Early morning boom wakes islanders

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.


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