Mysterious Loud Booms

scotto

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Feb 15, 2004
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The Beach Strip
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Had many asking about this.

Mysterious loud booms wake sleepers around 3 a.m.
Not from jet, quake or steel mill
By John Burman
The Hamilton Spectator
BURLINGTON (Apr 28, 2005)
Whatever jolted folks from their beds just after 3 a.m. yesterday is a mystery.

It wasn't an earthquake or a sonic boom. And the bang did not originate with Hamilton's steel mills.

But it did wake people from their sleep and send them out into the streets.

Heidi Lemaire jerked awake in her Beach Boulevard home and thought "some big truck had fallen off the Skyway."

At her sister's place nearby, "people were out on the street wondering what it was."

Lemaire said it was raining at the time but there did not seem to be any thunder.

Another woman who has lived on the Beach Strip for 50 years does not believe the noise came from Stelco.

"I hear bumps and banging all the time over there. This was different."

Ruth Fuller, who also lives on Beach Boulevard, agrees. "When (Stelco) dumps slag it is a rolling boom, sort of like thunder. This was two sharp booms close together."

Earthquakes Canada, part of the federal Department of Natural Resources, says there was no seismic activity affecting the Hamilton-Burlington area yesterday.

But the sensitive equipment did pick up what is believed to be a loud noise at that time.

Seismologist Janet Drysdale said monitoring stations in Stoney Creek and Toronto noted "a couple of little bursts, acoustic bursts or noises of something that showed up on our equipment."

The noise originated above ground, not below it.

The most recent earthquake in our area -- of 23 "events" felt in southern Ontario since the beginning of the year -- was at 2:27 a.m. March 31, centred below Lake Ontario about 45 kilometres east of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

That mild tremor -- a magnitude 2.0 on the Richter scale -- was the fourth in a series of mild quakes that began on March 28.

The Geological Survey of Canada says magnitude 1 to 3 tremors are recorded on local seismographs, but generally not felt. Magnitude 3 to 4 tremors are often felt, but there's no damage, while 5s are felt widely, with slight damage near the epicentre. Major quakes begin at 7.

The scale continues to grow in magnitude to 9, which is considered a rare great earthquake with major damage over a large region. A 9 hit Indonesia last December, causing a tsunami that claimed more than 170,000 lives in southern Asia, most of them in Indonesia.

Dofasco spokesman Bill Gair said the steelmaker's operations and environmental staff reported nothing unusual at 3 a.m.

Stelco spokesperson Helen Reeves also reported nothing out of the ordinary.

The two loud booms shook the Halton police station in downtown Burlington and lit up the switchboard.

Acting Halton police Inspector Joe Barker said there were no reports of explosions in the area, just a burst of calls from sleepy citizens wanting information.

Hamilton police had no reported incidents to explain the noises either.

The two booms came within seconds of each other. Those who heard them, from Ancaster to the Guelph Line and Lakeshore Road area of Burlington, say each sounded like a bomb.

Some people who called The Spectator said they felt what they thought was a vibration. Others, like Donna Fritz of Burlington, could recall only the sound.

Transport Canada does not track reports of sonic booms, caused by aircraft breaking the sound barrier, and has no reports of transportation-related incidents that would have made that kind of noise.

Nav Canada, which provides weather and navigation information for aircraft and receives reports of flight activity which causes sonic booms, reported nothing of note.

jburman@thespec.com

905-526-2469
 
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