Minutes before 7pm last night, Wednesday, neighbors around the Ferndale area were startled by two loud “booms” occurring a split-second apart.
Some reported houses and windows being rattled while others noted their animals began “going crazy” afterwards and yet others in the area reported hearing nothing.
According to Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management (DEM) Deputy Director John Gargett, there were no calls into the What-Comm dispatch center (9-1-1) after the event that would indicate a crash or explosion as the source of the noise. Nothing was reported at the nearby refineries either.
The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network reports no seismic events in or near the area able to be responsible for such a noise. Gargett said, “USGS scientists speculate small shallow earthquakes too small to be recorded can cause loud booms, but there were no seismicity events last night.”
The possibility of the noise having been a sonic boom exists but is difficult to confirm. A sonic boom is usually heard as deep double “booms” and occurs when shockwaves from aircraft flying at supersonic speed reach the ground.
Sonic booms are uncommon due to numerous nuisance and damage complaints lodged back in the 60s and 70s which led the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create a ban on nearly all supersonic flight by civil aircraft over the United States and its territorial waters. Though this ban does not effect military aircraft.
Gargett notes there are military aircraft which may cause such a sonic boom, but another possibility, noting the season and with tongue-in-cheek, is Santa testing sleigh technology used to assist the reindeer when delivering toys around the world in one night.
According to Gargett, “Rumors are the booms heard in Ferndale were caused by Santa doing a dry run of his stardust anti-matter propulsion engine sleigh and going from supersonic to more normal speeds on his landing approach back to the North Pole.”