More Mystery Booms Reported from February into March as Phenomenon Continues in 2019

(Emily Wayland / Singular Fortean Society)

(Emily Wayland / Singular Fortean Society)

The series of mystery booms that began being widely reported in 2017 has continued unabated into 2019. The phenomenon, if anything, appears to be becoming more frequent, although it is unclear if this represents an increase in the phenomenon itself, or merely in its reporting.

2019 has so far seen a small series of mysterious booms that echoed across northern Utah on January 5th, and a mystery boom on January 22nd in Kentucky’s Jackson County was followed the next evening by a second boom in Little Rock, Arkansas. The mystery booms continued through early February across a slew of states; including Tennessee, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Louisiana, Arizona, and Wisconsin.

Since then, more mystery booms have been reported in Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and North Carolina.

Once such boom rattled windows in the Arkansas town of Beebe on February 24th.

“We have no idea what it was,” resident Maeve Harvey told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “My husband and I went out after it happened to make sure everything around town was good. We didn’t see anything. We didn’t even hear sirens.”

She and her husband said they heard the sound around 8:45 p.m., and at first thought it might be thunder or some kind of sonic boom.

Enough people reported the phenomenon that the Beebe police department released a statement through social media stating they had been notified of the “loud explosion sound," but were not aware of any damage and did not know “what the explosion was or where it happened.”

Local authorities ruled out any military vehicles or armaments from nearby Camp Jackson or Little Rock Air Force Base as the cause.

At least one local, Pat Alford, said he saw a bright flash of light in the sky around 7 p.m., although FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford hadn't received any such reports; regardless, many are so far speculating that a meteor might be to blame.

Meanwhile, mystery booms in East Louisville, Kentucky could be related to similar sounds reported in Jackson, Madison, Estill, and Rockcastle counties.

The booms have been ongoing for months, have been reported as early as 4 a.m. and as late as 10:40 p.m., are violent enough to shake residents’ houses, and are sometimes preceded by a flash of light.

“Sometime around November…I had my own experience,” St. Matthews resident Matthew Messer told WLKY. “I had just turned east on Columbia Avenue from Marquette Drive when I happened to notice a single bright light shoot up into the sky behind me, followed by what sounded like a mortar type firework being launched. About five seconds later, right as I was about to turn left…I heard a very loud explosion that genuinely surprised me, as it was much louder than a standard mortar-type firework.”

Military exercises at Fort Knox, air traffic, frost quakes, seismic events, and blasting for mining or construction projects were all ruled out as explanations for the booms; at least until February of 2019, when tank exercises at Fort Knox are said to have accounted for some of the more recent sounds.

Residents of Johnston County in North Carolina were baffled by a mysterious boom in their area on March 3rd, following reports of similar booms in nearby Wake County earlier this year.

"It was a little bit of a weird atmosphere then, boom a loud bang," local man Rocky Hall told WRAL. "When I mean loud, I mean it took the air out of your sucked right out of you and then everybody came running out of the houses and stuff.”

Similarly to their Wake County counterparts, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Department has had little luck in identifying the source of the booms.

Just under one hundred miles east, in North Carolina’s Columbia, Craven, and Carteret Counties, residents were shaken by a mystery boom on the afternoon of March 6th.

Seismic and meteorological activity, as well as sonic booms and armament training from nearby military bases were all ruled out as possible explanations by the National Weather Service Newport/Morehead City forecast office.

The area has a history of such booms, often referred to as the “Seneca guns,” which have occurred along the shores of Lake Seneca and Lake Cayuga in New York State, as well as the tidewater area of Virginia, the Outer Banks, and the Carolina coast since at least the 19th century. There’s no consensus on their cause in the region, although one popular opinion is that temperature inversions are allowing for sound to travel much farther than expected, delivering the seemingly sourceless noise of storms and sonic booms from over the horizon.

Residents of the Ozarks region of Missouri have been reporting mystery booms since 2018, with the most recent incident on March 19th of this year.

Local authorities have come up empty so far, but sonic booms remain a relatively popular explanation.

Mike Griffin, meteorologist at the Springfield National Weather Service office, noted that a sonic boom from an aircraft flying at 30,000 to 40,000 feet would typically be heard 30 to 40 miles beneath the craft's flight path. But booms in the area are heard at much farther distances.

"It possibly had to be higher up, like 100,000 feet or more," to spread such a wide swath of "boom," Griffin told the Springfield News-Leader in June of 2018. "Sometimes you can see a streak on radar of a meteor burning up in the atmosphere."

Griffin looked at weather service radar, but found no such streaks; although the regional weather radar can only detect things up to about 65,000 feet.

"If something came in at 100,000 feet or higher, our radar doesn't see that high," he said.

Reports of mysterious booms—sometimes accompanied by flashes of light and/or minor tremors—have been on the rise worldwide since 2017, continuing throughout 2018 and into this year. The booms have been reported across the United States in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, North and South Carolina, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin; as well as in the countries of Russia, Denmark, England, and Australia.

Meteors and other natural events—such as frost quakes—remain popular explanations for the booms, and bolide meteors were blamed for mystery booms in California, Michigan, and Washington in 2018. However, no blanket explanation covers every occurrence of a mystery boom and many cases go unexplained entirely.

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