Meteor likely cause of boom heard across Wasatch Front, experts say

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SALT LAKE CITY — The cause of a large boom that was heard across the Wasatch Front on Saturday has not yet been determined, but all signs seem to point to the heavens above.

Early reports of a large boom began about 8:32 a.m. on Saturday, resulting a flurry of social media posts. Many uploaded videos of home cameras that captured the loud boom, heard throughout most of the Wasatch Front, northern Utah and even parts of southern Idaho.

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations quickly confirmed that the boom was not an earthquake. Soon after, both Gov. Spencer Cox and the Utah National Guard tweeted that the boom was not related to any military installations, a frequent cause of sonic booms.

All the focus then turned to the galaxies.

Several people reported seeing a burning object in the sky, thinking the boom may be related to a meteor. The National Weather Service’s Salt Lake City office bolstered the meteor theory when flashes appeared on its maps that weren’t caused by a thunderstorm.

Videos emerged of a meteor shooting across the morning sky in Roy just before the boom.

“We’ve now got video confirmation of the meteor heard across northern Utah, southern Idaho and elsewhere this morning,” the weather service tweeted.

The timing aligns with the Perseid Meteor Showers, which peaked on Friday, according to Space.com. The website notes that the meteor show is caused by ice and rock from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last flew by the Earth in 1992. It has produced as many as 150 to 200 visible meteors an hour in the past.

Bolstering the meteor theory for this morning’s #boom in #Utah, the two reddish pixels shown over Davis and Morgan counties are from the GOES-17 Lightning Mapper, but not associated with evidence of thunderstorm activity in satellite or radar. Likely the meteor trail/flash #utwxpic.twitter.com/qRO2Rsfca7

— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) August 13, 2022

KSL-TV spoke with Patrick Wiggins. He has an asteroid named after him, he worked at the local planetarium for decades, and now serves as a volunteer for NASA.

He said it’s not rare to see a meteor streaking over Utah, but it is rare to hear a meteor.

If you heard it, like many people did today, that means it was close, and chances are there are fragments of that meteor somewhere in Utah, he said. Wiggins’ advice is to look around your home, or wherever else you go.

“Some of them are more expensive than gold,” Wiggins said. “Little did you know you just walked past a $50,000 rock.”

Contributing: Carter Williams, Michael Locklear, KSL-TV

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Ashley Fredde covers human services, minority communities and women’s issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She’s a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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