Loud ‘booms’ are back; Clayton residents work to solve the mystery

March 4, 2019

The mysterious “booms” are back. This time, in parts of Johnston County, according to many residents who live in the area.

At about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, neighbors in Clayton said they heard a loud boom sound.

“It was a little bit of a weird atmosphere then, boom a loud bang,” said Rocky Hall. “When I mean loud, I mean it took the air out of your chest... it sucked right out of you and then everybody came running out of the houses and stuff.”

People said they heard the boom near the Johnston/Wake county line - the Clayton, Middlesex and Garner areas. Someone else said they heard the boom in Sanford.

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said their phones have been ringing off the hook. They sent deputies out to search for the source of the noise, but they do not have any idea where it came from.

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office said the same.

“We even posted a deputy out in the area, but we were unable to find the source,” a statement said.

But neighbors say it was like anything they’ve ever heard before.

″...it was so loud and the echo went through this whole neighborhood we’re not exactly sure what would’ve been,” said Laurel Hall.

WRAL News reached out to the military bases in the area. So far, Fort Bragg said they didn’t have any training events on Sunday.

According to experts, the mysterious noises, some call them “booms,” being reported across Wake County last month are nothing new.

“These are not a new thing in North Carolina. I think we’ve even had them before scientific instrumentation,” said Jonathan Lees, a geophysicist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

That doesn’t mean Lees, who studies seismology and volcanology, has the answer.

From Fuquay-Varina to Rolesville, residents have reported a loud sound, even vibration.

“All of us hear it. All of us see it, but nobody knows what it is,” said Kay Gallagher.

Gallagher, of Flemming Fields in Fuquay-Varina, has witnessed what the sound does.

She shared photos with WRAL News, saying the vibration of the sound shattered her mirror.

“They’re so loud when they hit - it knocks the lights down from in my closet.”

“We hear it frequently,” said Bob Stewart, who lives nearby.

Stewart is just one of several neighbors who has heard the booms.

“Sometimes it’s like you hear it, and it’s like a big dump truck that dropped the bed,” he said. “It’s almost like a jet breaking the sound barrier or something.”

Other neighbors have guessed they are hearing military exercises or some other kind of explosive.

“It just kinda goes on for a second,” Stewart said.

The simplest solution – that the noises are man-made – is likely the answer, Lees said.

But that doesn’t mean the noise is coming from nearby.

He points out that different atmospheric conditions can cause sound waves to bounce around and travel long distances. On the right nights, a.m. radio transmissions from Chicago have been heard in Raleigh, he said.