BY KEN LITTLE
No one seems to have a definitive explanation for the baffling booms that have been heard across sections of Greene County and the region over the past week.
Reports of similar loud noises have been reported across the U.S.
Booms rumbled through parts of Greene County last weekend and again in mid-week. People living elsewhere in the Tri-Cities area also reported hearing the booms.
Some describe the booms as sounding like explosions.
Another boom was reported in the Greeneville area about 6:05 p.m Friday. Greeneville police said they received about 10 calls from citizens after the noise, described by at least one man as sounding like a low rumble.
Police said Friday night they were looking into the possibility that the noise came from a "blasting site" in the Barton Ridge Road area.
Areas of Greene County where the sounds have been heard recently include Chuckey, Afton, Limestone, Mosheim, northern Greene County and the Sunnyside community.
In Greeneville, reports of booms have come from residents of Upland Avenue, York Drive, Fairfield Drive, Buckingham Road, Old Orchard Drive, and in the Oak Hills neighborhood.
"We've gotten a bunch of calls. It's been going on for a few days," Greeneville police Sgt. Shane Matthews said on Thursday.
Greene County Sheriff's Department dispatchers have also received calls from curious citizens over the last week.
One round of booms was heard last Saturday night into Sunday. Others were reported Tuesday and Wednesday.
The cause of the sounds has been the ongoing subject of speculation on social networking sites and in sidewalk conversations among neighbors.
The sometimes-window-rattling booms have been attributed to fireworks, firearms, the mining practice of fracking, meteor fragments entering the atmosphere, blasting at construction sites, sonic booms caused by aircraft, and weather-related phenomena.
An atmospheric phenomenon is very unlikely, said David Hotz, a Morristown-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
"We've had a lot of rain in the area, but we haven't had any thunderstorms in the area for quite some time, so I don't see it being weather-related," Hotz said Friday.
A 2.2 Richter Scale earthquake at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday that was centered near Madisonville, about 45 miles west of Knoxville, would not have had any audible effect in Greene County and this area, Hotz said.
"All I can say for sure is, it's nothing weather-related. It's not earthquake-related," Hotz said.
No military aircraft are based in Greene County, making their point of origin difficult to track down. The flight paths of supersonic jets may sometimes take aircraft over the area.
There are no quarry operations near sections of Greene County where the booms were reported.
Oddly enough, East Tennessee is just one area of the country where loud booms have been reported in the past week.
Other states similarly affected include Massachusetts, Utah and the tri-state area where Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois intersect.
The military did admit it was responsible for the Utah boom heard in the desert in the northern area of that state. But the cause of other booms, including the ones reported in Greene County, remain a mystery.
One website tracking the proliferation of booms is http://www.earthfiles.com/
"At this point, nobody seems to know," said Jeffrey Braun, a physicist at the University of Evansville in Indiana.
"The geologists say it's not in the ground. The Air Force says it's not in the air. The astronomers say it's not from space. So we're running out of options."