Southern Utah experiences boom, boom, booms

Activity registered from 11 a.m. to about 1 p.m. on the University of Utah seismograph at the Zion National Park seismic station, Utah, Nov. 20, 2014 | Image courtesy of the U of U Seismograph Stations, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Theories are plentiful regarding what may be generating recurring loud booms that have been shaking buildings and rattling windows over the past week or so in Southern Utah, but the most likely explanation is training exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

The University of Utah seismology station at Zion National Park detected considerable activity Thursday between about 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., as pictured in the image accompanying this report. The activity shown is not an earthquake, research seismologist Katherine Whidden said. Similar bursts of activity appear on the seismology graphs for recent days.

“We see a signal on the seismic station at Zion National Park,” Whidden said, “but we don’t know what it is.”

From Nov. 7-21, Nellis is conducting Green Flag-West training exercises, according to its website, in which aircraft and crews fly from Nellis AFB, Nevada, in support of ground combat training at Fort Irwin in Barstow, California.

Green Flag-West is a realistic air-land integration combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies and is primarily conducted in conjunction with U.S. Army Combat Training Center exercises at Ft. Irwin, California. It is a Close Air Support and Joint exercise administered by the US Air Force Air Warfare Center and Nellis AFB through the 549th Combat Training Squadron.

Although officials contacted at the Air Force Base have not confirmed that the booms experienced in Southern Utah are generated from Nellis, it seems the most likely explanation.

If you actually look at the huge geographic footprint in which those explosions are being heard, Washington County Administrator Dean Cox said, there’s only one explanation in his mind, and that’s sonic booms from Nellis.

“… it’s the only thing that could cover that kind of a footprint, geographically,” Cox said. “I’ve been a pilot for 40 years, and I’m confident that it’s a sonic boom.”

A Green Flag exercise described in a 2012 fact sheet release issued by Nellis Air Force Base gives an idea of what the exercises underway may involve.  It stated:

A typical Green Flag exercise involves two multi-role fighter and/or bomber squadrons (F-15Es, F-16s, F/A-18s, A-10s, B-1s, B-52s, etc.), unmanned aircraft (MQ-1, MQ-9, Shadow, Raven), electronic warfare aircraft (EC-130s, EP-3s), and aerial refueling aircraft (KC-130s, KC-135s, and KC-10s). Additionally, USAF command and control assets consisting of E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and the E-8C Joint Stars (JSTARS) play a significant role in the exercise by using their unique capabilities to monitor and support many aspects of both air and ground force maneuvers.

During exercise execution, Green Flag staff members direct, monitor, and instruct visiting units in the conduct of air operations in support of ground forces. To aid in this endeavor, the 549th CTS maintains a cadre of current and qualified air-to-ground experts who fly with visiting squadrons during most exercises. When not actively flying in the exercises, the same cadre provide exercise oversight and ensure the highest level of integration between air and ground forces.

Key to the GFW staff’s oversight of the exercise is the Individual Combat Aircrew Display Systems. ICADS is the world’s most sophisticated tracking system for combat training exercises and allows commanders, safety observers, and exercise directors to monitor the mission in real-time.

On average, all four military services, including the guard and reserve components, participate in two Green Flag exercises each year. Air forces of other countries participate in one or more designated coalition exercises annually. Green Flag exercises provide critical joint training for approximately 75,000 joint and coalition personnel per year, including 3,000 sorties, 6,000 flight hours, and the expenditure of over 700,000 pounds of live and training ordnance.

During Red Flag Exercises at Nellis in 2012, 125 aircraft were scheduled to depart Nellis twice a day for high-intensity air-to-air combat exercises, resulting in bursts of booms and disturbances felt in Southern Utah during those take-off periods.  Similar disturbances are experienced during other exercises.

St. George News contacted Cedar City Corporation – they weren’t aware of anything on their part.

Forthcoming Green Flag Exercises at Nellis in 2015 are scheduled as follows: Jan. 18-Feb. 1; Feb. 20 to March 6; March 20 to April 3; April 24 to May 8; May 29 to June 12; July 17-31; Aug. 14-26; Sept. 11-25

Red Flag Exercises, high-intensity air-to-air combat exercises, are next scheduled to run in 2015 from Jan. 26-Feb. 13; March 2-13; July 13-31; and Aug. 17-28.

