Sonic boom rattles windows, nerves along the Wasatch Front; residents run from homes fearing earthquake

Sonic Boom
Screensaver: University of Utah Seismic Sources

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 2, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “It was deja vu, all over again,” for thousands of residents along the Wasatch Tuesday night, when what many mistakenly thought was an earthquake, rattled both windows and nerves across the Salt Lake Valley.

According to comments on social media, many of those who were jolted from their La-Z-Boys thought it was aftershock from the 5.7 magnitude quake which caused millions in damage on March 18, 2020.

Residents from downtown Salt Lake City to Utah County reported feeling the big boom about 8:09 p.m. Tuesday, prompting some people to run from their homes.

“I’m in Poplar Grove downtown Salt Lake City and it shook my house good!” wrote one Twitter follower. “My neighbors and all went running outside!”

“What was it? We live in Sandy. My whole desk, even the monitor I was looking at was shaking!?” said another.

While there were no immediate notifications of seismic activity on the U.S. Geological Survey’s quake tracking site, the unnerving event was recorded by seismologists at the University of Utah’s Seismic Stations.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the UUSS wrote, “We’ve received a few reports of shaking in Salt Lake County near Sandy/West Jordan. We can confirm the shaking was not caused by an earthquake.”

In a follow-up statement, the USSS revealed, “The shaking that was felt in Salt Lake County tonight was not caused by an earthquake. While we did record a signal on our seismometers, the waves are traveling too slowly to be seismic.”

A post on social media by the Utah Department of Emergency Management shed further light on the cause of Tuesday night’s adrenaline rush, sharing the UUSS tweets while posting a link to an article published online by the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base

“The active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings will conduct local night-flying operations on most weekdays through the second week of April. During this period, most flying is scheduled to be completed between 7-10 p.m., but there will be a few occasions where flying ends later,” the article said.

“Hill’s fighter wings must train at night to maintain their combat readiness and all-weather capabilities and night flying is limited to what is required for pilots to remain proficient in those skills.”

Hill AFB personnel take part in a night training exercises in Feb. 2021. The specialized training mission is expected to last until April 2021. Photo: 388th Fight Wing

In recent days, an uptick in military flights have been reported by Utah aviation buffs, as combined forces from multiple air bases take part in Red Flag deployment exercises over Utah and Nevada and other western states.

Late last week, three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers were captured in flight over northern Utah by Gephardt Daily photojournalist Monico Garza. While the aircraft were clearly visible in Garza’s viewfinder, they were nowhere to be seen on radar trackers.

Hill fighter wings will continue night flying through second week of April, according to the Hill AFB website. Residents across the Wasatch Front can anticipate other sonic booms in the weeks ahead.

B2 Stealth Bombers Over Utah
A Northrop B-2 Spirit stealth bomber flies over northern Utah, Feb. 25, 2021. Exclusive Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

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