Meteor tops list of suspects for Sunday’s boom that rattled southern NH

Monitor staff
Published: 10/11/2021 10:46:18 AM

Anyone puttering around the house and yard late Sunday morning had a good chance of experiencing a strange boom that was heard and felt throughout southern New Hampshire.

It was probably, although not yet definitely, a meteor bursting in the upper atmosphere.

“Felt like someone set off a canon nearby (they do that here),” a resident of New Boston reported on, one of hundreds of comments on all sorts of social media about the odd sonic event heard around 11:30 a.m. Sunday. “Shook the walls and windows as well as the desk and chair where I was working.”

Reports were posted from as far north as Concord, although most were south and west of Manchester.

United States Geological Survey readings showed no signs of a quake on Sunday. WMUR reported that there were no military flights over the region on Sunday, ruling out a boom from a supersonic aircraft. And there were no reports of a human-caused explosion, not even a gender-reveal disaster like the one involving 80 pounds of explosions that shook homes in April.

A spokesman at the National Weather Service office in Gray, Maine, which covers New Hampshire, said they have reached out to NASA’s Earth observing team to see if that group has an explanation. No official response was available as of early Monday afternoon. The Keene Sentinel reported that a National Weather Service meteorologist noticed a satellite’s single lighting report over southwestern New Hampshire when no lightning was in the area, which could actually be a meteor burning up and exploding as it enters the atmosphere.

That would agree with comments from scientist John Ebel at the Weston Observatory, who told WMUR: “I would look for a natural event, something coming into the atmosphere past the speed of sound. … Meteor, meteorite, probably causing enough energy to be released that people heard it here down on the ground.”

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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