Many Charlotteans reported being shaken from their sleep early Tuesday because of an extraordinarily loud boom.
Good news: Despite all apocalyptic theories, the noise was only thunder.
The boom reportedly shook homes around 2 a.m., and moments after, it appeared to sleet and/or hail. Unlucky residents who suddenly found it hard to go back to sleep were left with one question: Why was the thunder so loud?
Turns out the likely explanation has to do with air temperature.
A temperature inversion was in place, which occurs when surface temperature is cooler than the air above it, according to the national weather service. An overnight temperature inversion is normal, according to weather service meteorologist Andrew Kimball.
What isn’t normal, he said, is thunder.
During a temperature inversion, Kimball said, showers don’t normally produce enough instability to cause thunder. But when they do, sound is essentially trapped near the ground and amplified.
So no, that wasn’t an alien invasion last night, and the city wasn’t blowing up. It was only thunder. Creepy, sleep-disrupting thunder.