USGS: Sonic boom caused shaking from Peninsula to Outer Banks

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by 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 23 at 5:53 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH - From the Outer Banks to York County, people reported their homes shaking, things falling off the walls and even hearing odd sounds.

We asked about it on the WVEC13 Facebook page and hundreds of people talked about what they experienced around 8:00 a.m.

Jennifer Goyet posted, "I was in my garage and I did not feel it BUT I heard it. Sounds like something bumped into my garage door from the wind but I looked and no wind."

"Hampton got three loud rumbles about a minute or two apart. Didn't feel like a quake but a trash truck or thunder," posted Ketie Martines.

Kimberly O'Connor Melnyk wrote, "I live 1/2 a mile from the court house in Virginia Beach. My house shook, and a few seconds later, it shook again."

Jim Ansell posted, "Shook the house in Knotts Island. 4 in a row. Lasted about 3-4 seconds each and were between 30 sec-1 min apart."

The U.S. Geological Survey told 13News Now there was a sonic boom reported in Norfolk at 8:00 a.m., but officials didn't have information on the source of the boom. A sonic boom is caused by planes flying faster than the speed of sound.

NAS Oceana officials told WVEC.com late Friday, "The base's air traffic control radar was reviewed for aircraft that may have caused a sonic boom phenomenon.  There were several military aircraft stationed at NAS Oceana in the established training areas situated off the Virginia coast this morning, all of which were performing routine military training within the established parameters (more than 20 miles off the coast)."

Over at Tidewater Community College, Greg Frank, Dean of Natural Sciences at the Virginia Beach campus, said no instruments picked up anything indicative of an earthquake. That would indicate that the event was either a surface disturbance (ie. Explosion) or atmospheric (ie. Sonic boom). Even the NOAA site did not pick up anything, he said.

Statement from NAS Oceana:

A sonic boom is the thunder-like noise a person hears on the ground when an aircraft or other type of aerospace vehicle flies faster than the speed of sound, or supersonic (www.nasa.gov).  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the speed that aircraft can fly to maintain established federal standards reflected in current U.S. Noise Regulations, specifically limiting the speeds of military aircraft to under supersonic speeds within 12 miles of the U.S coast.  However, due to atmospheric conditions, it is possible for the sound of a sonic boom to travel far distances through the atmosphere.  NAS Oceana air traffic control radar was reviewed for aircraft that may have caused a sonic boom phenomenon.  There were several military aircraft stationed at NAS Oceana in the established training areas situated off the Virginia coast this morning, all of which were performing routine military training within the established parameters (more than 20 miles off the coast).

Kelley Stirling
Public Affairs Officer
NAS Oceana

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