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Unexplained boom heard along Alabama coast

Unexplained booms aren’t limited to central and north Alabama: Residents along the Alabama Gulf Coast reported hearing one Thursday morning, with some saying it was strong enough to make their Christmas ornaments sway.

At about 9:15 a.m. a post on an Orange Beach community Facebook page, the OBA Community Website, mentioned a “strong rumble of the earth” and asked who else had heard or felt it. Dozens of replies poured in from Gulf Shores, Ono Island, Perdido Key, Elberta, the Fort Morgan peninsula, and as far north as Fairhope and Foley.

Some compared it to thunder, while others said it had rattled their windows or even “sounded like something blew up and landed on my house.”

There likewise was a range of opinions on whether it could be attributed to a familiar and friendly source, the Blue Angels precision flight team flying out of Naval Air Station Pensacola. Some said they’d simply assumed it was a sonic boom, while others commented that they were familiar with sonic booms and this felt different.

Grant Brown, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Director for the city of Gulf Shores, said the phenomenon had only generated a couple of calls to the city police department, asking if an earthquake or explosion had occurred. Neither appeared to be the case. The city’s fire chief had confirmed hearing a rumble, he said.

Brown said that the Blue Angels were practicing, and their flights sometimes did take them on routes parallel to the coast.

“Chances are that’s what people are hearing,” he said. “That’s an educated, unsubstantiated guess.”