Loud 'boom' reported across northern Utah, most likely caused by meteor

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Posted at 1:22 PM, Aug 15, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY — The loud boom residents across northern Utah reported hearing early Saturday morning may have been caused by a meteor, officials say.

The sound was heard and felt just before 8:30 a.m., with reports coming in from people who say their homes shook following the boom.

People reported hearing the noise from areas from Roy to Bluffdale and everywhere in between.

Seismologists confirmed that the event was not an earthquake.

“I have experienced many earthquakes," said Luz Hernandez, who lived in Puerto Rico for years. "So because everything shakes, in the house, the walls, definitely it was not that case here — just a big sound."

Many also theorized that the noise was a sonic boom produced from aircraft nearby, possibly from Hill Air Force Base. However, in a tweet sent later Saturday, Gov. Spencer Cox said the noise was not from military aircraft.

Officials say a meteor caused the sound.

The National Weather Service shared a radar image showing the meteor's trail.

Robert Lunsford with the American Meteor Society said it’s rare to hear the sound created by a meteor.

“Your normal meteor is only the size of a pea or a small pebble. This particular object was probably the size of a beachball,” Lunsford said.

“You’ve got a big chunk of rock flying through space, and sometimes they even break up," added Duke Johnson with the Clark Planetarium. "And then you can get multiple booms, and I saw that the Weather Service did have two different blimps on the radar from this thing, so it appears that it may have broken up.

That’s why when the meteor came through the earth’s atmosphere, it pushed on the sound waves, resulting in the boom.

“Anything that surpasses the speed of sound, where the air is thick enough to carry sound waves, can create a sonic boom," Lunsford said. "And the only thing that really does that is lightning, a supersonic jet, and meteors."

Mandi Arrington, who lives in West Jordan, got her trees trimmed on Friday and thought a branch fell.

“I actually thought part of my tree had broken off and hit my house, so that’s why I went out and I started looking around, and I was completely confused,” she said. “It was a relief to find out that it was something else.”

VIDEO COMPILATION BELOW: Meteor streaking across sky; "Boom" noise captured on doorbell cameras

Sound & video compilation: Meteor creates loud 'boom' above northern Utah

(Videos courtesy of David Church, Ruby Rose Anaya, Scott Boekweg, Eva Escalera, Snowbasin Resort, Michelle Baker, Shawn Stubbs, Megan Arnold Buttars, Candace Casteel)

Mythili Gubbi and Jeff Tavss at KSTU first reported this story.