A meteor hurtling through the atmosphere faster than the speed of sound likely caused the sonic like boom that startled many residents in LaSalle Parish and throughout north central Louisiana late last Monday afternoon.

The loud noise, first believed to be a sonic boom or gas pipeline explosion, happened just before 5 p.m. on Monday and was heard from the Arkansas-Louisiana line, to the Mississippi River, to Natchitoches and to below Alexandria.

Earlier, experts said a high-speed aircraft probably made the sound, but checks with air bases in the area found no planes were in the air at the time.

Law enforcement officers in several parishes, including LaSalle, searched for a possible pipeline explosion, but found nothing.

Later, residents of Memphis, Tennessee said they saw a fire ball traveling through the skies and a resident of Bunkie claims she saw a gray mass with no flames moving through the sky at the about the same time the loud boom was heard on Monday.

Louisiana Delta Community College meteorologist Don Wheeler said evidence indicates a meteor was the apparent cause of the sonic boom.