire stations No. 1
and No. 2. [...]
BOOMS ALONG THE BEACH
Mysteries, Marvels and Things That Go Boom at the Beach
J. Fisher via L. Farish
September 4, 1990.
Just because we don't report them don't think
that unexplained detonations are no longer heard along the world's
seacoasts. These "waterguns" are still booming away, as they have
for centuries. Take the Carolina beaches for example.
"Sunset Beach -- Just what is that noise that residents along the
coast have been hearing?
"Reverberations powerful enough to shake beach cottages are heard
several times every autumn along the coast in New Hanover and Brunswick
"'It moves the earth, I tell you,' Minnie Hunt of Sunset Beach
said. 'Sometimes you get two or three in a row.' [...]
"Residents who are now grandparents say their own grandparents remembered
the rumbles, so they predate the sonic booms of jets breaking the
sound barrier. .....
"The noises clearly emanate from the sea, she said...'It's not
a land phenomenon.' [...]
"The sounds occur most often in the fall and spring, though they
occasionally shiver across the beaches in other seasons. Sometimes
they shake the coast more than once a day. Sometimes they happen
a few days in a row. Sometimes they are weeks apart. They have been
reported as far north as Carteret County, but are most frequent
near Wilmington and southward."
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. For 30 seconds Tuesday
morning, Brevard County rumbled and roared just like it always does
during a space shuttle launch.
Only there was no launch Tuesday.
Then, 12 minutes later, it happened again.
What was it that caused windows to rattle and citizens to hear
what sounded like a sonic boom?
Nobody knows. Or they're not telling.
Either way, it's easier to say what it wasn't. It wasn't a supersonic
jet, the military said. It wasn't an explosion, the police said.
And it probably wasn't an earthquake, geologists said.
Don't laugh at that last one. Florida has had eight quakes in 115
years with one striking Brevard as recently as 1973, according to
the Florida Almanac.
One thing many north Brevardians knew, and it was this: They were
"It was unbelievable," said Norm Johnson, owner of Normano Pizza
in Port St. John. "I heard this rumbling and thought, 'This is it,'
when the whole house shook. It was really, really weird."
Residents inundated the switchboards of the Titusville Police Department
and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office with calls.
Some callers thought somebody was trying to break into their homes,
police spokespersons said.
"We've had all kinds of sonic booms and engine testing out at the
industrial center (in the past), but we've never had anything like
this," said Jay Cullen, Titusville police spokesman.
The noises and tremors, which occurred 9:36 a.m. and 9:48 a.m.,
both lasted about half a minute, witnesses said.
It was felt and heard most strongly around Titusville and north
Merritt Island, witnesses said.
But it also was felt as far south as Palm Bay, as far north as
Daytona Beach in Volusia County and in Orange County, according
to Brevard Emergency Management officials.
Some speculated the sound may have emanated from a fighter jet
breaking the sound barrier, but officials at Patrick Air Force Base
said they didn't know of any such activity.
"We've checked with everyone," Patrick spokeswoman Lila Edwards
said. "Nothing. We know of no flights, no tests, no drills, nothing.
Ditto for Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Station.
NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham heard and felt the noise himself.
"It was two distinct booms, one of which shook the building, with
a loud rumbling, almost like thunder," he said.
He said the lights in NASA buildings were swaying during an operations
conference, causing space officials to pause to ensure everything
was all right.
NASA then checked to see whether its operations somehow caused
the noise but didn't find anything, Buckingham said.
"We wish we knew," he said. "We were afraid at first that it was
something that would affect us. We called Patrick and they said
it was nothing they were doing."
Besides the eight earthquakes since 1881, Florida has experienced
32 sonic booms and explosions that caused similar rumbling during
that time, the Florida Almanac reports.
The most recent in Brevard occurred in October 1973 when Brevard
residents were shaken awake at 2:18 a.m.
Centered in St. Johns Valley, the earthquake also was felt in Indian
River, Orange, Polk, Osceola and Volusia counties.
Measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale, the quake didn't cause any
damage but jammed police phone lines with calls from concerned residents.
Geologists seemed to discount Tuesday's phantom visit as anything
related to a quake.
Douglas Smith, professor of geology at the University of Florida
in Gainsville, which possesses the sole seismograph in the state,
said the machine picked up two anomalies in the morning.
But Smith doubted it qualified as an earthquake.
"What people felt was something other than seismic, something generated
from above rather than below ground," he said. "We didn't think
it was anything seismic at all."
The National Earthquake Center in Colorado concurred.
With everyone at wit's end, a UFO investigator's guess may be as
good as anyone's.
Joe Jordan, a Port St. John resident who does research for the
Mutual UFO Network, said unexplained sonic booms have been reported
off and on since the late 1970s from New Jersey to Florida.
He and other UFO hunters label them "skyquakes." Due to the lack
of seismic activity, they think the sounds emanate from the sky.
