Mysterious booms continue to shake houses in west Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES A new round of booming noises has disturbed residents of west Port Angeles and Joyce, who say the mysterious sounds shake their homes.

The rattling noises were reported at about 12:21 p.m. Wednesday, almost exactly two weeks after the last round of booms heard on the afternoon of Feb. 25, and again at about
9:35 a.m. Thursday.

"It sounded like it came from the direction of the Strait [of Juan de Fuca]," said Jim Haugen, who lives on Milwaukee Drive in west Port Angeles near the bluffs and reported the Wednesday boom.

"We were in the house, heard the boom and the house vibrated," he said.

"It sounds similar to a sonic boom, [but there were] no planes in the area," he added.

Haugen said he has been hearing and feeling the booming vibrations at his home for 13 years.

On Thursday morning, reports of booms from Joyce to downtown Port Angeles were made on Facebook.

Speculation on the cause of the booms has included naval military exercises in the Strait, thunder, sonic booms from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island aircraft, hunters and small, shallow earthquakes.

"We don't know what caused the booms that people have heard, but I can tell you they were not earthquakes," said Leslie C. Gordon, geologist and spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey for the Pacific Northwest.

Gordon said she checked with the University of Washington, which runs the seismic network in the Pacific Northwest, to see if there had been any seismic activity in the area.

"It is clear that the 'boom' was transmitted through air, as there was very little coupling with the ground. We looked but could not see anything on our seismograms," UW researchers replied.

Gordon and her colleagues speculated that the sounds were sonic booms caused by military jets.

"I am only guessing based on similar incidents we have had in California," she said.

If it was a sonic boom, it wasn't from a U.S. Navy aircraft, said Anthony Popp, spokesman for NAS Whidbey Island.

The Navy strictly adheres to aviation rules on supersonic flight operations, which restricts supersonic operations to designated areas or over the ocean, more than 30 miles offshore, Popp said.

Spokespeople with other military units in the region have said they have had no activity in the Strait during the times the booms were heard.

Those include Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, which operates a demolition range on Bentinck Island northwest of Port Angeles on the Canadian side of the Strait, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, which provides a demolition team for military training ordnance that occasionally washes up on beaches.