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Navy Aircraft Testing May Have Caused Earthquake-Like Sonic Boom Felt from New Jersey to Long Island

Naval aircraft testing over the Atlantic Ocean created the sonic booms that caused rumbles and house-shaking that could be felt from the southern Jersey Shore to Long Island and the Connecticut coast and prompted thousands of tweets and 911 calls from residents thinking they were feeling the tremors of an earthquake. 

Officials with the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland said they were conducting testing  of F-35C fighter jet over the Atlantic Ocean Thursday afternoon and that some of the aircraft performed maneuvers that could have caused sonic booms.

The sonic-boom fueled tremors were reported first in southern New Jersey -- near Cape May County -- before moving up the coastline sometime before 2 p.m. Within an hour residents in Amityville, Long Island, Staten Island and southeastern Connecticut all also reported the shaking.

U.S. Geological Survey officials say the booms -- created when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier by traveling more than 768 mph -- were first recorded 8 miles south of Jackson, New Jersey. Eight other spikes were reported at multiple stations in southern New Jersey.

“We don’t believe it to be seismic,” Dutton told NBC 4 New York. “We don’t believe it’s an earthquake based upon what we see in the waveforms. It’s probably sonic boom but we can’t prove that.”

NBC 4 New York Jersey Shore correspondent Ted Greenberg was one of the many people who felt the shaking, feeling rattling at 2 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 2:25 p.m.

One Barneget. New Jersey resident showed a photo of a crack in the ceiling he said was caused by the boom.

Diane Bates of Amityville,  Long Island, said she didn't know what was happening when her walls started creaking and her ceiling fan began spinning on its own. 

"A little bit, an eighth of a spin," she said. "I knew something was going on."

She said the earthquake-like vibrations got stronger, sending at least six pulses through her Amityville home.

"I actually felt it in me," she said. "It was a sensation that I've never experienced before."  

The USGS also had calls from the Jersey Shore through Long Island.

“We see the event on multiple stations in southern New Jersey," Dutton said. "And we had people call from Long Island to say they felt shaking. “

Dutton said she could associate a magnitude with the the spikes because that only describes seismic activity – not sonic booms.

The rattling perplexed state police in the Garden State.

In Hamilton Township, Toms River, and Ocean County, New Jersey, police reported they received so many calls that they had to put out an advisories urging the public to stop calling 911 unless they had an actual emergency.


NBC 10 in Philadelphia first reported the rumbles.

Did you feel the shaking? Please share your experience in the comment section.

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