The most recent "skyquake" over Florida occurred a year ago in
the Gulf Breeze region, which is notorious for UFO sightings, Jordan
The cause? Classified military operations, Jordon says. But local
military officials scoff at the notion. Of course they would, UFO
buffs said. That's why they're classified.
Joseph E. Cates
Graduate Aeronaut. Labs., California Inst. of Technol., Caltech
301-46, Pasadena, CA 91125
California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA 91125
Seismographs are sufficiently sensitive to detect ground motions
induced by atmospheric pressure waves, so seismic networks have
the potential to monitor sonic booms over large areas of the United
States. They are especially well suited for the analysis of long-range
sonic-boom propagation. Ground motion or displacement data provide
accurate arrival times and useful estimates of wave amplitude and
The instrumentation is most sensitive to the disturbance produced
by the arrival of sonic booms at the measuring station, thus serving
as sonic-boom event recorders, but seismographs have also detected
seismic waves remotely generated by anomalous coupling of sonic
boom into soil. Direct and indirect sonic booms from aircraft operations
are routinely detected by the Southern California Seismic Network
which consists of 250 seismic stations covering 50 000 sq km. Indirect
booms from space shuttle landings has been observed at ranges of
hundreds of kilometers from the flight path.
Data from the network identified "mystery booms'' heard in 1992--93
to be long-range indirect sonic booms from offshore operations.
Sonic booms generated by space shuttle reentry at Mach 20 and by
meteoritic entries into the atmosphere have been detected by seismic
networks in the Northwest and Canada.
[Original headline: Space debris ominous sign:
A barrage of mysterious burning space debris over the New South
Wales south coast was a sign of more danger to come, according to
a space junk expert.
A celestial sound and light show complete with flares, explosions
and a sonic boom lit skies across parts of south-east Australia
for two hours on Tuesday night.
Police said they received a substantial number of reports about
the strange lights and loud bangs, which were described as more
powerful than fireworks or thunder.
Scientists said the light show was caused by either a meteor or
space junk burning up as it entered the earth's atmosphere. No debris
Batemans Bay's Bay Post newspaper editor Chris Graham said he heard
what sounded like an explosion, and which he could only describe
as a sonic boom, triggered when an object breaks the sound barrier.
"I still haven't heard (another) credible explanation for it,"
he told AAP.
Australia Institute Director Clive Hamilton said the rapidly increasing
amount of space junk left in space made random and dangerous collisions
with earth increasingly likely.
"There are over a million pieces of space junk orbiting the earth,
and some of them are going to come crashing to earth sooner or later,"
he told AAP.
"There's certainly a lot of alarm about it in space circles. They
now have to put extra armour plating on satellites and space stations
and so on because of collisions with space junk.
"It's also alarming when you see these events which could be meteor
showers, could be space junk reentering the atmosphere, could be
the Mir Space Station.
"No one really knows, or at least they're not saying - we really
are kept in the dark when there's some particular threat."
The space show came a month before Russia begins its controlled
dumping of the troubled Mir Space Station over the Pacific Ocean,
off the east coast of Australia.
Experts have warned that plan could easily go wrong, after a 1979
deorbiting scattered the US Skylab over Western Australia instead
of the South Atlantic as planned.
Some scientists said the meteorite would have been the size of
a coffee cup, others said it was as big as a fridge, while another
said the earth may have passed through a comet's tail.
They disagreed about the possibility a series of grass fires around
Canberra and Batemans Bay were started by flying embers, a theory
played down but not ruled out by emergency services.
UFO Research Centre Director Diane Harrison said a burning ember
could easily start a fire in dry scrub, before burying itself in
sand so it could not be traced. • Originally published by
• NineMSN News / Australia - December 27 2000 [Original headline:
Speculation 'space junk' caused fire]
Unexplained reports of sonic booms, flying silver objects and flares
seen falling from the sky were made to emergency services throughout
the ACT and South Coast last night [December 26] .
"Space junk" sighted over Calwell was believed to have sparked
a grass fire beside the Monaro Highway, an ACT Fire Brigade spokesman
The fire, near the intersection with Isabella Drive, was quickly
contained by six fire-brigade units, but speculation about the cause
ran rife through the ACT emergency services.
"An eyewitness at the Calwell shops said she saw a piece of something
silver crashing into the ground," an ambulance spokesman said.
ACT police confirmed that a flare had been seen falling from the
sky near the Monaro Highway, and said they had received similar
reports of floating space junk from the South Coast.
Batemans Bay police were also fielding calls last night about sonic
booms, flares, and "big comets in the sky", but no damage was reported
and no objects were found, a spokesman said.
A total fire ban in the ACT had been extended until midnight tonight,
ACT Emergency Services said yesterday.
