Air Force explains source of mysterious booms

Posted at 2:22 PM, Jan 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-09 19:16:41-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Hill Air Force Base issued a news release Wednesday afternoon that may explain the loud booms heard around the Wasatch Front Tuesday night.

Hundreds of residents from Weber to Utah County, reported shaking and hearing loud booms at around 9 p.m. and officials seemingly had no answer to what those noises were.

“All of a sudden, the house started vibrating, I said, ‘What is that,'” said Ogden resident Brenna Allred. “I did think it was an earthquake.

Representatives for the University of Utah’s seismograph stations said that they did record sonic activity, but it wasn’t an earthquake.

“We think this was an above ground event, these can be airplanes breaking the sound barrier,” said Katherine Widden, research seismologist.

ATK said they were not conducting any rocket tests, the Utah National Guard said they were not conducting any weapons or artillery training and Hill Air Force Base said they did not have any planes in the air after 6 p.m.

But HAFB released a statement Wednesday, saying that a B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft flying from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana dropped ordnance, or explosives, on the Utah Test and Training Range Tuesday night.

“Aircraft noises, explosions and other military operations conducted on the UTTR can sometimes be heard on the East side of the Great Salt Lake,” said George Jozens, Hill AFB spokesman. “If weather conditions are just right, sound will carry, ricochet and even be amplified and travels many miles. Barksdale’s B-52s were dropping ordnance during training about 9 p.m. last night directly West of the southern part of the Great Salt Lake on the UTTR.”

There were reports from as far as California of residents hearing the loud booms. HAFB says the B-52 is not capable of going supersonic and creating a sonic boom, so how those noises were heard states away remains a mystery.

The testing is expected to continue on Wednesday night.