The world is a noisy place these days. Strange sounds abound.

The paranormal/Fortean media outlets were abuzz about the strange sounds from the sky starting in the summer of 2011. These “sky noises” are anomalous sounds that appear to be emanating from above, and do not sound like your everyday planes, trains or automobiles (so people say). Things quieted down for a while but now, they are back. Yes, it’s summer and that means that strange stories flood the local news. Yet, people really are hearing these noises.

Is it thunder, fireworks, earthquake sounds? Could it be HAARP, the magnetic poles shifting, the earth moaning cause, you know, it’s old and stuff…? Obviously, it’s horns from heaven, heralding the  Apocalypse… Or alien spacecraft. Or Bigfoot. Or, maybe it’s just the normal noises around here.

Thanks to the media coverage (which is typically terrible), mystery-mongering websites and forums, and people who believe the world may really be coming to end, some people are freaking out over these events. You shouldn’t freak out. I’ll show you why. But first, some background.

Are weird sounds from the sky real? Yes. Certainly. Unusual and unexpected sky noises/unidentified sounds in nature are referenced in the scientific literature. Several locations around the world have their famous hums, water guns and noises. These are likely natural, related to small seismic events, offshore waves crashing, and particular atmospheric conditions that enhance or distort it. In addition, there are also cases of musical echoes, natural music made from geologic formations or man-made structures.

And then there are man-made sounds.

Beginning around August of 2011, videos that depict unidentified audible objects (‘UAO’ – a terrible term because a sound is not a visible, tangible “object”)  appeared on YouTube. The rash of weird noises from all over the world proliferated at the start of Apocalyptical year 2012.

The video that started the whole phenomena originated in Kiev, Ukraine. This daytime scene appears to be recorded by a woman living in a city full of concrete high-rise apartments. The background noise, along with typical city noises of people and birds, includes a booming, eerie, mechanical, almost musical sound. The piece feels genuine; a child in the background asks, in Ukrainian, I guess, what those noises are. It’s eerie.

At the time, this video was debunked as nearby industrial noises, perhaps from local construction – a moving crane or underground tunneling equipment. Yet… it sounded astounding like the mysterious loud trumpet noises from the religious fundamentalism-themed movie Red State.

Just about this time, Red State was screening at film festivals in Europe after a March US release. Would a scary video of apocalyptic horn sounds that went viral online be good for the movie? Hmm. It didn’t seem to work out too well. No connection was made at that time. Marketing fail? Sure, there may be some other explanation for the Kiev video but this is a possibility to consider (more likely than trumpets of angels, wouldn’t you say?). These “sounds of the apocalypse” were a powerful meme fed by the fears of the 2012 predicted end times. According to the popularity of the media coverage and comments on various forums that I watched, many people were GENUINELY scared.

In the fall 2011, “hums” became the thing to record and get into the media. Windsor, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta in Canada were noted as having mystery hums. Roaring and rumbling events were also noted in various places around the world. At  the end of 2011, the internet audience was now sensitized to the interest in these unusual sounds. As more were reported on Facebook, Twitter and, most importantly, YouTube, their popularity fed upon itself. People actively sought hums, roars and rumbling to share with the world. So, it appeared that more were occurring. Not necessarily. But more were being reported.

The sounds most often are like roaring jets and booms. There are real seismic noises that can account for some mystery booms.

Groaning noises also appeared and it was claimed that the Earth is old, so she groans. Well, kind of. But the most scary  noises, the ones that cause the most media-fed “WOAH! WTF?”  seem to be the metallic noises that sound like alien machinery or gears of giant robots.

Pranksters quickly picked on the idea that you could get a thousand hits by standing on your porch or balcony and playing some weird sound in the background. Several videos were put up that were obviously post production dubbing of the original Kiev sound including one in Conklin, Alberta (supposedly) that a few linked to Sasquatch communication.

Some audio folks piped up to say that these recorded sounds did not fit with the frequency responses on the cameras (typically smartphones) or that they were sped-up or slowed down normal noises, clipped from other sound files or recorded from a background speaker.

So, it’s crystal clear that many of these were hoaxes. But not everyone knew that the copycat effect going on. Instead, they assumed the sounds were OCCURRING ALL OVER THE WORLD!!!!

What did people think the source of these heavenly modulations were? Well, forget natural sounds. That was clearly not exciting and you were pooh-poohed in blog comments if you suggested it. The more sciencey blog commenters proposed that the magnetic poles are shifting (debunked here) that was causing the sky noise and imminent disaster. And even some scientists proposed some terrible theories. The conspiratorial-minded said that mad scientists were using HAARP as mind control or the secret government is upping their construction on the underground bunkers for the coming worldwide takeover by aliens, the Illuminati, or the leftover Mayans. Of course it could have been from fracking, too.

The recent Terrace, British Columbia noises were identified as industrial sounds by the city spokesperson. But people didn’t want to believe it. They insisted it was too loud, there was no metal grinding going on, and they had heard it before in other places. They want the mystery to remain. They didn’t REALLY want an answer, it seemed, and they weren’t going to be satisfied with a mundane explanation.

