United Kingdom

Sonic boom: Dorset and Somerset reports big explosion – what is it?

A large bang has been reported in parts of Weymouth, Dorset and Somerset with people claiming houses were shaking. Reports have surfaced across social media claiming it could be anything from a controlled Royal Navy explosion to an earthquake. Many people reported hearing the loud thunderclap, with others claiming it shook their homes.

Reports of an explosion surfaced on social media today. 

Residents across Dorset, Weymouth, Somerset and surrounding areas reported a tremor shook the ground after a loud bang was heard.

Many people have suggested it was an earthquake, however, others believe it was an explosion or sonic boom.

One person claimed it was a controlled explosion conducted by the Royal Navy.

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One Twitter user wrote: “Massive bang over #Dorchester around 20 minutes ago. Any sound nerds know what it is? #Dorset.”

Another added: “Heard on #Portland and in #Weymouth. Lasted about 10 seconds. Any ideas?”

One person wrote: “Out for a walk stood on top of a hill in Somerset, huge sonic boom, no sign or noise of a jet. RAF?”

Another said: “Heard it here in Portland, Dorset. Yeah, I reckon sonic boom, but no one seems to know.”

One social media user tweeted: “Thought that was an earthquake (in Dorset) just before 3pm. Suggestions are a sonic boom or meteorite breaking up.”

One person claimed it was from a controlled explosion saying: “A controlled explosion was carried out by the Royal Navy EOD this afternoon on the beach between Lyme Regis and Charmouth after a member of the public reported finding a suspicious-looking item on the beach. The item was found to be a phosphorus flare”.

Another wrote: “Shook all the widows and doors in our house (Somerset). Guessing sonic boom but not heard one like that before despite having lived under Concords flight path in the past.”

One social media user added: “People on Twitter suggesting a sonic boom? Made the house shake in Westham, Weymouth”.

Another person tweeted: “Do we know what that large bang was yet? #meteor #SonicBoom”

One person said: “I heard that a few ours back in my garden sounded like a sonic boom”.

The sound heard on the ground as a “sonic boom” is the sudden onset and release of pressure after the buildup by the shock wave or “peak overpressure.”

The change in pressure caused by sonic boom is only a few pounds per square foot, which is equivalent to the same pressure change experienced on an elevator as it descends two or three floors, but in a much shorter time period.

This is the magnitude of this peak overpressure which describes a sonic boom.

There are two types of sonic booms: N-waves and U-waves.

The former is generated from steady flight conditions and its pressure waves are shaped like the letter N.

These waves have a front shock to a positive peak overpressure, caused by a linear decrease in pressure until the rear shock returns to ambient pressure.

The latter U-waves are focused booms which are generated at the front and rear, shaped like the letter U.

These are created when the peak overpressure are increased compared to N-waves.

The strongest sonic boom ever recorded was 7,000 Pascal (144 pounds per square feet).

It did not cause injury to the researchers who were exposed to it.

The boom was produced by an F4 flying just above the speed of sound at an altitude of 30m.

In recent tests, the maximum boom measured during more realistic flight conditions was 1,010 Pascal (21 pounds per square feet).

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