Minimal blasting has occurred in the St. George Area recently but is not likely to account for the notable booms that have been heard, Air Quality Manager Bill Swensen said. The only blasting permit out right now, Cox said, is for the area out by the landfill, and no calls have been made from the unincorporated areas dispatch, as required, for blasting.

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Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

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  • Really??? November 20, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I have to disagree completely with your conclusion. I lived near Nellis AFB for 13+yrs and it never sounded like what I’ve been hearing in Washington. Especially if they are training at Irwin Naval base. I also lived 30 miles sout of Barstow and never heard that there eithe. Sonic booms are heard pretty close to where the aircrafts are flying. And of course they aren’t earthquakes. I hope you can come up with a better answer than what the website says. Thank you though for acknowledging the booms tho.

    • kev November 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      You realize that Nellis is where they take off and land, refuel etc? The practice bombing and exercises are done out in the desert.

    • EnigmaSeeker November 20, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      here’s your answers! Share!

    • Just so you know November 20, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      There is no such things as “Irwin Naval base” There’s a Fort Irwin, National Training Center (NTC) Fort Irwin is a good 40 miles away from Barstow (I live just outside of Barstow). I hear a lot of Sonic booms here. On some days up to 12-14,(usually 4-5) some of these are not small ones. They can scare the heck out of you.

    • Rachel November 21, 2014 at 8:47 am

      We lived in Gunlock for a while and the fighter planes would buzz the houses in the canyon. You absolutely can hear their training exercises here.

    • EnigmaSeeker November 21, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Have you heard of the Mystery Boom Phenomenon?? Simply go to youtube and type in the words “Mystery Booms” That might be what caused some of the Booms.

  • laytonian November 20, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    OR… Hill AFB was doing last summer at 11am and 1pm: exploding old bombs.

  • troller November 20, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I have actually heard these booms on a smaller scale for years. I have heard many people say, It is the gypsum mine or Nevada test site. I know iam not the only one who has heard these booms for as long as I have. I noticed in the past, You can only hear them if it is really quiet and no one is talking…

  • Mike November 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Maybe it’s time to really investigate. I wonder how the PTSD population feels about it.

  • Debbie November 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Wow, I hope it’s not an earthquake one time, cuz I would just consider it another booming. I hear them all day everyday. They seem to be getting louder.

    • Nathan Cowlishaw November 21, 2014 at 6:26 am

      I hear them every day and under the ground like the consistency of underground explosions. One happened late last night around 9 PM.

  • Ruth November 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Just heard another at about 6:20 and now @ 6:26 PM. Hmmmmmm?

  • sparky November 20, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    sound of freedom, been happening for years

  • that guy November 20, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    OK but really, any bomb big enough to be droped in Calif and heard and felt here,. Would be one … of a bomb a MOAB (Mother of all bombs) . And would be pretty devastating to the surrounding areas.
    Now as for your sonic booms pure BS the planes would have to be flying right over head as sonic booms follow the air craft.
    So I do not know what is going on but it is not bombs droped in Calif or jets from Nelis.
    It could be explained as aleins escapeing area 51 being destroyed, but uncle sam would never admit that. Or the secret underground cities being built for the rich are collapsing in on there selves becaues the aleins building them are revolting. But them again the powers that be will never admit to lying to us all these years about M12 or project Majestic .
    Ed. ellipsis

    • The Captain November 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

      The closest MOA is about 30 miles from downtown St George.

      Just sayin’

      The quote below is taken straight from your referenced source.

      “Boom intensity is greatest directly under the flight path, progressively weakening with greater horizontal distance away from the aircraft flight track. Ground width of the boom exposure area is approximately 1 statute mile (1.6 km) for each 1,000 feet (300 m) of altitude (the width is about five times the altitude); that is, an aircraft flying supersonic at 30,000 feet (9,100 m) will create a lateral boom spread of about 30 miles (48 km). “

  • Ms_di November 20, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    It is not pleasant to have that flash of panic hit you as you wonder what is happening around you. They will not tell us what it REALLY is, it has been going on for years and years and sometimes it is worse then the usual little tremors. I agree that it has something to do with testing but where it is coming from is hard to say.

  • Haydee decker November 20, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    These booms have been heard ALL over the world. It’s not military. It’s not earthquakes.