Living near a train yard and having some experience with quarry blasting and noise, I know how weather makes a difference. Layers of air or clouds can reflect sound in weird ways, amplifying it at some times and not others. It’s confusing, surprising, and sleep-disturbing.

But, truth be told, the world is a noisy place. Wind, metal, machines all combine to make strange sounds. There is nothing to fear. It’s not Godzilla, it’s not the alien robots. It’s just modern civilization. But if it wakes you up at night, by all means, call the authorities. Just don’t panic.

17 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Sky Noises

  1. So what the heck do you think that was? the only other noise I’ve heard like that -that loud was 100s of tons of ice scraping against ice in winter on lake Superior.

  2. Auditable sound requires the participation of air to store and propagate and most of the time to generate sound. From the Kiev demo it appears to be a kind of Aerodynamic sound polluted with industrial noise of periodic nature from production shop floor mixed with wind movement in multistory environment.There is no mistry in it. Various air-immersed high rise structures like buildings, chimneys, electrical transmission towers further complicates the situation as a secondary sources of sound. Ambient wind velocity and direction-changes are most important to ‘paint ‘ the canvas of this sound-signatures.

  3. I heard the the noise sometime during the 2010 timeframe. I will never forget it. I was sleeping in my bed and all of a sudden I awoke to hear what sounded like heavy metal sawing. It lasted for about 10 to 15 seconds.. I instantly knew it was not of this world, but I wasn’t extremely frightened. Actually I tried going back to sleep. Then it happened again, this time lasting 20 or so seconds. It almost felt like the sound was in the room with me. I looked at the clock and it was 1:20 a.m. and I live several miles outside the city. I have Amish neighbors and I knew it wasn’t them. Lol. This phenomenon is real. My wife and I both have had a few ufo sightings while we lived there. So it makes me wonder what is really going on.

    1. How did you know it was “not of this world”. THis is speculation. You can’t know what it was. As I noted in the piece, it can be MANY things, but extraterrestrial isn’t a plausible, rational option to turn to.

      1. Isn’t your insight speculation too? How do you know extraterrestrial isn’t plausible. ..couldn’t that fall into your ” MANY things” category idoubtit?

      2. No. My insight is based on what we already know of the natural world and laws of physics. Those are reliable and not likely to be overturned. So, extraterrestrials as an explanation isn’t plausible right now.

  4. So, okay – it’s not aliens it’s not angels, whatever; what do you think it really is – and why did it really just start happening? I mean I understand that maybe it was just starting to be reported, but it’s not like camera’s with video or sound are new – social media has been around longer than 2010 – so why are we just hearing it now? I read an article where a scientist explained it as “solar flares” or from electromagnetic activity naturally occurring – but again, none of this is new and I can’t find any reports of the sounds from before 2010-2011.

    1. Also…I would agree that it does sound like mechanical work nearby – but the sounds in most of the video’s are exactly the same.

  5. 2 years ago February 28, 2013, 1:30am in Niagara Canada I heard the sound, absolutely unlike anything my ears have ever experienced. It was so loud, and the source sounded very far away. It has left me searching for an explanation of it with no solid theory or evidence. Most everything that we experience has an explanation but when you have none, believe me, it sort of messes with your head. I hope we get an answer, and for those who believe its a hoax ….its not! I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t hear it either, WAIT TIL YOU HEAR IT……

    1. There is NO doubt that many ARE hoaxes and misinterpreted sounds. I hear LOTS of weird noises. But I don’t assume they are paranormal or mysterious. Just because I don’t know what it is doesn’t make it scary or threatening.

  6. Not a hoax. I heard it in my hometown. And this isn’t me being a liar or a scoundrel, this is plain honest truth. I didn’t even know of this said ‘horn’, but thought it would be something scientifically cool to search up.
    Imagine my paranoia after I read the conspiracies and religious views.

    1. Some of the videos and reports online ARE hoaxes. The rest are identifiable if people tried or unknown because we don’t have enough information. There is no reason to feel paranoia just because some extremists spout scary ideas.

  7. Why is it that when someone mentions UFO or extraterrestrial they are labelled as extremists or wackos? Obviously, you are a skeptic, but there is evidence that they exist. Eye witness accounts by military and commercial pilots from around the world, radar recordings, physical evidence from landing sites. The origin of ufo’s is unknown, but not their existence. Open you mind. Do some research. Step outside the box.

    1. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone who hasn’t critically considered a subject at all tells me to “do some research” and “be open minded”. I’ve only looked at both sides for 20 some years and since written extensively about it. That’s all.

  8. I concur with most of the other posters… “Idoutbtit” if you haven’t actually heard this with your own ears, then you cannot even begin to claim what you “think” it is. I heard this sound at a field training exercise when I was stationed in Washington State with the Army in 2011. I can assure you there were no nearby cities or factories… There was no artillery or anything else going off either, and I can tell the difference. This was a very menacing metallic sound that definitely came from the atmosphere… I don’t claim to know what it was, but I don’t brush it off as some sort of “normal” occurrence either…

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