Mysterious booms baffle Central Virginia residents

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COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR) -- CBS 6 News has received hundreds of tips since our story aired about mysterious booms being heard across Central Virginia. Some said the noises were so intense they rattled their homes.

Police and firefighters in Colonial Heights were called out to three different parts of the city Sunday after receiving calls about mysterious sounds.

"It's a loud, loud boom,” Clint Lanier, who lives in Chesterfield County, told CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil. “It' ain't no shotgun and it ain't no kind of gun. It's like an explosion."

Sgt. Rob Ruxer with Colonial Heights police said dispatchers received at least three calls just before 5:30 p.m. Sunday from citizens in separate areas of the city about a loud noise.

"There was a large boom. I thought it was thunder,” Kelsey Barnes of Colonial Heights said. “It kind of shook the house a little bit, but I have no idea what it was."

Officials have not been able to tie the booms to one specific area, but they have been reported for the past several weeks. Residents from  from Chester to southern Chesterfield, Colonial Heights and Hopewell have reported hearing the booms.

"Well it definitely grabs your attention and you think, ‘why on earth is that going on at this time?" said Carolyn Thompson of Colonial Heights.

Those who have heard the booms said they do not happen again for several days – and how they sound varies.

"I would hear a boom about once every two or three days, just a loud boom and that was it," said Stuart Blankenship of Colonial Heights.

John Thompson, who heard the boom in Colonial Heights, described it as a Sonic Boom from a jet. He said he did not think it was fireworks since there was only one boom.

"I went out of my bedroom and went outside and looked around first thing," said Chase Henry of Chesterfield. "Then walked back inside, I had no idea, so I just left it at that."

Colonial Heights residents Susan Crane, who also lives in, said she was watching TV when she heard the boom Sunday.

“I've heard it numerous times,” Crane said. “I usually get up and look out my door, like I'm going to see something, but there's nothing to see."

CBS 6 News checked area surveillance cameras across the city and could not find sign of the boom. With every recurrence, there has been no revelation about what or who is behind them.

Colonial Heights Fire Chief A.G. Moore said his department does not have any additional leads about where the noises are coming from or what is causing them.

"I think that's what kind of surprised me the most, is seeing how wide spread this is," said Moore. "It's not really confined just to Colonial Heights and Southern Chesterfield County."

On social media there is a lot of speculation about what could be causing the booms. If you think you know what is causing them, scroll down to leave a comment or click here to post a message on Facebook. 

But CBS 6 has determined the booms are not coming from Fort Lee or Fort Picket. It was not the rock quarry in Dinwiddie or Chesterfield. Additionally, it was not a transformer explosion or a sonic boom.

And while some CBS 6 Facebook fans thought it might be a cold-related tremor, the average temperature last week was nearly 40 degrees.

Stay with CBS 6 News and for updates on this story. 


  • Mark

    We had them on the Northside of Richmond in 2004. Felt like the house was slighty lifted and dropped.. And would actually make a noise.

    After months of the media making a spectacle out of the Northside residents, and even arresting kids for making homemade soda bottle bombs, some seismic equipment was brought in from Va Tech and it was determined that they were called microseisms, a very low-level seismic event.

    So, NO, you are not going crazy.. They are more than likely seismic in nature and will go away.. (but could come back at any time)

  • Barbara

    I live by Ft Lee and again I hear so much booming noises all the time,could it be coming from Ft Lee or could it be coming from a car accident on 295 which is in my back yard,and I have been hearing the booming noise all today,I find it hard that no one can not find what is causes it.

  • Beth Lambert

    Today is the 15th, and I live in Amelia County. I have been hearing them for about the last 20 minutes or so. They were spaced enough, I thought it could possibly be thunder, but I looked at the weather map, and there is no possible way that is what I am hearing.

  • Justin

    I live in eagles cove off river rd on lake chesdin. I here them pretty regularly, always summed it up as demolitions at ft Pickett but just heard them a few minutes ago at 11:30pm and called my brother who is at Pickett. He says they for sure aren’t doing anything there. The sound does very, it’s a rumbling in the distance but a little different in duration each time. It’s never just one though they seem to come in waves and then stop with no pattern. Always to the west north west of here which essentially is the direction the lake runs. I grew up on Ivey Mill and remember when they fired the big guns at Pickett. Those would have a pattern and rhythm to them and were the same each time. I dunno strange deal if there really is no readily available answer, glad to hear others hear and feel it too. Any way just thought I’d share

    • Beth Lambert

      I didn’t think it sounded right for Ft. Pickett either. No rhyme or reason to the sounds. They were different, and would come from different directions. Some sound like they are coming from quite a distance, and some sound like they are in the woods out back from where I am. But, according to the Amelia County Sheriff’s office, Ft. Pickett is claiming it.

  • scars

    Here in the West End, we are having some blasting with construction near my neighborhood which causes loud booms and rattles the windows. Of course, in that case you will hear what sounds like a train whistle prior to it because they use warning sirens. The first time I didn’t know what it was and it was a little frightening, but it doesn’t bother me much anymore. For those not hearing the sirens, though, I don’t know what that could be …

  • William

    There is a metal refinery west of Petersburg and southwest of Colonial Heights. I hear them banging and carrying on at all hours.

    Another thing to keep in mind is the fault line that runs through the area. Google “Fall line in Virginia” for maps. It is part of the system that generated that big (for us) quake a few years ago and the one a few years before that. According to the history of the area, it was a few hundred years ago that one actually hit in the tri-cities area, all that can be found with a search as well. All that said, there is no activity listed on the USGS earthquake page.

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