Officials say sonic booms heard and felt along the coast from New Jersey to Connecticut were caused by military fighter jets conducting tests.
A Navy spokeswoman says an F-35C and F-18 from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, were conducting supersonic testing off the coast Thursday afternoon.
The F-35C has a top speed of nearly 1,200 mph.
The Navy released the following statement:
“Aircraft from Naval Test Wing Atlantic were conducting routine flight testing in the Atlantic Test Ranges this afternoon that included activities which may have resulted in sonic booms.
The test wing is critical to the safe test and evaluation of all types of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft in service and in development and is primarily based out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
Other military aircraft, including both Navy and Air Force, also frequently use the ranges for testing and training.”
Residents reported hearing loud booms and feeling the ground and buildings shake. The booms were heard as far away as Connecticut.
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 Viriginia.
Certain atmospheric conditions can increase the chance of hearing the booms.
Thursday’s tests were done around 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
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.
RELATED: What causes a sonic boom?
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.
The U.S. Geological Survey first confirmed that the event was a sonic boom.
The USGS explained in a tweet: “A sonic boom travels through the air w/ the airplane so it arrives at different ground locations at different times.”
Since many have asked: A sonic boom travels through the air w/ the airplane so it arrives at different ground locations at different times.—
(@USGS) January 28, 2016
The USGS provided the locations of the sonic booms they recorded, and their proximity to nearby towns:
– 2 miles NNE of Hammonton, NJ
– 8 miles SSE of Jackson, NJ
– 11 miles East of Williamstown, NJ
– 13 miles SE of Pine Hill, NJ
– 37 miles S of Trenton, NJ
Mysterious Sonic Booms over New Jersey
Thursday 28 January 2016
At least 10 sonic booms were reported over southern New Jersey and along the East Coast to Long Island, New York, on Jan. 28, 2016.
A sonic boom occurs when an object (or an explosion) travels faster than the speed of sound (761.2 mph, or 1,225 km/h, at sea-level), sending out a shock wave that also travels faster than sound.
A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves created by an object traveling through the air faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding much like an explosion.
If an explosion had caused these booms, someone likely would have seen it.
Officials have also ruled out NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island in Virginia, which routinely launches small rockets and jet test flights from its Eastern Shore site. But no rocket launches or jet flights occurred at the NASA center.
Scientists knew these were seismic waves from sonic booms and not earthquakes because of their speed. “An earthquake moves through the ground and it moves 10,000 feet per second [3,048 meters per second]. These waves were moving away from the seismometers in New Jersey at speeds that would suggest they were moving faster than sound in the air. A seismometer that tracks waves moving through the ground can pick up a sonic boom, whose waves move through the air. But the seismometers usually have to be pretty close to where the boom occurs, because sound doesn’t transfer well into the ground.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) had both confirmed they didn’t have any planes operating nearby that could have generated the sonic booms, ABC News reports.
No aircraft capable of sonic booms were operating at nearby naval air bases either, according to officials.
The cause of yesterday’s sonic booms remains mysterious so far.