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Big Boom, Flash Likely Exploding Meteor, Say Oregon Scientists; Video

Published 03/08/2018 at 6:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Big Boom, Flash Likely Exploding Meteor, Say Oregon Scientists; Video

(Portland, Oregon) – One big boom and one really enormous flash. All that happened about 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday, mostly reported in the western Washington area but with sizable numbers of reports in the Portland area, down into Salem and one possibly even from the southern Oregon coast. (Above: meteor over north Oregon coast several years ago).

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A flurry of social media posts were followed by varied conjectures of military aircraft (which creates such booms about twice a year in Oregon), conspiracy theories about submarine warfare to some kind of meteor or space debris.

It turns out the likely culprit is indeed a meteor.

Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland’s OMSI, - alongside plenty of meteorologists - are all pointing to what is a bolide meteor: essentially a fireball that explodes.

“According to the National Weather Service in Seattle, if the flash was a bolide meteor, it might have hit the atmosphere an angle of about 45 degrees relative to those who heard a sonic boom,” Todd said. “It can take 1 1/2 to 4 mins for the boom to reach ground after the explosion.”

Video below courtesy KATU.

Todd said the boom appears to have been heard at least in Portland, but the flashes were only visible north of the metro area.

Videos around the region have surfaced, showing a brief series of bright flashes that lit up the night sky. One was recorded by a sheriff’s office surveillance video in western Washington.

“In my opinion, based off of the video, with the flashes and the sonic boom associated, this likely a bolide,” Todd said. “It appears the bolide came in at a low angle and just broke up above the clouds which creates the flashes. Few seconds later, follows by the sonic boom.”

Oregon Coast Beach Connection’s Facebook page had one sighting claim on the southern coast. Oregon Coast Lodgings for this - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours.

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