A meteor moving across the sky created panic across the southern part of the state Thursday night, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston said.
Hundreds of calls came into 911 centers in Boone, Raleigh, Logan and Kanawha counties at about 10:15 p.m., said meteorologist Joe Merchant.
Merchant said callers described hearing explosions and a bright light in the sky.
“Kanawha 911 said it looked like fireworks going off on their radar, it appeared that close to them, so it must have been pretty bright,” he said.
Merchant said the explosive sound was a “sonic boom,” probably caused by the meteor breaking into pieces before it hit the ground.
Before Boone County 911 dispatchers got word from the weather service, they sent police to investigate several calls they received about an explosion.
“Some people were saying their homes were shaking,” a dispatcher said.
“The fire departments were calling us asking what was going on,” a Lincoln County 911 dispatcher said.
The American Meteor Society is investigating the “fireball,” according to its website.
The AMS website states that thousands of meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day, but most occur over oceans and uninhabited regions, or are masked by daylight.
“The brighter the fireball, the more rare is the event,” the AMS website states.
A sonic boom associated with a fireball is quite rare, according to the website.