Mysterious boom in Hillsborough confirmed as an 2.2 magnitude earthquake: 'Indeed an earthquake'

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Friday, October 20, 2023
Earthquake confirmed as the boom heard in Hillsborough
USGS said the Hillsborough quake registered as a 2.2 magnitude.

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A cause of the mysterious loud boom that shook buildings and startled many people in Hillsborough on Thursday has been confirmed.

Friday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) sent ABC11 this statement confirming it was an earthquake.

"We can confirm that it indeed was an earthquake. These small earthquakes often do not get picked up by our computer algorithms because they are so small. When we got felt reports, an analyst looked at it but initially thought it was a quarry blast because it is right near a quarry (visible on Google Earth). Re-examining it this morning, though, we confirmed that it was an earthquake."

USGS said it registered as a 2.2 magnitude quake.

Seymour Johnson AFB also sent ABC11 a confirmation that they didn't have any Fighter jets in the area on Thursday.

It happened shortly before noon.

"We have received numerous reports of a loud boom that caused buildings to shake (I heard and felt it in my building and assumed someone had dropped something on our roof). Several of our departments have investigated and have so far been unable to determine the cause," Orange County Community Relations Director Todd McGee said.

"Made my heart skip a beat."

Orange County said Raleigh-Durham International Airport confirmed there was no recorded aircraft in the area at the time that could've caused a sonic boom.

Alivia Crouch was working at Studio 71 when she heard what she said sounded like the building was hit.

"It made my heart skip a beat," Crouch said.

"For some this was felt inside buildings and heard outside. So far we have ruled out any obvious causes (bombs, explosions, crashes, planes, extraterrestrial landings, building failures, etc.). It is possible that this may have been a small earthquake (although not currently registering on any seismographs). We will continue to investigate the cause," Orange County Emergency Services Director W. Kirby Saunders said.

Philip Singer was at home when he said he felt rumbling.

"It was the percussion from it, the shake of the ground in the house that surprised me," Singer said.

According to our newsgathering partners at the News & Observer, deputies evacuated the Orange County Courthouse immediately following the boom.