Well, it didn’t take long for me to be a resident of Staten Island before weird things started happening. We were awoken at about 3:30am this morning by a spectacular thunderstorm, but also an odd, eerie and (at first) unexplained noise. I was woken up by the noise, but also the extremely bright lightning. I got up and went into the bathroom, and was greeted by the biggest flash of lighting I’d ever seen. But the thunder was distant. I had heard a low rumbling, and Laura heard it too. When I got back into bed, we were both mesmerized by the lightning. Very bright flashes kept happening, but the thunder seemed continuous, low and rumbling off in the distance. Residents all over the island had heard it, and described it in similar ways. While it was unusual, it was also raining heavily, and I didn’t think much of it and went back to sleep shortly thereafter. Laura stayed up and listened, and she later described it as sounding almost like a tornado.
Waking up this morning, Facebook was buzzing with stories regarding the mysterious noise, and people had been posting videos to YouTube and the Staten Island Advance. Speculation started to grow, with conspiracy theorists stating it was HAARP (in collaboration with chemtrails, no doubt!), or maybe UFOs, or secret government testing of military aircraft, or some other paranormal or paranoid explanation. The earliest rational explanation I heard was that lightning had struck a steam pipe in New Jersey (to be fair, New Jersey is usually to blame whenever we have mysterious smells or sounds here in New York City), and the sound we all heard was steam venting out. That satisfied me, and again, I thought nothing more of it, yet people kept speculating.
The sound has now been fully explained, and the winner is: the valve on a steam pipe at Cogen Technologies, in Linden, New Jersey, was let go, and the sound that was heard was the steam escaping. So it wasn’t HAARP. It wasn’t UFOs. It wasn’t super-ultra-top secret military aircraft being flown over the biggest and most densely populated city on the east coast. And it wasn’t Cthulhu. Creepy to be sure, especially in the middle of the night during a spectacular thunderstorm, but it highlights again that simplest explanation is usually the correct one.
Videos of the strange sounds: