National Weather Service: Meteors may have caused loud 'boom, shaking' in western Pennsylvania
A meteor explosion likely caused the loud "boom" noise and shaking sensation experienced by many people around the region Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service Pittsburgh.
The GOES-16 weather satellite — stationed over the western hemisphere to deliver images and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity — showed a flash above western Pennsylvania at that time that was not associated with lightning, the weather service said.
"No confirmation, but this is the most likely explanation at this time," it said.
The loud explosion heard over SW PA earlier may have been a meteor explosion. This GOES-16 GLM Total Optical Energy product shows a flash that was not associated with lightning. No confirmation, but this is the most likely explanation at this time. pic.twitter.com/ArtHCEA1RT— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) January 1, 2022
Allegheny County officials said they received multiple reports from people who said they experienced “a loud boom, shaking” around 11:20 a.m. Saturday in the South Hills and other parts of western Pennsylvania.
Users of Twitter and other social media platforms also posted similar reports from multiple communities around Allegheny County and southern Washington County. Many of them speculated Saturday that an earthquake caused the phenomena, but government and weather officials quickly ruled that out.
Allegheny County 9-1-1 has received reports of a loud boom, shaking in the South Hills and other reports. We have confirmed that there was no seismic activity and no thunder/lightning. At this point, we have no explanation for the reports, but agencies are continuing to look.— Allegheny County (@Allegheny_Co) January 1, 2022
“We confirmed no seismic activity and no thunder/lightning,” Allegheny County Director of Communications Amie Downs wrote in an email Saturday. “At this point, we have no explanation for it, but agencies are continuing to look.”
The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors and reports on earthquakes, also said Saturday that the agency has not detected an earthquake in the area and has not reported seismic activity.
Jenna Lake, a meteorologist with the weather service, said no thunder or lightning was reported in the region at that time. Local 911 centers did not have evidence of any explosions in the area, she added.
“We’ve seen a lot of reports on social media of big booms, but we really don’t know,” said Lake. “We really don’t have any evidence that it was an earthquake.”
Lake said the sound may have been caused by a meteor shower that passed by or entered the atmosphere.