HAVERHILL — A loud, crashing bang jolted the nerves of many Merrimack Valley residents late Thursday night.

The boom came at around 11 p.m., on the tail end of an intense thunder storm.

Mary Murphy, of Linwood Street, said the noise woke her out of a sound sleep.

"It was very loud," she said. "I thought there had been a car accident." Some of her friends in New Hampshire heard the noise at that same time, she said.

Murphy teaches in Lynn and her colleagues also reported hearing the "really loud" bang, she said.

"My house shook," Murphy said. One of her fellow teachers thought there had been a gas explosion, she added.

A couple of police dispatchers said they, too, heard the bang.

"It rattled my house," said Emily Staton, who dispatches for the Groveland police. She lives close to the Bates Bridge in Haverhill.

Heather Lefebvre, who handles calls for the Georgetown police, said she heard "one loud bang" while driving to her job from her home in Merrimac.

In North Andover, Karen Kline said the noise sounded like a jet breaking the sound barrier. She expressed concern about the extreme weather ravaging the country lately. 

Kline pointed out that a few hours earlier, an intense storm, with hail and winds up to 100 mph, severely damaged homes and cars in West Addison, Vermont, on the shore of Lake Champlain.

People in West Addison speculated they may have experienced a tornado. Those who heard the loud bang wondered if the Merrimack Valley might have been hit with an earthquake.

The online earthquake map of the U.S. Geological Survey, which tracks tremors throughout the world, did not report any quakes within 1,000 miles of this area.

Kevin Cadima, a meteorologist with the National Weather Survey, said it is not unusual for a thunder clap to be loud enough to shake a house. That is likely what many Merrimack Valley residents heard late Thursday night, he said.

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