No big bang theory after mysterious noise rattles Nanaimo region

By Dominic Abassi
July 17, 2018 - 5:22pm Updated: July 17, 2018 - 7:22pm

People all over the Nanaimo region are trying to figure out what caused a loud bang heard from one end of the city to another on Tuesday

NANAIMO — There's a long list of things it wasn't, but no one can seem to figure out what it was.

A loud bang, described as an intensely close clap of thunder, was heard across the Nanaimo region Tuesday around 11:30 a.m. Hundreds of people reported hearing it, covering Nanoose to Hammond Bay to College Heights.

"Heard it and felt it near Lantzville," Jamie Penner said on Twitter, noting it was unlike the sound of blasting coming from his area in recent months. "It sounded like someone opening a big sliding door in an apartment above you."

"For me it was like a loud and quick thunder sound!," Donald Louch said.

"It was so loud!! My poor dog ran under the bed from the living room. I live in the Townsite area. Clear skies, so I knew it wasn’t thunder," Angela Gasson told NanaimoNewsNOW.

Earthquakes Canada said there was some seismic activity in the region around that time, however it didn't have the characteristics of a local quake. "Definitely something has been recorded but it doesn't look like an earthquake," a representative said.

It must have been a jet flying out of the Comox air base, right? Nope.

A spokesperson for 19 Wing Comox said they did not have planes in the air or operations planned for that time Tuesday morning. The same response from CFMETR, the maritime test facility in Nanoose Bay: no operations, American, international or otherwise on the schedule.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue said they were not called to any fires or explosions. Nanaimo RCMP said they received several calls about the noise. Dispatchers touched base with BC Hydro, Fortis, Telus, Shaw, and the Department of National Defence and received the same answer: it wasn't us.

Many people speculated the boom was blasting related to numerous active construction sites in the region.

However, one developer told NanaimoNewsNOW it's unlikely normal construction site blasting would have reverberated across the region the way it was described by people Tuesday morning.

The City of Nanaimo, District of Lantzville and Regional District of Nanaimo said they were not aware of any scheduled blasts or explosions beyond normal construction work. The provincial Ministries of Forests, Mining and Transportation had no official cause on the books, although several ministry staff in the region reported hearing the noise.

John Gregson, with Nanaimo construction giant Copcan Civil, said he heard the blast and confirmed it was not related to any of his operations. He said it did however sound like blasting possibly related to forestry operations in the bush. "In the right circumstances the noise can travel a long way," Gregson said. "It sounded like it came from behind Mount Benson."

Perhaps the thunderous noise was some sort of space activity?

Dr. Gregory Arkos, of Vancouver Island University's department of physics, engineering and astronomy, said he can't be sure, but it's not out of the question.

"It could have been a meteor or bolide passing by overhead and breaking the sound barrier, a lot like the Russian Chelyabinsk event of a couple of years ago. But without more data it's hard to say for certain," Arkos said. "Part of the problem may be it might have been heard over a wide area, which could mean the actual event occurred some distance away from Nanaimo."

With no clear answers to the question seemingly plaguing the entire mid-island region on Tuesday, the topic was ripe for speculation.

The top two theories from Nanaimo's leading Facebook experts: Russia or aliens.


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On Twitter: @domabassi

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