Sonic Boom Startles California Residents on Edge After Earthquakes

Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 12:14 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A sonic boom in the Los Angeles area that led to concerned residents calling emergency agencies in Orange County was caused by the U.S. Navy, the military branch confirmed Wednesday.

Some feared that the area, including Huntington Beach, was experiencing another earthquake, but county officials quickly ruled that out.

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"We reached out to Caltech, and they said it's not seismic; it's sonic-related,'' Orange County Assistant Emergency Manager Vicki Osborn told KNBC-TV.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the Navy said one of its aircraft flew faster than the speed of sound as part of a naval exercise with the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier about 50 miles off the California coast.

Southern Californians are still jittery over a series of earthquakes and aftershocks that rattled the area in March. On March 28, Orange County was the epicenter of a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, which was accompanied by roughly two dozen aftershocks.

A week earlier, a magnitude 4.4 earthquake centered near downtown Los Angeles shook the same area as well, but caused little damage.

Twenty years ago, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake caused $42 billion in damage to the Los Angeles area, the costliest natural disaster in the country after Hurricane Katrina.

Navy Cmdr. Kevin Stephens told the LA Times that "pretty much all of San Diego felt" a similar sonic boom from an exercise off its coast in 2012.

The sonic boom shook up some who went to social media to talk about the boom or explain it.

Scott Conner of Malibu told the LA Times that the shaking was so intense that it nearly tipped over one of his computer monitors till he caught it.

"I thought it was the biggest quake I've ever been in," he said.

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