  • Ismot2 November 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I don’t have to hear them I can feel them. I wish they would save some of those bombs for ISIS!

  • Billy T. November 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I call BS…I’m prior military. I’m feeling sonic boom in St.George from a base over 100 miles away! I don’t think so but I guess the general public is totally ignorant and would just say oh okay. What I’m actually feeling is blast over pressure. Somthing much closer…more like local. Nice try but not buying it.

    • Carol November 20, 2014 at 9:51 pm


    • Nathan Cowlishaw November 21, 2014 at 6:25 am

      They’re probably drilling underground tunnels! 🙂

  • Maggie November 20, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    I don’t know but it happened again tonight when Obama was speaking. Had me kind of worried. I was not being very PC.
    Perhaps if someone called Sen Hatch’s office tomorrow and asked them to check it out. They are only worrisome if you do not know what they are ,probably nothing to worry about but anything that booms and shakes an entire area is indeed worth checking on seriously.

    • Davis November 21, 2014 at 8:13 am

      I felt this last night as well, wondering what to do if it turned into something more serious. No warnings, no emergency message.

  • Keenan November 20, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    They have been blasting with TNT at the base of Shinob Kibe in Washington all week. I work like three blocks down from it. It shakes out building all day and we hear the blasts all throughout the day.

  • d November 20, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I was making a delivery the other day and I seen a B-1 bomber fly over pretty low

  • Greg November 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Its the bombing range up by garrison I was run off years ago at gunpoint by private security

    • Walther November 20, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      In WWI the German and French guns at the front were heard in Paris, some 90 miles away.

      Just sticks of bombs going off at the Nevada ranges. We hear ’em all the time up here in Dammeron.

      (Really annoying though, people having more fun than you or I.)

  • CDC November 20, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    As an ammunition operations officer (retired) who was involved in the destruction of large quantities of ammunition and explosives I was required to check the weather condition prior to the operation. Based on weather conditions specifically inversions, noise from such explosions can refract (bounce) the sound miles away. Inversion conditions caused delays in operations until they cleared. Refracted sound waves can cause damage like broken windows and cracks in structures. I believe the Air Force does practice bombing at a bombing range some where in Nevada not too far across the border. This may be the cause of the “booming” sounds heard in our area.

    • Koolaid November 20, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      Your explanation makes too much sense for the anti-government Dixie clan to understand. You need to claim some covert government activity. Anyone who has lived in the vicinity of a firing range would understand what you are saying.

    • Rachel November 21, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Tonapah Test Range. Less than 100 miles as the crow flies. Your explanation is extremely interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  • Notagain November 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    The cause? I’m leaning to the acceptances of my neighbor’s conclusion;
    Recent arrivals of Latin immigrates from across the southern boarder driving Chevy sedans with boom boxes blaring and shocks a moving (to the tune of ‘Viva President Obama’ king of all).

  • Koolaid November 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    It’s underground nuclear testing, right under the temple.

    • Meagan Leigh November 20, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      The prophet of Parowan has spoken. Kneel down and meet your maker. 😉

  • Sgnative November 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    I want to know what the eerie mechanical booming rhythm was last Saturday in Utah county for about ten minutes. I thought maybe the refineries at Utah lake had a siren going but it was too low of a sound wave for that and too low to the ground. It echoed off the hills and was louder in the middle. Maybe it was HARRP?

  • Sgnative November 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Oh and I would hear big sonic booms all day when living next to spyglass hill. I would always go outside and wonder if someone had an explosion in their garage. It was every week about Tuesday morning 2009 ish. And then there were the sounds out by the supposed old gypsum mine behind staheli farm. All sorts of odd trucks and vehicles going in and out of that private property. Wierd…..

  • The Rest Of The Story November 20, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    This should give everyone a tiny glimps of what the residents of other countries feel like. No wonder they hate our guts. I don’t blame them!

  • PHJ November 20, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    They should love our guts. We are the ones who come to the aid of the ones in need.

    • The Rest Of The Story November 21, 2014 at 10:36 am

      That’s right. Keep telling yourself that.

  • jr November 21, 2014 at 12:12 am

    All you guys are close ,but no sigar .Its that mexican food from the little resturant off bluff.,try there number two,its called EL blaster

  • Nathan Cowlishaw November 21, 2014 at 5:50 am

    I don’t buy the Sonic Booms either. These were earthquakes that I felt rumble through the ground in a basement apartments; they sound more like massive underground explosions, repeatedly. I think something is going on out at Area 51!

