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March 19 rumblings in South Jersey, along the coast in Delaware and in Virginia result of sonic booms from military jets and are thus no longer a mystery. The loud rumbling noises were created by military jets flying from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland and breaking the sound barrier over an offshore area called the “Racetrack”. This is at least what officials want us to believe.

Initial reports of loud noises and windows rattling in the region March 19 could neither be linked to an earthquake nor to military training from nearby bases.

Jets typically are not allowed to break the sound barrier over inhabited region except in a defined air space, nicknamed “The Racetrack,” which is controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense and runs from Ocean City, Md., to Atlantic City.

As already introduced in previous posts, several factors can influence sonic booms: weight, size, and shape of the aircraft or vehicle, its altitude, attitude and flight path, and weather or atmospheric conditions. The distance it travels depends on the altitude of the jets, which results in a “boom carpet” — equivalent to one mile for each 1,000 feet of altitude. Colder weather allows the sound waves to travel farther in shorter amounts of time and consequently, the likelihood of feeling the supersonic effects are higher from November to April. The distance of the waves traveling acts a bit the way thunder does. It travels as sound waves and the wind speed and direction can carry it farther out.

The reason why sonic booms are not registered on equipment set to pick up seismic activity is because those instruments are farther underground. They do not put much energy into the ground and so the energy is not transferred into detectable waves for the instruments.

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