Sonic Boom: What's Shaking South Jersey Multiple Times

Naval tests with fancy jets were likely responsible for shaking homes up and down the New Jersey Coast multiple times Thursday afternoon leading to police begging people to stop calling 911 as they awaited word on what caused the tremors.[[366896251, C]]

NBC10 Philadelphia’s own Ted Greenberg was one of the many people in Atlantic County and other New Jersey counties who felt something around 1:30 p.m. [[366879811, C]]

There were fears of an earthquake and Hamilton Township Police reported that they received numerous calls about the shaking and asked people to only call 911 if they had an actual emergency. [[366879401, C]]

Eventually, the National Weather Service in Mount Holly reported the incidents to be caused by a sonic boom. [[366885451, C]]

Dr. Mitchell Gold at Columbia's Lamont Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network told NBC New York that it didn't look seismic based on the seismographs and also leaned toward a sonic boom being the culprit for the shaking.

A few minutes later, the U.S. Geological Survey centered the shaking near Trenton Road (U.S. Route 206) in Hammonton, Atlantic County -- not far from tiny Hammonton Municipal Airport -- at 1:24 p.m. and called it a "probable sonic boom" that caused shaking over a series of time. [[366888181, C]]

Officials from the Navy said the sonic booms were caused by military fighter jets conducting tests around 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.

An F-35C, which has a top speed of nearly 1,200 mph, and an F-18 from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland were conducting supersonic testing off the coast Thursday afternoon, according to a Navy spokeswoman.

Navy spokeswoman Connie Hempel said supersonic tests flights are done almost daily in the same area but that most sonic booms aren't felt on land. They are conducted offshore in an area called the Test Track, parallel to the coast of the Delmarva Peninsula which is occupied by Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Certain atmospheric conditions can increase the chance of hearing the booms.

Residents in Margate and Egg Harbor reported feeling the shaking -- as did people as far away as Leesburg in Cumberland County; Lakewood, Ocean County; and even Amityville on Long Island. [[366882531, C]]

Different shakes kept being felt on and off, said people in various towns. Greenberg reported feeling more rattling around 2, 2:15 and 2:25 p.m. [[366881881, C]]

The booms were heard as far away as Connecticut.

Police in Barnegat Township, Ocean County blamed a crack in the Sheetrock of a home on Susan Drive on rattling. There weren't any other reports of damage and no reports of injuries.

Toms River, Ocean County, police also asked that people not call 911 and said they had received various reports of "earthquake-type-feel" shaking around 2:20 p.m.

"It almost sounded like an airplane was coming and then the whole house was shaking," said Angel Itri, who was house and babysitting along Pomona Road in Galloway, Atlantic County at the time. "We heard something like a boom or like a swishing sound and then the whole house, the windows were shaking."

Itri and her friend felt that boom twice in about 10 minutes then another eight times after that.

A geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey said there were nine total booms. Bruce Presgrave said recordings show they occurred over the span of 90 minutes.

"A sonic boom is the thunder-like noise a person on the ground hears when an aircraft or other type of aerospace vehicle flies overhead faster than the speed of sound or supersonic," explains NASA. "Air reacts like a fluid to supersonic objects. As objects travel through the air, the air molecules are pushed aside with great force and this forms a shock wave much like a boat creates a bow wave. The bigger and heavier the aircraft, the more air it displaces." [[238427591, C]]

There were no reports of planned military training Thursday and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst says they had nothing going on Thursday. And Dover Air Force Base in Delaware said it has no aircraft capable of producing a sonic boom and had no planes flying in the area Thursday.

After a sonic boom in South Carolina Wednesday, College of Charleston Department of Geology associate professor Dr. Erin Beutel said sonic booms "are perceived by the people on the ground differently under different atmospheric conditions.

"It can also take between 2-60 seconds after the plane passes through for the boom to be heard, and over the ocean, the pressure wave can travel further and be heard by more people than on land," said Beutel.

Besides sonic booms and quakes, other things such as big trucks, military exercises and noisy machinery have also been known to cause shaking.

The Department of Defense employs a hotline for noise disturbances for the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River. Questions can be referred to 866-819-9028.

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

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us