It’s unclear what caused two separate instances in which flashes of light were followed by thunderous booms in Baraboo early Sunday.
A resident on Sauk Avenue called 911 to report a loud boom Sunday around 1 a.m. That prompted more than 30 comments on the Baraboo Scanner page on Facebook — which posts information about calls to public service agencies — from other residents who heard the same thing. Some reported they saw a flash before the boom.
About 45 minutes later, residents throughout the city called authorities to report a second flash and boom.
A Baraboo police officer witnessed the first incident while parked on the 800 block of Eighth Street.
“I observed a large flash of light followed by a ‘boom,’” the officer wrote in his report. “I advised dispatch of this information and my belief that it was possibly a transformer.”
Baraboo is about 60 miles southwest of Clintonville, WI, where scientists have documented microquakes in conjunction with booming noises reported there.
Tip: Strange Sounds in the Sky
But there were no reported power outages so the cause remains a mystery. The National Weather Service in the area did not find thunderstorms in the area at that time either. It is possible to have lightning from a clear sky. But this could have many other possible explanations. Here is another occurrence a few days earlier in Pennsylvania.
Strong thunderstorms hit the Poconos Friday night, moving through shortly after 10 p.m. and continuing for at least a half hour, but the weather event that had folks talking was a loud sonic-like boom that shook houses at about 10:15 p.m.
Lorene R. Allman-Mars, wrote: “My son was at the back door letting the dogs out and he reported that he saw a large flash of light fill the sky toward/above the FedEx distribution site on 940, then he heard a loud boom. It didn’t look like lightning, it looked like a bomb blew up in the air. I was on the second floor of the house; I didn’t see anything but I heard the boom and felt it shake the house. The floors shook; I have never felt lightning shake the house like that before and we’ve been up here 20 years!”
Meteorologist and Pocono weather expert Ben Gelber offered this explanation: “One possibility is that thunderstorms in our chilly environment near the surface tonight, associated with an inversion of warm air aloft, sound much louder. The sound waves are refracted back to the surface and reverberate in ways that we normally do not experience as they bounce between the surface and the inversion near the base of the clouds.”
In this case, the odds that it was associated with a passing meteorological event seem very likely. It’s just that thunder and lightning (sound and light) can be perceived differently under unusual atmospheric conditions.
The worrisome aspect of these booms is that people are on edge, attributing them to explosions, earthquakes, natural catastrophes, plane crashes, meteor strikes or worse…
Read some of the comments and the booms are connected to underground bunkers, fracking, HAARP, pole shifts, 2012, aliens, all sorts of weird and wacky, conspiracy-oriented, scary, Armageddon-like causes around the world. Even established meteor sightings are questioned as something more ominous. (The website “Strange Sounds in the Sky” is a prime location for mystery mongering and pseudoscience but does have all the latest reports. And, ALL comments are welcomed.) There is no reason to overreact. We haven’t figured out all of nature yet. And, it could be a man-made event as well. Don’t panic.