“There was NO earthquake. There are no reports of explosions or crashes on the ground.”
Grays Harbor Emergency Management Deputy Director Charles Wallace issued that statement at 8:20 p.m. on Wednesday after his office was inundated with calls about a loud boom or explosion heard from North Beach, to Ocean Shores to Westport and Grayland and even in east Grays Harbor County, north to the Olympics and Vancouver Island.
“Grays Harbor Emergency Management has contacted the National Weather Service in Seattle about our incident that was reported tonight and was told we were not having a severe weather event at the time of the reported ground shaking, loud boom and flash of light in the sky. The State Duty Officer contacted the FAA and the Western Air Defense Sector and was told they had no problems. … We will continue our investigation of the incident and will forward any information we receive.”
Twelve hours later, an update was issued: “Still no definite confirmation for the cause of the flash of light and loud boom in the Pacific Northwest last night. It was possibly a Bolide Meteoroid. There were 15 reports to the American Meteor Society about the same incident last night.”
Video footage of the event was broadcast by KING-5 News in Seattle, showing the sky light up across Grays Harbor County. Jesse Dasher was on a commercial fishing boat 17.5 miles off the coast and reported seeing “the flash, the whole sky light up follow by a loud boom.”
A bolide is a special type of fireball, or very bright meteor, that explodes in a bright flash at its end, according to the American Meteor Society.
If a fireball explodes as a bolide below an altitude of 30 miles, there’s a chance people on the ground could hear sonic booms, which are noises that occur when an object goes faster than the speed of sound.
Sound travels slowly, so it usually takes between 90 seconds to four minutes after the explosion before the sonic boom is heard.
Ocean Shores Police Chief Neccie Logan said her department received at least 20 911 calls reporting the light and explosion. “From what I understand there were over 100 across the county, that’s what I’m being told,” she said.