Residents in Nelson

Thunder-like boom in West Kootenay prompts speculation

Rumbling sound was heard in Salmo, Trail, Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson and other communities.

No one’s quite sure what caused a loud, rumbling noise Saturday morning heard by people from Salmo, Fruitvale, Trail, Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson, and points in between.

Many people on the Farm the Kootenays Facebook page reported hearing it and suggested what it might have been.

According to Robert Bailer and Alison Duff, dogs began barking at 6 a.m.

“I heard that in Rossland! I just assumed it was blasting on the highway,” wrote Betty R. Rekster.

“Reminded me of Mt. St. Helen’s when I heard it,” wrote Jim Ross.

Brittanie Reid wrote “I heard it was an explosion at Copper Mountain in Princeton,” but the Similkameen Spotlight confirmed there was no such explosion reported there on Saturday.

Both Sheri Ferraro and Ryan Lewis reported feeling their houses shake during the sound. Though some thought it might be an earthquake, Meghan Osborne wrote “I lived in South California all my life … I’ve never heard an earthquake sound like that.”

Kathy Whitney suggested: “Fracking for oil in nearby Idaho or Washington?”

Some were reminded of the 2007 incident in which a low-flying jet woke up citizens and shook houses in Trail, prompting a response from BC Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko.

Michael Guy wrote “For it to have travelled over so many ranges it would’ve needed to originate high up. I think sonic boom from a military jet is the best explanation.”

But Ross took issue with that.

“The sound from Mt. St. Helens traveled all the way here when it happened. Doesn’t have to originate from high up to travel long distances. Mt. St. Helens was heard as far north as Prince George.”

Seismologist Taimi Mulder, who works with the Geographical Survey of Canada, said the noise could have been the result of blasting, road construction or rock quarrying.

None of their instruments registered the event, which means it was “definitely not an earthquake.”

She said the fact the noise traveled such a distance means it traveled through the air. She noted the communities affected draw a line down the Columbia River, and said it was most likely a sonic boom caused by a military jet or a meteorite passing overheard, which could create shockwaves capable of shaking a house.

Other commenters linked to articles suggesting the event was caused by the Arietids meteor shower, which happens annually between May and July.

“When you hear the noise associated, the rock has to enter through the atmosphere which leaves a trail of light and creates a sonic boom. But it’s harder to see during daylight,” said Mulder.

That might explain why no one reported seeing anything. These showers are reportedly hard to identify with the human eye.

“In my experience the most likely thing here is a military aircraft or a meteorite. That’s what it’s always been in the past,” said Mulder.