Early morning boom wakes islanders
By CONNIE MEARS
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
March 14, 2011 · Updated 2:10 PM
Numerous island residents reported being awakened at 4:20 a.m. Thursday, March 10 by a loud boom. Some saw a single flash of light almost simultaneously with the noise that sounded like thunder but was stronger and lasted longer than typical thunder.
A meteorologist with the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the loud noise that woke islanders at 4:20 a.m. today was possibly a positive lightning strike located high in the storm cloud. Carl Cerniglia, Seattle-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service said a strong cold front moving across the area with a line of heavy showers was strong enough to produce a lightning strike.
"Assuming it was lightning, the description provided sounds like a positive lightning bolt (generally stronger) that was generated high within the storm cloud and traveled a long horizontal distance," Cerniglia wrote in an email response. "This type of lightning strike would lengthen the time the thunder would roll on."
The Seattle-Tacoma National Weather Service's Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Ted Buehner, didn't think the incident was related to thunder.
"I discussed your inquiry with those on duty that night/early morning. There was a strong Pacific frontal system moving onshore with winds in the 15 to 25 mph range," he wrote in an email. "No thunderstorms were associated with the front. So perhaps a tree limb got tangled with a power line, tripping a power transformer resulting in a loud 'boom.'"
Puget Sound Energy spokesperson Gretchen Aliabadi said there were no transformer incidents that morning. She said arcs from a transformer could produce a powerful boom, but the sound would be limited to a neighborhood, not the entire island.
A reader emailed that after talking with co-workers determined the sound was heard as "far away as south Silverdale" and possibly Burley.
An update will be posted when more information is available.
Contact Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer Connie Mears at email@example.com or (206) 842-6613.