NASA has confirmed that an earth-shattering boom felt in the Pittsburgh area on New Year’s Day was a meteor — which exploded with an energy blast equivalent to about 30 tons of TNT.
The space agency said a bolide — an extremely bright meteor that explodes in the atmosphere — was responsible for the loud boom that shook the area.
“A nearby infrasound station registered the blast wave from the meteor as it broke apart; the data enabled an estimate of the energy at 30 tons of TNT,” NASA said on Facebook.
“If we make a reasonable assumption as to the meteor’s speed (45,000 miles per hour), we can ballpark the object’s size at about a yard in diameter, with a mass close to half a ton,” it said.
“Had it not been cloudy, the fireball would have been easily visible in the daylight sky — crude estimate indicates about 100 times the brightness of the Full Moon,” NASA added.
Shannon Hefferan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Tribune-Review that satellite data recorded a flash over Washington County about 11:30 a.m. Saturday and that officials believed it was due to a meteor “falling through the atmosphere.”
Hefferan said a similar event occurred Sept. 17 in Hardy County, West Virginia.
Residents around suburban Pittsburgh reported feeling their homes shaking and rattling when the blast was heard.
With Post wires