Earthquake jogs memory of meteor strike

Shuswap resident recalls night sky becoming bright as day, booming sounds

  • Mar. 4, 2019 5:10 p.m.

A flash in the sky bright as day, booming noises and windows shaking.

That’s what Gary Hucul remembers of a meteorite that struck the Shuswap in 1965.

Before it was revealed to be a 2.0 magnitude earthquake, speculation on social media as to what shook the Shuswap on the night of Saturday, March 2, included military jet planes flying overhead or possibly a meteor.

To the notion that the boom and rumble was caused by military jets, Canada’s Department of National Defence said Monday, March 4, that if planes were seen flying overhead in the area, they weren’t any of theirs.

Some reported they had seen a meteor prior to the quake that occurred at approximately 8:40 p.m. Hucul wasn’t among them. However, because there was a delay by Natural Resources Canada in reporting the quake (due in part to the quake being considered a low-hazard situation, not triggering an immediate notification of the on-call seismologists with NRC), Hucul thought back to the night of March 31, 1965, when a meteor struck near Chase, and wondered if something similar had happened.

“I was nine years old or so – I can’t remember whether I saw the light first or heard the noise first,” said Hucul. “I remember looking out and I could see the neighbours house, that’s where Salmon Arm GM is now, from where our place was and it was just like daylight.

“I looked up from my bedroom window and saw it so I ran out to the kitchen, and there was just this ‘boom,boom,boom,boom’ across the sky. It seemed to go on forever, which was probably only a matter of seconds. Freaks you out when you’re a little kid.”

Read more: Update: No aftershocks expected after Shuswap earthquake

Read more: Magnitude 4.5 earthquake reported off Vancouver Island

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The Salmon Arm Observer of April 1, 1965 reported the night sky became brighter than daylight shortly before 10 p.m. the night prior, as a “flaming meteorite streaked overhead and appeared to crash with an earth-shaking roar somewhere near Chase.”

It was reported to have been one of a number of meteorites that had swept across the province and parts of the United States.

“RCMP and civilian searchers, led on by the smell of sulphur fumes, were attempting today to locate the remains of the brilliant balls of fire that lit the skies and landscape.”

RCMP in Chase reported buildings in the area had been shaken, and a small amount of rock and debris had rolled onto the Trans-Canada Highway. Police were told the flash was seen as far as Saskatoon.

Damage from the meteor strike included windows broken in Chase, Anglemont, Blind Bay and Sorrento.

On the same night in 1965, another meteor hit the ground near Revelstoke, rattling windows and shaking doors there.

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