'Weapons system test' causing loud booms heard in bay area and points north

Published Dec. 12, 2014

The booms heard Friday in the Tampa Bay area's coastal counties are a result of a military weapons system test, according to emergency management officials in Gilchrist County.

Residents in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties and points north have reported the booms throughout the day. In Pasco, officials inquired and were told by state officials that the sounds were likely a result of high speed military maneuvers, said county spokesman Doug Tobin.

They were in the right ballpark, according to officials in Gilchrist County, west of Gainesville, who received numerous reports about the booms there.

"Confirmation has been received by the Gilchrist County Emergency Management that the loud 'booms' heard today is a 'Weapons Systems Test' 150 miles off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico," the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office reported about 5 p.m. on its website and Facebook page. "Tests will continue today and cease over the weekend and then resume Monday morning."

Gilchrist officials said the testing is a joint operation between U.S. Navy and Air Force.