For more than a month, Berkeley residents have wondered online about a recurring nighttime rumble that has woken babies, scared pets and set off car alarms.
The sound, which became known on Twitter as #BerkeleyBoom, was heard throughout the city, though it was mostly concentrated in the southern part of the city.
In several cases, the police came out to investigate but were unable to locate the source and found no evidence of foul play. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said Monday there were no calls to the Berkeley 311 service center about the sound. Therefore, its origin remains a mystery.
On Sunday, a Twitter user named LP described the “Biggest#berkeley treeyet. She scared me to death.@berkeley side- seriously - that's allstill 'fireworks'?!”
Heather Hardison added: “I could hear all my neighbors talking about it in a scared voice. What the hell is that?"
Wrote cirus206: "Maybe I don't know what#berkeley treeYeah, but damn, I'd like to find out.
Some compared the sound to a gunshot, while others said it sounded more like a bomb or a grenade, or perhaps just fireworks or "just one firework." One said it sounded "M80-ish... but more shocked."
Many have taken a bewildered attitude online about the phenomenon ("What's so classic about this is we're watching Mary Poppins with our daughter and she's scared of admiral booms!"). Others also described it as "pretty scary" and were not happy with the repeated interruptions.
"Another loud bang, sounds hostile," wrote David Heron Wallace.“Where Berkeley once stood for radicalism, should we now be cool and controlled?
On some nights, the reports were scattered and infrequent, but for at least six nights, many tweets poured in at once and seem to confirm the existence of the remarkable sound. The nights with the most reports analyzed by Berkeleyside were February 26 and March 3, 15, 17, 25 and 29. Most of the incidents occurred between 8 and 10 p.m. There is no discernible pattern as to the days of the week.
Berkeleyside twice reported on the boom, first in26 of February🇧🇷 In that case, calls to a single “loud report,” in police jargon, caused the 911 switchboard lines to light up, dispatchers reported via scanner. Police went to the 2800 block of Acton Street at 8:40 p.m. m., but in the endfind nothing.
Paul Rauber wrote on Twitter: “Kid wanted to know what the big report was now. The Treasure Island bombing at W. Berkeley? i said ask@berkeley side, They will know.
That night, Tajalli Love wrote that the noise sounded like a small bomb explosion or something similar. From Alcatraz Avenue and Sacramento Street, Love added: "The windows shook."
Dan Bostonweeks wrote that he "saw a flash of 55th and St. Paul before the crash."
Two nights later, on February 28, a handful of people thought they had heard it again.
Wrote Barbara Henry on the Berkeleyside Facebook page: “So I hope that whoever or whatever is causing the incredible loud booming sounds in South Berkeley every night this week will be discovered soon. It's not fun.
The next night, a local resident said he thought he had found the cause. Jim Emerson said, also on the Berkeleyside Facebook page: “Explosive mystery solved in South Berkeley. The second night, a loud crash rattled windows, vibrated floorboards, and set off car alarms. This time (maybe it was around 9:30am?) a seemingly homemade orange fireworks rocket soared into the sky and really scared my dog while he went about his nightly business . It seems to have originated near Ashby and Sacramento, although it has been closer to Alcatraz.
On March 3, many locals said they heard the sound for the third time around 9:40 p.m. m.
Berkeley police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said officers responded to a loud call for information that night but found nothing.
The #BerkeleyBoom hashtag appears to have originated in February. On January 26, when Twitter user Domain Awareness wrote: “The great mystery of the #BerkeleyBoom@berkeleyside will get to the bottom of this ASAP."
Since then, at least 70 people have pondered the boom online, sharing theories and information about it on Twitter. The label gained momentum as the hits continued, prompting even those who hadn't heard the sound to weigh in. Wrote Fire Catcher: “This#berkeley treeSounds like a catchy new workout craze like Zumba.”
Some wondered if it might be related to the AC Transit hydrogen filling station at Avenida San Pablo and 47th Street, or some kind of equipment problem at PG&E. But officials have not reported outages or associated issues.
Berkeley's nights were mostly boom-free for most of the next two weeks. Then, on March 15, a series of new reports arrived at SouthBerkeley. And a dozen tweets about the sound appeared in the days that followed.
