BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Residents of Fannin and Gilmer counties took to social media late Friday night trying to find the source of what is being described as a loud explosion. The boom that took place had enough force that some residents were reporting their homes shaking from the blast.
Brenda Curry, a resident of Cherry Log, described what happened close to midnight on Dec. 29: “At first, I heard (and felt) one big explosion. I looked outside, because it sounded like a transformer had blown, or what I imagined a propane tank might sound like if it exploded.”
“I didn’t see anything,” Curry stated of looking outside directly after the noise,”no fire, flames, or smoke.”
The unexplained noises did not stop there. “Then I heard another boom. A minute later there was another one. Then there were about seven ‘booms’,” Curry added, “A few minutes later about five more.”
Residents in a large area of both Fannin and Gilmer counties described similar events. Reports came in via Facebook of having felt or heard the explosion in downtown Blue Ridge, near Fannin Regional Hospital on Hwy. 5, Morganton, and Cherry Log.
Gilmer County Public Safety, as well as the Fannin County Emergency Management Agency, had no reports of any incidents that would explain the source of the noise that was causing a stir on social media.
Fannin and Gilmer counties can now be added to the list of areas that have experienced similar events in previous weeks. Counties across northeast Georgia have reported booms so loud that homes have been shaken following the blast.
Reports have been filed in Jackson, Hall, Habersham and Madison counties. All reports are similar in description, and no source has been found as to the cause of these booms.
North Georgia is not the only area affected by these unexplained happenings. Reports of mysterious booms have come in from across the Southeast all week, which has led many to speculate on the origins.
One popular theory is the use of tannerite by local gun enthusiasts. Tannerite is the brand name of a patented exploding target used in the practice of firearms. When used for target practice, tannerite can create an explosion similar to a stick of dynamite.
“Realistically, a tannerite explosion can be set off that can be heard for 20 to 15 miles, but the volume you’d be setting off would cause so much localized noise that within a mile of where it was set off would be numerous reports to the police,” Chad Johnson, owner of Rock Ridge Training, a firearms training service provider in Blue Ridge, explained of the effects of tannerite.
Johnson went on to say, “If you had a noise that propagated that large, at the fringes it would be nowhere near as loud as the center (localized explosion), but these people are reporting the same relative volume at the fringes – all the way across. So to me that says something is more generalized than localized.”
Believing that tannerite is a good first thought as to a possible explanation of the boom, Johnson says that the science behind tannerite does not fit the scenario that has taken place.
Others in Fannin and Gilmer counties speculated that the cause could have come from military training. Residents are used to military planes running aviation training missions over our mountains, but sonic booms are rare in our area.
“If the military or commercial aviation are flying over populated areas, they are prohibited to break the sound barrier because of sonic booms,” Johnson discussed the possibility of a military cause, “partially because of the annoyance, but secondarily because of the damage to homes that can occur.”
“There are rare times when the military is permitted to do it, when they must for some training activity,” Johnson stated. While it is possible for the military to have granted permission for such training, Johnson felt that it was unlikely due to the time of night.
Lastly, some posed the possibility of an earthquake, and cited the 2.7 magnitude earthquake that took place in Robbinsville, North Carolina, Tuesday, Dec. 26. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website, which tracks earthquakes worldwide, no activity was reported in north Georgia or surrounding areas on the night of Dec. 29.
The USGS website does have a page dedicated to unexplained sounds. The website states, “Earthquake ‘booms’ have been reported for a long time, and they tend to occur more in the Northeastern US and along the East Coast.”
It goes on to say, “No one knows for sure, but scientists speculate that these ‘booms’ are probably small shallow earthquakes that are too small to be recorded, but large enough to be felt by people nearby.”
No one can say with certainty the cause of what residents experienced in our area, but booms, such as the one that took place in Fannin and Gilmer counties, have been reported throughout our country for years and are likely to continue for some time without explanation.
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