National Weather Service Sheds Light on Cause of Big Boom

FEBRUARY 10, 2006 -- We now have a better idea of what caused that big boom that shook homes up and down the Southeastern North Carolina coastline back in December.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Wilmington say their radar detected chaff offshore. Chaff is a material used by the military to jam radars. The radar was in a more sensitive mode used on fair weather days when the boom sounded. It showed streaks that were not associated with any weather.

"We've seen it before. We don't get confirmation 'yay' or 'nay' from the military about it, but it certainly did look like chaff on the radar," says Tom Matheson with the National Weather Service.

A spokesperson from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base says they had jets in the area at the time of the boom, and they're authorized to fly supersonic as long as they're above 10,000 feet and 15 miles offshore. But sometimes that boom can travel to shore.

Reported by Mark Avery