Sonic boom in southeastern Massachusetts stemmed from meteor fireball explosion

Sarah Doiron

Residents of southeastern Massachusetts recently reported an unusual eruption of noise and shaking that rattled several neighborhoods.

Witnesses described a bright flash, loud boom and violent shaking on Oct. 20. Video from a dash cam shows a quick, bright flash in the sky in the New Bedford area around 8:23 p.m.

“I had just gone out to take my dog out,” Chris Lawrence of Fairhaven recalled. “I just sat down on the steps and there was a huge flash, then right after that a huge boom. I thought the house next door blew up… it was a huge boom.”

After learning of the reports, the Pinpoint Weather Team believes a meteor exploded in the sky, which created a sonic boom that shook the homes and nerves of people throughout Acushnet, Fairhaven and New Bedford.

“It rattled my house,” Fairhaven resident Channing Correia said. “It felt like it went into the ground and went into the ground. It rattled my whole house. My husband woke up off the couch. My dog was startled. I was like, ‘What was that?’ An accident or an explosion?”

Two fireballs were reported at the time of the sonic boom over New England, according to the American Meteor Society’s Fireball Logs. Another fireball was also reported over Rhode Island the following night. That fireball could possibly be from pieces left by Halley’s Comet in one of its passes through Earth’s orbit.