A 'booming' start to 2022 was felt in the Pittsburgh Region on New Year's Day after officials from the National Weather Service (NWS) believe a meteor exploded in the atmosphere.
Residents across suburban Pittsburgh heard a loud boom and what felt like an earthquake on Saturday around lunchtime. Allegheny County officials reported an influx of 911 calls about the disturbance.
Allegheny County 9-1-1 has received reports of a loud boom, shaking in the South Hills and other reports. We have confirmed that there was no seismic activity and no thunder/lightning. At this point, we have no explanation for the reports, but agencies are continuing to look.— Allegheny County (@Allegheny_Co) January 1, 2022
NWS isn't entirely sure what caused the rumble but said data shows a flash in the area that wasn't lighting at 1126 ET. The timing of the flash also lines up to residents calling 911 about a big bang.
"The loud explosion heard over SW PA earlier may have been a meteor explosion. This GOES-16 GLM Total Optical Energy product shows a flash that was not associated with lightning. No confirmation, but this is the most likely explanation at this time," NWS tweeted.
The loud explosion heard over SW PA earlier may have been a meteor explosion. This GOES-16 GLM Total Optical Energy product shows a flash that was not associated with lightning. No confirmation, but this is the most likely explanation at this time. pic.twitter.com/ArtHCEA1RT— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) January 1, 2022
Local news KDKA's Ray Petelin noted satellite lightning maps also picked up a tiny streak around 1130ET.
Satellite lightning detection can pick up on meteors. There was a quick event at 11:26am (tiny, green blip), which lines to with the timing of this morning's "boom". This is just an idea, while other possibilities are being researched. pic.twitter.com/XDhCPbHs41— Ray Petelin (@RayPetelinWx) January 1, 2022
Allegheny County officials ruled out an earthquake and agreed with NWS that a meteor likely exploded over Pittsburgh.
Resident Jill Tarasi, 42, of Hampton Township, about a 20-minute drive to Pittsburg, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "It sounded like a house was exploding." She was working on her laptop at the time of the incident. She said, "I have friends from all over saying they heard it, too."