Householders have been warned that gas and electric barbecues may
be used but that wood, charcoal and spirit-burning appliances are
• Originally published by • The Canberra Times
/ Australia | By Stacey Lucas - December 27 2000
Story last updated at 7:35 a.m. Saturday, August 2, 2003
At around 7am on a Thursday morning in June
1991, people all over Southern California were awakened by a loud
boom. It was enough of a shock to make people call their local radio
stations to ask whether the noise had been caused by an earthquake;
but it had not.
The boom was unusual in that military pilots know booming urban
areas is bad for public relations. It was also unusual in that it
could be tracked and measured unlike any other way anywhere else
in the world. Waiting for signs of the next massive release of tension
in the San Andreas fault is a full-time job for United States Geological
Service (USGS) seismologists based at the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena. The CalTech seismologists monitor and record
every slight movement in the ground with an array of over 220 remote
seismographs from the southern coastline to the eastern Mojave Desert.
During the 1980s, the USGS found that their instruments would respond
when NASA space shuttles descended overhead on their supersonic
approach to Edwards AFB. They also realized that they could track
the shuttle's track and speed by comparing the time at which the
boom arrived at different points.
The USGS calculated that the June 1991 boom, and other booms tracked
between October 1991 and June 1992, were produced by something moving
between Mach 3 and Mach 4. The space shuttle flies much faster during
re-entry, but no shuttles were landing on those dates. The track
calculated ran northeast over Los Angeles, across the Mojave Desert
and towards somewhere between Death Valley and Las Vegas. Indications
of its destination was that of the Nellis Range, the largest area
of military testing and practise in the world.
The unidentified aircraft that boomed L.A. in 1991 and 1992 were
not heard from again beyond Nevada. They were most likely headed
for the top-secret Groom Lake installation. If they were headed
for Groom Lake, some 300 miles from Los Angeles, even at their record-breaking
speed they were already deccelerating.
The Los Angeles booms weren't an isolated incident. They were the
first corroborated evidence to support rumors, sightings and hearings
that had accumulated since the mid-1980s. The first reports were
heard in 1986, not long after a large section of land was sealed
off to observers on public land. Clearly, it was felt that the base's
security was inadequate.
In February 1988, the New York Times reported that the USAF was
working on a stealth reconnaissance aircraft capable of Mach 6.
Early in 1990, Aviation Week also made reference to such an aircraft,
reporting that witnesses had heard an incredibly loud aircraft departing
from Edwards AFB at night.
Considering the coincidental timing of the retirement of the SR-71
Blackbird in 1990, the newspaper and magazine reports of aircraft
characteristic of hypersonic propulsion, the expansion of the Groom
Lake facility and the Los Angeles booms, it isn't unreasonable to
assume that a secret hypersonic plane is operating from a secret
Nevada location, and now flying operations aroung the world.
Residents of Goolwa and Victor Harbour, south
of the state capital Adelaide, inundated police with reports of
a flash of blue light, smoke trails and two sonic booms. Bryan Boyle
of the Anglo-Australian space-watching telescope in the eastern
state of New South Wales told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that
the sightings suggested the object was a meteor which came within
19 miles of the ground.
1981 18 Oct
A bright fireball with sonic booms. This fireball fly from NE to
SW over western cost of Finland at 22.23 local time. It fade away
somewhere north from Kokkola. North from Kokkola sonic booms were
heard. I also saw this fireball. It was about -16 magnitude and
turn night into day. If something came down, it unfortunately landed
1976 15 Nov
A bright fireball with sonic booms. A astonishing bright fireball
light up the sky in eastern Finland at 23.15 local time. A sonic
boom which shook windows was also heard afterwards. This meteorite
was searched in Palosenmäki area but without any success.
A very bright fireball was observed in Savukoski, Lappland. Also
sonic booms were heard. There has been rumors and even search of
a crater this meteor produced. No crater has been found so far.
1803 21 Dec
The most probable observation of fall of the Åbo meteorite
. A fireball was seen traveling south from Vaasa towards Turku (=Åbo)
between 19.00 and 20.00 local time. Sonic booms have been heard.
From Turku this meteorite was visible as a bright ball on the sky.
It seems that it came straight toward Turku. It was observed also
in Oulu, which is 540 km NNE from Turku. See also June 1804 and
6 Aug 1820 cases.
FA18 Hornet was photographed breaking the sound barrier in 1999
The mystery of the twin booms that have startled
people from Chattanooga to Huntsville since June has been solved.
The culprits are new F/A-22 Raptor fighters and chase planes making
supersonic test flights over the region. So far 17 of the futuristic
jets have been built at Lockheed Martin's plant in Marietta, and
all must show they can break the sound barrier before being handed
over to the Air Force.
The only problem is that no one let folks in the flight path know
the sonic booms were coming. When residents asked the military about
the alarming noises, every branch denied having any planes in the
"Each boom sounds like an explosion," said Jess Hornsby, 61, of
Signal Mountain, Tenn., a Chattanooga suburb. He estimates he's
heard 10 in the last three months. "There's no rumbling like thunder.
