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'Rare' meteor triggers sonic boom, brilliant flash over Lake Ontario

“To have something so close to a major city, that's pretty rare,” an expert said.
Image: Satellite meteor
This satellite image released from NOAA shows where a meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere between Syracuse and Rochester earlier today.NOAA

A meteor crashed through the Earth’s atmosphere over New York state Wednesday, triggering a thunderous boom and a spectacular flash over Lake Ontario, officials said.

Bill Cooke, who leads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, said the meteor made its fiery entry traveling west and clocking speeds of 56,000 mph at 12:08 p.m. ET.

As the meteor broke into pieces at an altitude of 22 miles between Rochester and Syracuse, Cooke said, it created a sonic boom reportedly heard across New York.

Emergency dispatchers in Onondaga County, where Syracuse is located, reported receiving multiple 911 calls reporting the sound. NBC affiliate WTSM reported that it was also heard in the nearby counties of Oswego and Madison.

As it broke apart, the meteor produced a brilliant flash over Lake Ontario, Cooke said. Video from Toronto's 1,815-foot CN Tower appeared to capture the flare over the city's skyline.

Cooke said that so few videos of the object have emerged that its orbit remains unclear. He said its slow entry speed suggested it was likely from an asteroid.

Robert Lunsford, of the American Meteor Society, said it was possible the meteor could have been seen over a broad area. Observers reported seeing it from New York to Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., he said.

“To have something so close to a major city, that's pretty rare,” Lunsford said, adding that most meteors just “drop in the water.”