A thundering boom that rocked parts of upstate New York on Wednesday afternoon is now believed to have been caused by an unusually large meteor hurtling through Earth's atmosphere.
The far-reaching noise reportedly shook homes across Onondaga County, leaving some residents mystified, and prompting fears of a gas explosion. According to Robert Lunsford, a "fireball report coordinator" with the American Meteor Society, the boom was produced by an impressively large and durable meteor blowing up over Syracuse.
"Normally meteors completely disintegrate while they're high in the atmosphere," Lunsford explained to Gothamist. "If they can survive down far enough where atmosphere can carry sound waves, you can hear a sonic boom."
He noted that meteors that produce sound are rare, adding that it requires "exceptional circumstances" for the fireballs to be visible in the daylight.
Overcast skies in Syracuse blocked most sightings there, but the American Meteor Society has recorded 64 reports, from Buffalo to Maryland, of people witnessing the meteor shortly after noon on Wednesday.
While New York City residents did not experience the phenomenon, Lunsford promised we'd get a chance to watch rocks fall from the sky soon: the annual Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak on December 13th and 14th, and should be visible to all.