It's a loud crack that really rattles the windows. People here have
been wondering what in the world was going on."
Hornsby, a self-described aviation buff, said he looked up the
first time he heard the booms and saw two white contrails streaking
overhead. Each F/A-22 is shadowed by an F-16 chase plane.
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) said the first time he heard the
twin booms, he thought a coal mine had exploded.
"I thought I was going to have a heart attack," Wamp said. "It
was such a high impact."
Greg Caires, a spokesman at the Marietta plant, said the planes
typically fly about 40,000 feet on a route that takes them from
Crossville, Tenn., to Scottsboro, Ala. The planes cover the 110-mile
route in about four minutes.
The flights follow an existing FAA-approved "supersonic corridor,"
so rules that prohibit breaking the sound barrier over the continental
United States don't apply.
Lockheed says it tries to minimize disruptions by avoiding Sunday
flights and keeping the planes high. Caires says security rules
prohibit the company from telling residents in advance when supersonic
flights will take place.
Caires and Randy Neville, an F/A-22 test pilot and University of
Tennessee grad, traveled to Chattanooga and Huntsville last week
to let residents know what the planes have been doing in the skies
overhead -- and to expect more booms in the future. Lockheed is
accelerating F/A-22 production and plans to build more than 300
of the fighters.
Once residents learned the planes were on their side, Caires said,
Lockheed got a warm reception.
"People are very supportive and think the supersonic flights are
really cool," Caires said. "I tell them to look to the southwest
next time they hear the booms -- but they better look fast, because
the planes won't be there long."
In 1934, Science printed several letters describing
and speculating about the socalled "Seneca Guns". (Lake Seneca is
one of New York State's Finger Lakes.) The locals and Indians of
bygone days have repeatedly testified about the eerie, unexpected
booms heard around the shores of Lake Seneca. It seems that the
phenomenon is not restricted to this Finger Lake, for a letter from
G. Kuchar describes a modern "bombardment" of "lake guns" heard
at Lake Cayuga about 15 miles east of Lake Seneca.
"In the early morning hours of August 8th, 1996 (maybe about 6:30
or 7:00 AM), I was awoken by what I thought were loud explosions
of thunder. It was a very loud, abrupt sound, sort of like close-by
thunderclaps except that they seemed somewhat distant and yet had
no reverberations or rumblings. I went to the window which faced
a large building across the way...The early morning appeared warm,
humid, and overcast. The explosive "thunderclaps" happened again,
a whole series of them, and they seemed to originate up in the air
and to my right, but I could detect no flashes of light, and the
blasts seemed to come at random points in the sky (which was not
very visible to me because of the big building looming across the
lawn). I couldn't figure out where the storm cloud was that was
producing these blasts, since everything was uniformly overcast,
and there was no darkness moving in or evident in my field of view.
From the sound of the blasts, which were very impressive, powerful
noises, I pictured in my mind's eye that huge cloud-to-ground bolts
of lightning must be erupting somewhere aloft and to the right and
out of sight of my position at the window. But they seemed too scattered
about, and then one boomed to the rear of my position, and that
was soon followed by a blast slightly to the left of that one and
way to the left of all the previous ones. Yet, there was no flash
of lightning and no dark mass of cloud moving from right to left.
You heard them.. then you called us to complain.
This week Lockheed-Martin is taking responsibility for the sonic
booms that have rocked the Tennessee Valley over the last few months.
But they aren't promising to stop them. [...]
Natural sound of Congressman at simulator..."We've made it through
here 'cause we're stealthy..."
IT ALMOST LITERALLY TOOK AN ACT OF CONGRESS TO PRY THE INFORMATION
FORM LOCKHEED MARTIN... CONGRESSMAN ZACH WAMP HAS HEARD THE BOOMS
Rep. Zach Wamp, (R) Chattanooga "I was out on Saturday afternoon
at Lookout Valley and a sonic boom happened it juist, my heart almost
LOCKHEED MARTIN'S EXPLANATION FOR THE RAPTOR'S BOOMING THROUGH
Rep. Zach Wamp, (R) Chattanooga "We just happen to b e here without
much going on in the airspace west of Chattanooga."
COMPANY OFFICIALS SAY THE F.A.A. MADE THAT DECISION... AND UNLESS
THE AIR FORCE RELAXES TESTING GUIDELINES, WE MAY HEAR 2, 3, OR 4
SONIC BOOMS A MONTH...POSSIBLY FOR YEARS. [...]
One man thought the noise was a sonic boom.
Another guessed he was hearing rolling thunder.
When a woman feared it was a bomb or an earthquake, she called
the police. But they had no answers, either.
No one in the Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood of Northwest
Washington knows what is going on at the house of their neighbor,
the vice president of the United States.
But one thing is certain: They're tired of the daily blasting at
the Naval Observatory that has shaken houses, rattled windows and
knocked mirrors off the walls.
