Were the loud sounds I have heard in San Diego this year really sonic booms?

Fact! Sonic booms have been heard in San Diego three times in 2021.

Three seemingly random dates – February 16, March 10, and June 8 of 2021 – have shared a peculiar phenomenon this year: a loud, sudden rumbling noise in the San Diego area, with some areas even felt shaking, dubbed by some as a “skyquake.” Residents wondered: was it thunder? An earthquake? A gas or electrical issue? However, San Diego’s proximity to several military bases can closely explain these sounds as being sonic booms.

The most recent boom in June was discounted as an earthquake by the US Geological Survey and involvement was initially denied by the Navy and Marine bases in the area. Some suspected it originated with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton as they had issued a noise advisory for live-fire artillery training that week as late as midnight.

However, soon afterward, the event was addressed by the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, which stated, “While MCAS Miramar cannot account for every sound event that occurs within the area, in this case the cause is possibly due to aircraft training occurring in the W-291 range, approximately 30 miles southwest of San Diego over the Pacific Ocean.” The statement continued, saying, “two units departed from MCAS Miramar and were conducting simulated air-to-air combat training.”

According to MCAS, this practice is allowed under regulations by both civilian and military entities as long as it is far enough out over the ocean.

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