Mystery Flash and Big Boom Rattles Virginia
Editor's Note: On Tuesday, astronomers agreed that this event was most likely caused by a natural meteor. Click here to read the latest account.
A mysterious flash of light and loud boom occurred over the skies of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va., on Sunday night, but just what caused the phenomenon is still unknown.
Calls from local residents to 911 began coming in at around 9:45 p.m. EDT, with some people reporting their doors and windows rattled when the boom went off, according to reports from WVEC-TV.
Similar reports in the past often have turned out to involve meteors, which can explode in the atmosphere to create a loud noise and bright flash of light that streaks across the sky. However, often times the source of events like this are not determined.
In a recent scientific first, meteorite fragments of an asteroid that was spotted in space before it exploded over the African desert in October were recently recovered and examined by scientists.
The jury is still out as to what caused Sunday's event.
Local National Weather Service meteorologists have been in touch with the U.S. Navy, Air Force and NASA, but have not heard back these sources and don't know whether they are actively investigating the cause of the boom, said Wakefield NWS forecaster Jeff Lewitsky.
"The only thing we know for sure at this point is that it wasn't meteorologically related," Lewitsky told SPACE.com.
Lewitsky said meteorologists have looked back at their radar and lightning strike data during the time period and didn't find anything that could explain the event. He also said they had received no more reports on the incident and no photos of the light streak have come in.
Officials at Norfolk International Airport had received reports of the light and explosion, but hadn't observed anything out of the ordinary at the airport, according to WVEC-TV.
The National Weather Service told WVEC-TV that the reports of the light and the bang were coming in from Maryland to North Carolina.
The National Weather Service released a statement at 11:17 p.m. Sunday:
"Numerous reports have been called in to this office and into local law enforcement concerning what appeared to be flashes of light in the sky over the Suffolk/Virginia Beach area. We are confident in saying that this was not lightning ... and have been in contact with military and other government agencies to determine the cause. So far ... we have not seen or heard of any damage from this and will continue to inquire as to the cause."
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