"None of the neighbors object to any construction that is necessary
in the Navy's view," said Nancy Nord, a community activist who lives
on Observatory Circle. "What we do object to is that there is no
sense of the magnitude, no warning about something so intrusive
to our lives and no clear sense how long this is going to go or
when it's going to stop."
The blasts, which last three to five seconds apiece, have been
going off two or three times a day -- as early as 7 a.m. and as
late as 11 p.m. -- for nearly two months, residents say. But neighbors
have received so little information from government officials about
the top-secret project that speculation is running wild.
The leading theory: A security bunker is being built for Vice President
Cheney. The second most-popular guess: The government is digging
tunnels to spy on nearby embassies. In third place: A helicopter
hangar is under construction.
As the government roots out terrorists around the globe and gears
up for a possible military confrontation with Iraq, nothing is out
of the realm of possibility, neighbors say.
"After 9/11, when you hear a big blast for the first time, you
wonder what is going on," said Iza Warner, who had a mirror fall
off the wall of her home on Davis Street, a few blocks away from
the construction site. Warner called the police after guests at
a dinner party became frightened by the racket.
"One guest said, 'Oh, my God, what is going on -- an earthquake?'
" Warner recalled. "She said it sounded just awful. I called the
police, and they looked around but they couldn't tell us anything."
Thus far, the federal government's only response to the residents
has been a three-page letter that the observatory's superintendent,
David W. Gillard, sent to the advisory neighborhood commissioner,
Rosalyn P. Doggett, on Nov. 20.
The blasting could last eight more months, Gillard said in the
letter, but the Navy has attempted to limit noise by silencing backup
alerts on trucks and removing most diesel-powered electric generators
from the construction site.
He did not disclose the nature of the project, however. [...]
WATSEKA -- Watseka police are
looking for the origins of the big booms that have been heard
around town for a couple of weeks.
Police Chief Donny King said Monday at the Public Safety Committee
meeting that some loud booms happened late Sunday night and over
the weekend. Alderman Ron Price reported three in his neighborhood
in West Watseka Monday afternoon.
There were six booms Sunday and two Monday on the east side of
town, King said.
"Have you checked the absentee list at school?" asked Alderman
"That's an idea," King said.
Captain Roger Lebeck said he doesn't think the booms are firearms
but are probably fireworks. He opined they will probably find
out who the culprit is when someone turns up with fingers missing.
It's time to admit that my friend
and office-mate Jennifer Weaver and friend and radio host Steve
Miner are not the only people with unusual UFO experiences recently.
I haven't seen anything funny in the sky, but I sure have heard
some strange rumblings -- and I know it's for real because my
wife has heard them and even my dogs have been startled from their
napping a couple of times over the past few weeks by strange noises
from the sky.
Not long ago, another friend told me he saw the B-2 bomber flying
over Cedar Mountain. This guy is about to become a pilot and has
a set of eyes on him that an eagle would covet, so I don't doubt
The B-2, however, doesn't sound like some of the things that
have shaken my home and ears.
Whatever it is, it's flying very high -- out of my eyesight at
least -- and fast. And with the sound seemingly echoing around
the valley, it's difficult to pinpoint the spot in the sky where
this aircraft is flying.
Now just because we can't identify it doesn't mean there are
aliens patrolling the neighborhood, to be sure, although it would
be interesting to cover an extraterrestrial landing.
I have noticed that there have been a number of corkscrew contrails
flowing across the sky, indicating some sort of jet propulsion.
Normal jet engines do not produce that kind of pattern, at least
in my experience. Calling the U.S. Air Force would be futile,
especially since we are so close to Area 51 and Nellis Air Force
Base where the military does things we're not supposed to know
about. But if anybody else has heard or seen something strange
in the skies, let me know. I hate to sound like Art Bell, but
there is definitely something odd going on above us.
The Moore County 911 center
was flooded with calls early Sunday morning from residents who
reported hearing loud explosions.
Two sets of explosions were heard throughout the county in the
early morning hours. Similar reports poured into 911 centers in
Anson, Chatham and Orange counties as well.
In Moore County, calls started coming in from residents in the
Robbins area at 1:17 a.m. Residents reported hearing two loud
explosions, said Mike Cameron, supervisor of the Moore County
The calls died down but picked up again about 5:20 a.m. This
time, the calls came from Pinehurst and Aberdeen residents. Callers
reported hearing the same noise that people in the northern part
of the county heard a few hours earlier — two loud booms.
County dispatchers answered nearly 300 calls about the explosions.
Many callers reported the explosions set off burglar alarms, knocked
picture frames off the walls, and shattered windows.
"They heard stuff falling on the roof, "Cameron said. "People
asked if it was safe to go outside, if we were under attack."
Some people initially thought an exploding methamphetamine lab
could have been the source of the loud booms. Local law-enforcement
officers who were patrolling the area could not find any evidence
of an explosion.
"If there had been an explosion, we would have found evidence
of that," Cameron said.
