Mysterious boom in Alabama baffles experts, prompts witty folk song; videos

A sound graph from the U.S. Geological Survey's Lakeview Retreat near Centreville, Alabama, revealed a loud boom that occurred Tuesday over the state at 1:39 p.m. Central Standard Time.

NASA scientists in Huntsville were at a loss to explain what caused the mysterious boom that shook much of Alabama and had people calling 911.

A sound graph from the U.S. Geological Survey's Lakeview Retreat in Alabama, revealed a loud boom Tuesday at 1:39 p.m. CST. Photo: Courtesy of NASA

The boom was reported to law enforcement and other agencies in central Alabama, including in Arab, Anniston, Hayden, Kimberly, Center Point, Jasper, Gardendale, according to AL.com.

It was also heard across north Alabama in Blount, Jefferson, Walker, Cullman, Talladega, Calhoun, Clay, Winston, Randolph, Tuscaloosa and St. Clair counties, WBMA reported.

Dawn Stanton told WBMA that it sounded like "a propane tank just exploding. I looked and I didn't see nothin' sailing through the air."

Home surveillance video recorded what it sounded like from the living room of Amy Phelps.

James Spann, chief meteorologist at WBMA, reported this update from Bill Cooke of NASA in Huntsville:

The origin of that mysterious boom that rocked central Alabama today remains unclear. Here’s what we know right now:

Seismic data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Lakeview Retreat near Centreville, Alabama, show a fairly loud boom occurring on or before 1:39 p.m. CST.

The Elginfield Infrasound Array located in southern Ontario, 600 miles from north Alabama, picked up a matching infrasound signal beginning at 2:02 p.m. and lasting around ten minutes. The signal could have been generated by a bolide, large supersonic aircraft or a ground explosion.

Eyewitness reports of a vapor trail point to a meteor or an aircraft as a possible cause.

The sound was not caused by a Leonid meteor, which is the light produced by a fragile bit of comet hitting the atmosphere at over 150,000 miles per hour. At such speeds, the particle does not last long, burning up completely at altitudes of 60 miles or so. Leonids never penetrate low enough into Earth's atmosphere to produce sounds audible on the ground.

As new data become available, our meteor scientists and their colleagues will do further analysis to triangulate and better characterize the energy of the event, which may provide more clues.

So, speculation largely points to a large meteor or a supersonic aircraft.

Whatever it was had the people of Alabama talking about it, and had one writing a song about it.

Trey Cochran, a singer/songwriter, crafted a witty ditty called "The Bama Boom."

NASA meteor scientists continue to analyze data in hopes of determining the source of the mysterious boom.

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