The residents of coastal North Carolina are occasionally treated to sequences of booming sounds of unknown origin. The sounds are often energetic enough to rattle windows and doors. A recent sequence occurred in early January 2011 during clear weather with no evidence of local thunder storms. Queries by a local reporter (Colin Hackman of the NBC affiliate WETC in Wilmington, North Carolina, personal communication 2011) seemed to eliminate common anthropogenic sources such as sonic booms or quarry blasts. So the commonly asked question, “What's making these booming sounds?” remained (and remains) unanswered.

This phenomenon is hardly unique to North Carolina...

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