Wrote Eric Smillie: "I now believe that all noise is a#berkeley tree”, to which Brock Winstead replied: “Wait, I just heard an explosion. Really boom? Booms of competition? Fast growing city?! I need to go to bed." Smillie replied, "How do you know if a mystery boom is the mystery boom? Booms beget booms."
On March 25, last Wednesday, about a dozen people said they heard the sound around 8:20 p.m. Most of these reports were in south Berkeley, but some said they thought they heard them north of downtown, on Hearst and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and on University Avenue at Curtis Street.
"HE'S BACK," wrote one person on Twitter. Another described it as a "big bang next to McGee," adding, "I'm not going out."
Another noted that it was stronger than before, from Ward Street and San Pablo Avenue, but said there was "no visible plume of smoke."
Acting Lt. Joseph Okies of the Berkeley Police Department said officers were dispatched to the area north of San Pablo Park that night but found no signs of foul play.
A slew of additional reports, including close crossings, came in on Sunday March 29, prompting one person on Twitter to wonder if perhaps the sound was "an elaborate plotmake Twitter users reveal their addresses?
One suggested that a phenomenon called “earthquake explosion”, also called Seneca cannons, may be responsible. (To seewhat the USGS has to sayabout that sound.)
The true cause has yet to be confirmed, but some people believe they have seen signs of the boom. In addition to Emerson's March 1 report ("orange firework rocket, apparently homemade"), in one case, firefighters told dispatch that they saw fireworks, in South Berkeley, near Dohr Street, that they believed to be the cause.
Wrote a local resident in mid-March: “Our neighbor list keeps saying these are M100s fired by children, some claim to have seen it.”
One woman said she "saw the flash beforehand." Said another, who also wondered if fireworks might be responsible: "I saw a flash of white light just a second before the #berkeleyboom."
And so the boom remains a mystery, but that hasn't stopped the theories. The sound has even led at least one person to postulate, in what could, without too much difficulty, be heard as a bit of verse, that the boom has a definite rebellious streak.
Blake Jenkins wrote over the weekend on Twitter: “Homemade rockets? Sometimes there is smoke and contrails. So subversive, so#berkeley tree.”
If you ever heard the #berkeley treePlease let us know in the comments what makes this sound so distinctive, and if you have any other ideas as to what might be causing it. What, if anything, can or should be done about it?
The Wall Street Journal joins in on the fun after a thoughtful note for a Berkeley burglar goes viral(25.03.15)
Email spam accident in Berkeley creates community spirit(24.03.15)
Photos: With a little rain comes a rainbow over Berkeley(23.03.15)
A Berkeley memo for the Wall Street Journal crook gets results(19.03.15)
'To the man who has been stealing my Wall Street Journal'(19.03.15)
Get the latest Berkeley news delivered to your inbox withBerkeleyside Free Daily Digest🇧🇷 And be sure to bookmark the Berkeleyside pages atFacebookmiGore🇧🇷 You don't need an account on these sites to view important information.
What is the Berkeley boom? ›
The Berkeley Out-of-Order Machine (BOOM) is a synthesizable and parameterizable open source RV64GC RISC-V core written in the Chisel hardware construction language. While BOOM is primarily ASIC optimized, it is also usable on FPGAs.What is that mysterious booming sound? ›
A skyquake is a phenomenon where a loud booming sound is reported to originate from the sky. The sound may cause noticeable vibration in a building or across a particular area. Those who experience skyquakes typically do not have a clear explanation for what caused them and they are perceived as mysterious.What are the loud booms in San Francisco? ›
People on social media reported hearing "loud explosions." The sound was heard from San Francisco to Sausalito. It turned out that the fireworks were part of a movie shoot on Treasure Island.What are the booms that we keep hearing in the air in the winter? ›
Technically, it is known as a cryoseismic boom. A phenomenon reserved for only the coldest of temperatures and rare for the lower latitudes of the continental United States. The boom sound is created by a cryoseism, which is a mini explosion within the ground caused by the rapid expansion of frozen water.What was the loud boom in Florida today? ›
The suspected cause of the booms, which were reportedly heard at around 5 a.m., was a Boeing X-37B spaceplane returning to Earth after a mission with the United States Space Force, though not confirmed. A news release from Boeing stated that the spaceplane landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:22 a.m.