Just Googling the words “unexplained boom” will lead an amateur sleuth toward a dozen different websites and articles, on sites primarily dealing with unexplained phenomena, that detail the many instances in which residents in communities across the globe report loud noises waking them or startling them during the day and night.
Block Islanders — some Block Islanders — experienced just such an unexplained boom in the early morning hours of Friday, March 1. Several people reported the noise and talked about how it shook their houses, causing some to get up to see if something had exploded right inside.
Police dispatch told The Block Island Times later that same day that they had received some phone calls, but a cruise around the island showed no damages and no injuries had been reported. The boom was reported at 4:21 a.m. Friday.
A posting on The Block Island Times Facebook page, as well as other social media sites, indicated that more than a few people had heard the noise, which has yet to be explained. The explanations were mostly whimsical.
“Must have been the General firing off another cannon ball,” someone posted, referencing the boat docked in the Great Salt Pond that used to salute sunset with a cannon blast.
“It was legit!” said another. Still another, in this hyper-political world, said the noise was the sound of “liberals waking up finely realized (sic) what a great president we have.” This posting began a vigorous debate that had nothing to do with the boom.
“I wonder if that’s what woke me up,” still another asked.
Given that The Times’s original post on Facebook rounded the time out of the event at 4:20 a.m., someone posted “hmmm, yes, well 4:20 and all….” 420 has become common shorthand for the act of smoking marijuana. Another simply said, “Taco night.”
General consensus, if wholly unscientific, relegated the cause to a possible sonic boom.
The site mysterybooms.com records a wide variety of possible causes, from the probable to the perhaps never-to-be-proved:
“Periodically, with the prevalence of ‘mystery boom’ reports that appear in the media, a number of theories have been offered as explanations for the phenomenon. Among these, earthquakes and similar seismic events such as frost quakes remain among the more popular theories that involve natural phenomena.”
“Among their possible causes, manmade sources behind some of the phenomena have also been suggested. For instance, sonic booms resulting from various kinds of aircraft have also been proposed… Specifically, ‘pulse detonation engines’ employed by various top secret military aircraft were proposed… Other theories for the sounds have included meteorites, or even a Russian satellite falling to Earth.”
The website singularfortean.com, which describes itself as “investigating the unusual,” links to a WJAR TV report from Feb. 2, 2019, in which residents in Cranston reported waking up to a loud noise that lasted minutes, with one resident describing the situation as “very strange.”