The cause of the booms remains a mystery.
One possibility could be a sonic boom, which is caused when an
aircraft flies faster then the speed of sound.
Master Sgt. Bob Blauser, public affairs superintendent for Pope
Air Force Base, said the base has no planes that could produce
a sonic boom.
"Whatever it was, it wasn't a result of anything at Pope Air
Force Base," Blauser said.
Officials from Seymour Johnson and Shaw Air Force bases and Cherry
Point Marine Air Station said they had no aircraft capable of
creating a sonic boom flying in the area at those times.
Ben Nelson of Westmoore, an off-duty 911 dispatcher, was lying
on his couch talking on the phone with his girlfriend when he
heard and felt a thunderous boom followed by a smaller one.
"It shook my house and actually moved the couch several inches
off the wall," Nelson said.
He thought a plane had crashed in his yard. He ran upstairs to
check on his mother, who he said was already out of bed. Then
he ran outside to see if a plane had crashed.
He saw a commercial jet flying in the distance.
"It wasn't military," he said
Nelson, who was in the Air Force for four years and heard sonic
booms before, said this was not a sonic boom.
"A sonic boom is a low-pitched thump," he said. "This was more
concentrated. This was louder and sounded closer."
Because the sound was heard twice and four hours apart in surrounding
areas also leads him to believe the sound was not a sonic boom.
"I've sat and thought about it, thought about it, talked about
it with work people and friends," he said. "I don't know what
it was…. But somebody knows something."
Buildings shook, windows rattled
and terrified residents thought their homes were crashing around
them - but nobody has any idea what caused a mysterious explosion
that shook Sydney's north and west late last night.
Police began receiving phone calls about 10.20 of an enormous
explosion, with reports coming from an area stretching from Wiseman's
Ferry to the lower Blue Mountains.
In about 20 minutes, Riverstone police station alone received
more than 100 calls from worried residents.
Sergeant John King of Riverstone said reports of the noise were
widespread but that nothing had been found to indicate its cause.
"There's no doubt in the world there was some sort of noise. Everyone
thought it was an explosion. It sounded like a bomb."
Police stations at St Marys, Richmond and Mount Druitt were among
others swamped by calls. One officer said she had heard and felt
"The windows moved and the ground shook," she said.
"I thought it had happened right where I was, in the building
I was in.
"Everyone who felt it said it felt like their house was going
to implode. We had so many calls it was ridiculous."
Police were still investigating the cause of the explosion but
had found no signs of any damage. Neither the Bureau of Meteorology
or the Department of Seismology could shed any light on a natural
"I've had a look at the seismic records and there's nothing there,"
said David Jepsen, the duty seismologist for Geoscience Australia.
He said there was a seismic station at Riverview, which would
have registered any unusual activity. "It really could not be
Earlier last night, Sydney had been swamped by a fierce storm
accompanied by heavy rain and lightning, but a Bureau of Meteorology
spokesman said that the bad weather had cleared long before reports
of the explosion.
No one knows the exact origin
of the loud boom that shook part of the city Sunday night.
But when Robert McClain saw his neighbor's lights come on shortly
after 10:30 p.m., he said it was comforting to know he wasn't
the only one with rattling window panes.
McClain said at first, he thought his daughter, 5-year-old Arianna,
had fallen out of her new bed. But that wasn't the case.
"I didn't know what was going on," said McClain, who lives on
Marion Sims Drive. "It shook the whole house, but it didn't sound
like thunder." [...]
Earthquake experts at the University
of South Carolina's Seismic Network have ruled out any tremors
in the area. Pradeep Talwani said nothing showed
on network seismographs. [...]
The Air Force, S.C. Air National Guard and Marines all have planes
stationed in South Carolina that can break the sound barrier,
but SCANG Lt. Col. Les Carroll said he couldn't think of any military
unit in the area that would be flying at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
"That time of night is just an unusual time to be flying," Carroll
said. "I know it wasn't us - we
didn't have any aircraft in the area and it wasn't a drill weekend."
The aircraft that caused a sonic boom over
North Norfolk was a passing foreign warplane flying up the North
Sea, it emerged tonight.
But defence officials are staying tight-lipped over the identity
of the offending military pilot and his nationality.
People across a stretch of east and north Norfolk from Sheringham
to Halvergate heard Monday's big bang at about noon.
The window-rattling boom sparked fears it was huge gas explosion,
but it was later confirmed as a sonic boom
caused by an aircraft that was not British.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Lt Col Stuart Green said last
night the aircraft involved was from another country, and had
not been taking off, landing or involved in an exercise in Britain.
A suspected sonic boom heard across north-east
Norfolk today was not caused by a British aircraft, it was confirmed
The loud bang, heard at least from Sheringham to Halvergate
near Yarmouth, startled hundreds of people going about their daily
business at around noon.
But a Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was not a domestic
fighter that caused the incident, although he was unable to confirm
the source of the sonic boom.
