Sonic boom causes alarm on Kiawah, Folly

An aerial view of Kiawah Island, from the south.

An apparent sonic boom caused by an aircraft breaking the sound barrier led to numerous reports of a loud explosion Friday morning at the east end of Kiawah Island, the town said.

The booming sound was also heard on the west end of Folly Beach where at least two residents reported it to City Hall, officials said.

“My husband and I were watching TV in the living room and the patio door glass shook. I thought for sure it was an earthquake,” said Folly resident Brenda Sue Morris.

A James Island resident reported on social media that her house shook. And a Folly resident said the ground shook.

No seismic activity was reported in South Carolina on Friday, said a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey.

“We also believe it was a sonic boom,” said Folly Town Administrator Spencer Wetmore.

At 9 a.m, Friday, about 50 calls poured into Kiawah Town Hall shortly after the booming sound was heard, said Town Administrator Stephanie Braswell.

“Through our investigation it appears a military plane broke the sound barrier creating a sonic boom,” according to a posting on the Kiawah town website.

The town responded and determined there was no cause for alarm.

“It’s not something that’s unusual, but with all the things going on around the world people panic,” said Rusty Lameo, a town building code enforcement officer. “It proved to be nothing on the ground. We’re all assuming that it’s a jet.”

He checked with various government agencies, including Joint Base Charleston, and was told they had no planes up that would have caused the incident. The Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort conducts exercises that could have been the source of the booming sounds, he said.

An Air Station spokesman had no immediate response on whether the Beaufort base was conducting exercises at that time but said he would check to see if that was the case.

“This has happened numerous times in the past and it’s always been usually a jet out of Beaufort,” Lameo said. “Depending on the atmosphere and the way the wind is you can hear it if they break the sound barrier.”