  • Nathan Cowlishaw November 21, 2014 at 6:24 am

    Did St. George News delete my last comment? When hearing these things in a basement apartment they sound more like the Earthquakes that I am accustomed to. This phenomena is not the result of Sonic Booms; I don’t buy that theory/explanation. There’s something going on here like explosions being detonated underground. Probably massive explosions out at Area 51?

    • Joyce Kuzmanic November 21, 2014 at 6:31 am

      No Nathan, moderating comments is not automated – it takes a person and we get to them in due course. Comment away. The only problem with part of your theories is that the University of Utah Seismology Stations did not detect any significant earthquakes during the period in question, they did detect activity (sound) of some sort. We may give the aliens at Area 51 a call though, they may be up to something.
      Thank you for participating,
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

      • Nathan Cowlishaw November 21, 2014 at 6:48 am

        Sorry… I hadn’t refreshed the page!

  • Steve November 21, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I’m surprised nobody is mentioning the large number of trails in the sky over Utah’s Dixie about two weeks ago. I also saw major activity at Nellis AFB at the same time. I assumed many of the planes from Nellis were flying over Washington County.

  • sagemoon November 21, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I grew up near air force bases. I don’t think these sounds are sonic booms. Remember several years ago when the military wanted to start testing bombs in Nevada and the “down winders” here started a protest that supposedly stopped the tests? I think they went ahead with the testing. They just told us they wouldn’t test but did it anyway.

    • Stacey November 21, 2014 at 10:26 am

      In 2007 it was called “divine strake” and I recall being very concerned myself. Basically they wanted to do some “test bombing” at the old nuclear test sight. Of course the main concern was disturbing that tainted soil and once again getting it airborne. It was supposedly defeated, but some articles indicate it was “postponed”. I’m guessing they just waited until the heat of the issue dissipated and then went a long with their plans.

  • Mary November 21, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I saw about 25 military vehicles with tanks and ither equipmenr roll through cedar city and go out west 5 days ago on 57 .. I bet its them …

  • Robin November 21, 2014 at 9:24 am

    My husband called the Washington County police department yesterday about the ‘vibrations’ and was told that the Washington County Landfill has been using explosives to make room for more of our garbage ‘my words not hers’! That is what it felt like to us here in Dixie Springs!

    • Joyce Kuzmanic November 21, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Yes, permitted blasting at the landfill is mentioned at the end of the report; it does not appear to account for the series of booms people are experiencing but may account for some disturbance felt in those areas.
      Thank you, Robin,for joining in the mystery-solving,
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

  • BDUB November 21, 2014 at 9:44 am

    It’s Area 51!!!!

  • troller November 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Out of all these comments it seems that no city officials know what is going on either. Hmmm? You would think with all the doomsday and conspiracy television programing, they (city officials) wouldn’t want their community to be so concerned.

  • troller November 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I also grew up in a AFB city. The loudest thing I ever heard besides a sonic boom was b-52’s or kc-135’s flying above. Have also felt the 89 earthquake ( loma prieta ). The sound is not the same as a earthquake, but it seems as if these booms are from the same depth…..

  • Zonkerb November 21, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I think it’s the invasion from mars

  • Mescalito November 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    12:55 on Friday the 21st. Just heard and felt another one. They rattle my house and feel like earthquakes.
    I have been hearing and feeling these for months.
    Perhaps it is training exercises, but it seems unlikely they would be able to continue for so long without complaint.

  • that guy November 21, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    All kidding aside, I agree with thoses commenting that this house shaking window rattling rumbling booming thing has been going on for sometime now. More then a few weeks. It has been going on for months if not years.. I watch the news and check the earthquake sites on the net after each one only to find nothing was reported. It is this no nothing, see nothing ,report nothing lack of any explanation. That screams goverment cover up. Not buying sonic booms or military training exercises. It has been going on for far to long. We will see if it all stops today 11/21/2014 but my guess is it will continue and no explanation for it will be giving. Other then some lame story a third grader could prove a lie,when ever too many ask what is all the booming, house shaking, window rattling, rumbling going on in southern Utah.

  • StGeoSenior November 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    It’s probably Obama’s fault.