"We believe there was a sonic boom, but it was not a British
aircraft that caused it," said Lt Col Stuart Green. "It was not
one of ours."
Whether the aircraft was European or American was not clear,
but they would be the most likely suspects. But it would have
been a military aircraft, as no civilian plane is capable of going
fast enough to make a sonic boom.
A spokesman for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said the now
out of service Concorde was the only civilian craft that had ever
been able to travel fast enough to create the phenomenon.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb described how he had been sitting
in his office in North Walsham when he heard an "incredible boom".
"The building shook and like many people I was shocked. I thought
'has there been some sort of gas explosion?'"
Mr Lamb said he felt the "disturbing" incident begged questions
that needed to be answered. He pledged to approach ministers for
Ben Dunnell, assistant editor of Aircraft Illustrated and formerly
from Norfolk, said sonic booms were rare in the UK. "There are
regulations governing supersonic flight, but it is not clear what
happened on this occasion."
When the sonic boom was heard, windows and homes shook while
some people were reported to have been running for cover.
"I heard this enormous explosion," said John Hilton, who was
in Stalham at the time. One or two people were very worried, although
most realised fairly quickly what it probably was. But I don't
feel things like this should be happening."
Police and RAF bosses received scores of calls from those concerned
at the explosion. [...]
(Fort Wayne, Indiana) - After about a month
of silence, Fort Wayne's mysterious "boom" has returned.
"You can't describe it," said Helene Lilly,
who heard it almost 10 times Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
"You think you're in a war."
Newschannel 15 and the Fort Wayne Police Department have each
received dozens of phone calls about the noises. This time, the
loudest ones seem to have come from near Parkview Hospital on
eEst State Boulevard.
The people in that neighborhood said their houses were rocked
and their windows were rattled repeatedly sinceTtuesday night.
According to residents, there were four loud booms between 9:30
p.m. and midnight, and another round of four between 6 a.m. And
8:15 a.m. Wednesday.
As of right now, neighbors are concerned. "I need help because
I can't sleep, it scares me, and it scares my whole neighborhood
and the children over there, they're upset, too. And it just isn't
right you know?" Lilly said.
The Fort Wayne Police have no answers. "It's a rabbit we're still
trying to chase down the hole right now," said PIO Michael Joyner.
"We don't know what the source is."
Joyner said the FWPD has already increased patrols of the area
to try to identify the source.
Reports of the mysterious booms
first felt in North Side neighborhoods are now coming from other
city sections and beyond.
Folks from the Fan District, Lakeside, Short Pump and New Kent
County all say they have sensed the shock.
Richmond leaders have even been contacted by officials from Fort
Wayne, Ind., and several Canadian provinces where similar booms
have been felt recently, city emergency services spokesman Bill
"We've gotten anecdotal stories, suggestions and theories from
all over the place," he said. "But from what has been described
to me, I don't believe we are dealing with the same things."
Tier 1 Data Center.
What exactly the city is dealing with remains unclear.
The booms began Nov. 2 and have occurred several times a week
since. Most have been localized in North Side neighborhoods. After
one of the bigger booms - Sunday about 12:45 p.m. - authorities
logged 250 calls to 911 in 90 seconds.
City officials have dismissed construction firms, quarry outfits
and railroad companies as the source of the noise. They have ruled
out military exercises and aviation activities. Public utility
personnel have turned up no evidence of a problem in gas, water
or sewer lines.
And scientists say their instruments show no signs of earthquakes
in the Richmond area.
"If a human being felt an earthquake in the Richmond area, and
it was indeed an earthquake, we would record it on one of these
[seismograph] stations," said Waverly Person a geophysicist with
the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center
in Golden, Colo. "And we recorded nothing."
The region's long-inactive coal mines are not likely the cause
of the reported booms and shaking because none are near North
Richmond, the Fan or the near West End, said geologist David Spears
with the Virginia Division of Mineral Resources in Charlottesville.
"There's nothing resembling gas- or coal-bearing [rock] strata
in the area," he said.
The collapse of old, man-made underground structures, such as
shallow subway tunnels or water conduits, could cause a shake
perceptible to people but not deep enough to register on seismic
scales, ventured James Beard, Virginia Museum of Natural History
"Whatever this is," he said, "it is happening relatively close
to the surface because they are not picking it up on nearby seismographs."
Another possibility, Beard said, is shifting earth from saturation
of the ground from recent rain events, including the remnants
of Tropical Storm Gaston. But in that case, he explained, the
booms would be followed by landslides.
For now, city officials are considering all options.
Advanced audio equipment that will help pinpoint the origin of
the booms will be set up to monitor North Side neighborhoods and
a seismic activity device is on its way to Richmond, Farrar said.
"There's a lot of energy being expended," he said. "We're continuing
to look for anything that might explain this."
