ANOKA (WCCO) — It was an explosion-like sound that rattled houses and woke the weary.
Eric Converse heard it shake his Andover home, unsure what had just happened.
“Sometimes you get that winter thunderstorm, or something like that,” Converse said. “I guessed it was a train, but it was loud.”
That was around 2:10 a.m. when folks from Cambridge to Chanhassen were left guessing, too.
“I went to the Facebook page and neighbors on those pages were totally talking about it,” Andrea Melberg-Thompson said.
Deputies were dispatched across Anoka County on calls of a suspicious blast but found nothing. It was a nighttime mystery that became ripe for morning radio.
“Dave Lee and I took so many calls or texts this morning,” said Mike Lynch, WCCO Radio meteorologist.
Soon, the snippets of video clues started to trickle in, shedding light on the mysterious sound. Michael Stanga saw it on his weather watching cameras meant to detect summer lightning in the skies over Otsego.
“I’ll go check the cameras and sure enough, it said lightning is detected which is odd for December,” Michael Stanga said. “It was a big flash.”
There were a total of 14 confirmed sightings from Mora to Lakeville, trained observers reported to the American Meteor Society. Lynch now had the proof he was looking for.
“Think of it as lightning or thunder right over your house,” he said.
Indeed, it was a streaking meteor, 50 to 80 miles above the earth’s surface, captured at precisely the same time as folks reported the sound.
“I think what happened was it hit the atmosphere and had produced so much heat that it caused the air to rapidly expand, which makes the thunder,” Lynch said.
Think of it as nature’s sonic boom, filling the night sky across a wide swath of the northern metro. A mystery no more, thanks to cameras meant to catch thieves.
An Elk River observer said the bright blue light lasted about five seconds. That was followed about three minutes later with the loud report.
According to the AMS, the meteor was roughly the size of a refrigerator — and one of the largest meteors observed in the world this year.