  • Dolly November 21, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Just felt another one a few seconds ago. It was a really loud one, not only did the windows rattle, but the house creaked. Would be nice to know what’s really going on!

  • Tamalama November 21, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Just happened again!

  • Nathan Cowlishaw November 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    The University of Utah could always have some sort of deniability on their seismograph picking anything up if it’s a concern of “national security” – I mean the government seems pretty rogue?

    I mean it wouldn’t be the first time they lied or tested weaponry on americans or saw us expendable for the greater good. For example, Nuclear Bomb Testing at the Nevada Test Site half a century ago…

  • Alec smart November 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Sounds like they are working overtime at shinob kibe or possibly the landfill? LOL!!!!! I am just really glad that someone is addressing the issue. Hopefully we can get a halfway decent answer in the near future from somebody with authority. Good story STGNEWS.

  • Judy Williams November 22, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Nelis says they are not doing any training exercises right now. They’ve already made a statement about that. It’s probably gypsum mining on the AZ Strip.

  • Crystal November 23, 2014 at 2:47 am

    I heard one tonight about an hour ago. If it is AF shouldn’t it be done now that it’s after the planned testing?

  • All About That Bass November 23, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Because you know it’s all about that bass, bout that bass, no treble. I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do, cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places

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  • D November 24, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Ok. So I read this story the other day. Here in Mesquite we just experienced something similar. Our friend on the other side of town felt it as well. Def not a sconic boom.

  • J November 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    There’s another big one!

  • Ace November 25, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    We live on the Arizona strip just across the river from mesquite, nv and we just barely felt the house, windows and the floor shake. I’m thinking they are causing these little tremors to set off huge earthquakes later…..????

  • Justme..... November 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Hurricane just had one, at 0755pm tonight, not a sonic boom and sounded either shallow or above ground.

  • Justme..... November 25, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    0755pm- there’s another one, felt in Hurricane.

  • svarober November 26, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I live in Marysvale, Utah and just this morning heard 3 loud booms. It was around 6:30 am. I was thinking to myself “WoW, people shooting at the range awful early”.
    Wonder if this is related. Any booms in St. George this morning????

  • Vicki Endsley November 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    I hear/feel them almost everyday between 11 am and 1 pm. Drives me crazy not knowing what is going on. Definitely increased in the last week or two, but seems to be more on the 11-1 schedule this week. Been living here for 2 1/2 years and have noticed them almost since we moved in. Would definitely love to know what it is!!

  • Koolaid November 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Is it true that silicone breast augmentations vibrate when temperatures approach the freezing temperature? There you go. It’s all those boob jobs oscillating at the same frequency in this cold weather that causing the vibrations and thunder. When it gets colder, will the oscillation increase and cause buildings to shake and tumble down?

  • C. King November 26, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I feel the earth move under my feet. I feel the sky tumbling down. I feel my heart start to trembling, whenever you’re around.

  • zionbluesky November 30, 2014 at 8:10 am

    We heard the boom again on the 26th while at the Red Cliffs Desert Preserve.

  • John Van Ruiten December 4, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I live in Enterprise, and it shakes the ground and the whole house. I see that they are supposed to report if they are blasting, but it sure sounds like it’s underground to me. There was some really big ones tonight.

  • Harmonica Lewinsky December 4, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I’ve heard these rumblings for about 3 years here in Veyo. at certain times of the year for several days at a time. Tonight about an hr ago I heard the ripple of several explosions one after another fractions of a second apart.tonight was most def. the loudest/most powerful yet. I think it is military testing of nuclear weaponry underground. They don’t need permission they have the bombs!!! They do what they want! How awesome it would be if they disturbed the layers of the earth enough so as to awaken the sleeping volcanoes in this area!! Thanks gov!!

  • Vietnam Vet December 7, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    In SunRiver we hear these noises often during the day and at night. They are not the result of blasting at our local gypsum mines. Blasting is distinctive — louder, sharper, rattling everything, and short in duration. The “booms” sound identical to the B-52 bombing raids I saw and heard in Nam where a number of bombs explode one after another. My guess is that practice bombing runs in the Tonopah/Nellis Test Range north of Las Vegas are the culprits, and that the shock waves travel through the ground to us, not through the air. Sound waves traveling through the air would dissipate long before reaching us. Also, the “booms” are quite distinct from sonic booms.

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