Did you see on the news a couple
weeks back the bunch of idiots from North Side, standing out in
the street at midnight, saying they practically had been bounced
out of their beds by a series of "booms" that rocked the neighborhood?
Well, if you did, I was the idiot on the far left, and that was
Barb standing next to me.
I refer to me and my, I assure you, mostly sound-of-mind neighbors
as "idiots" because that's one hypothesis advanced by some of
the folks in a few city departments downtown.
Nobody exactly said that to us, of course, but they did hint
to members of the media after a few days of investigating that
we might be exaggerating.
Rarely does your old close-to-home columnist here get to be right
in the heart of the news, able to give you the true skinny, but
let me assure you this time I couldn't have been any closer -
and we were not exaggerating.
The event that brought a bunch of people to the intersection
of Palmyra Avenue and Gloucester Road in Greater Ginter Park around
midnight on election night seemed to have occurred directly under
A canvas of the neighborhood the next day showed that residents
from Brookland Park to Laburnum, Chamberlayne to Hermitage, each
would have made the same claim about their homes. We all thought
our furnaces had exploded.
I've lived in this house for 18 years, and I've never felt anything
like the explosive forces we experienced that night and then again
early the next morning. (Barb and some others had heard booms
the previous night as well, but those had not been as great on
the rocked-her scale.)
I might as well tell you now that there is still no explanation
for what our explosions might have been.'Tis still a mystery.
Barb had worked at the polls for 16 hours that day. So when she
finally got home - after 9 o'clock - and shared a few poll-worker
stories with me, she headed to bed.
When the first explosion came, the pillow under her head fell
to the floor, and the furniture - not the knick-knacks, mind you,
but the end tables - danced around like cartoon furniture at Wile
E. Coyote's place.
Our phone rang almost immediately. "What the Sam Hill was that?"
a neighbor asked, advising us to get the heck out of the house.
Before I could reply, the second blast went off. The neighbor
said later that that one knocked the phone right out of her hand.
By the time we got to the street, several other neighbors had
assembled in their nightwear. Firetrucks and police officers also
were there very quickly, as several people had called 911.
The firefighters checked out a couple of basements, including
ours, to smell for gas leaks, but they found nothing. Someone
suggested sewer gas as a possibility, and the city representative
who showed up promised to have that checked the next day.
It was right around this time that we first suspected we might
be idiots. Someone from public works asked if we were sure we
hadn't just heard someone shooting off a firecracker to celebrate
the election results.
"Nobody in this neighborhood would be celebrating THOSE results,"
said someone in the group. (Both our precinct and the one adjoining
are liberal strongholds.)
"That being the case," said a fellow from down the street who
obviously had not voted with the neighborhood majority, "maybe
that boom was a message from God for the rest of you to straighten
More people walked up, this time from streets to the west, where
I noticed they wear a better grade of pajamas.
Everyone had a theory. Could it have been an earthquake? Most
thought not, because earthquakes don't go "BOOM," do they?
A methamphetamine lab gone bad? Probably not in a neighborhood
that leans toward Merlot.
A series of sonic booms? Unlikely that they would fall over the
same six- or eight-block radius three days in a row.
The sewer-gas theory was revisited after a neighbor said his
basement had smelled bad of late. Someone asked helpfully, did
he own cats?
My personal theory has something to do with flying saucers, but
I am not at liberty at present to give you any details.
Investigators trying to unravel
the cause of mysterious North Side explosion noises said this
afternoon they found several "pressure-producing devices" that
could have been used to create the booming heard over the past
Richmond Fire Capt. Mike Martin told reporters gathered on a
corner near Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road, a few blocks west
of a roped-off area, that several of the devices had been found,
above ground and below ground.
Police had the neighborhood cordoned during the morning, blocking
eastbound traffic on Laburnum and north-south traffic from Laburnum
to Wilmington Avenue on at least two side streets. Police said
the neighborhood was safe and there was no need for evacuations.
"We found some items that are of a suspicious nature," Martin
said. "We have found evidence. It is a crime scene," he added,
referring to the areas where the objects were found.
He described the objects found as "sort of an explosive device,"
but "more of a pressure-producing device." He said the objects
are designed to create sound, and "damage if you are close to
it." He said it was possible but generally unlikely that the items
could be considered lethal.
They were found at "several locations in the general area," Martin
said, but declined to give more specifics on the locations.
Martin stressed that all investigative avenues are being kept
open, but that the devices found are being considered "some type
of contributing factor" to the explosion noises that have rocked
The pressure-producing devices, he said, would not create "a
crater," but rather a "large amount of noise." Asked to describe
the devices, Martin said they could be as small as four to five
inches in diameter, or up to a foot. He said he knew of no known
commercial applications for such equipment.
He indicated the items could have been home-made, but declined
to answer further questions about their nature, citing the police
Martin said authorities had a meeting Monday night at which numerous
possible causes were brought up, and discussion at that meeting
led to the search this morning for the pressure devices.
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