Loud booms heard across southern Arizona may be from Luke AFB - Tucson News Now

Loud booms heard across southern Arizona may be from Luke AFB

An F-15SG from the 428th Fighter Squadron. (Source: Luke Air Force Base) An F-15SG from the 428th Fighter Squadron. (Source: Luke Air Force Base)
Tuesday night’s rumbles picked up by UA seismic station showing the activity at 8:12 pm. (Graph Source: Department of Geosciences/University of Arizona) Tuesday night’s rumbles picked up by UA seismic station showing the activity at 8:12 pm. (Graph Source: Department of Geosciences/University of Arizona)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The mystery may have been solved to what is causing loud booms felt and heard across southern Arizona, from Oro Valley to Picture Rocks, and Douglas to Nogales. 

Tucson News Now has been inundated with calls, e-mails, and Facebook messages from hundreds of people who say they've been feeling rumbles and hearing loud explosion-type sounds.

According to Luke Air Force Base, it may have been them.

Luke AFB said it is hosting a training exercise with Singapore and the result is more planes at the base and Barry M. Goldwater Range complex.

The exercises began Monday, Nov. 27 and will run until Monday, Dec. 11.

"The areas around Luke and the BMGR may experience more noise than usual as a result of the increased air activity and types of aircraft involved," the base said in a news release. "Aircrafts involved will include F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15E Strike Eagle and Heron 1UAS. There will be an increased military presence with military movements along Highway 85 south of Gila Bend as military position themselves within the Barry M. Goldwater range."

We contacted Davis-Monthan  and they said the sounds are not coming from the base.

"These noises are not originating from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base," a spokesperson said. "DMAFB's explosive ordnance disposal team has not disposed of ordnance within the past two days, and there are currently no scheduled detonations for the rest of the week. There have been no aircraft departures consistent with these noises."

Two prominent events have happened two days in a row. Tuesday night, Nov. 28 people reported hearing and feeling something between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. There was another just after 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29. 

Some report the windows on their homes rattled so badly they thought they were going to break. Jim Hughson wrote, "We heard it on the NE side of town. Sounded like someone throwing boulders in a huge dumpster. Crazy." 

Pamela Sutherland Monke wrote, "We are out by Casino Del Sol, it was loud and it shook the house, rattled windows and everything hanging on the walls. It was enough to make the ground shake and frighten our dog."

A All Red wrote, "Loud booms at about 3:15 p.m.: This is the 2nd time in 2 weeks I have a heard a series of loud booms/rumbles that sound like some kind of explosions. Doesn't sound like typical sonic boom, but has a similar intensity, like thunderous, but not quite thunder. One particularly loud boom seemed to have a vibration in my feet. Heard and felt in St David, Benson, Tombstone, Cascabel via our local FB page reports." 

But what could they be? Sonic booms? Earthquakes? Mining operations? We've made calls to military installations to see if they were sonic booms but no aircraft reported conducting one. We have also checked with Asarco Mine and are waiting to hear back. 

Tuesday night's activity was strong enough to be picked up by the seismic monitoring station at the University of Arizona Geosciences Department. Assistant Professor Eric Kiser says it happened between 8:11 p.m. and 8:12 p.m., "The seismology group looked at that waveforms today, but it is difficult to determine what the source is using one seismic station. Generally, we would expect a sonic boom to not be as impulsive as this signal.  A mine blast could be the source, but I would be surprised if they were blasting that late. It would be useful to compare this seismic record to the seismic record next time an event is felt."

If you experienced any of these events, please leave a comment on Dan Marries’ Facebook page so he can forward your reports to the Geosciences Department in an effort to try and figure out what's causing this mysterious phenomenon. 

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