Buildings shook, alarms blared, dust and leaves drifted to the ground and cars vibrated across the South Sound on Tuesday afternoon.
Droves of residents bolted outside of homes and businesses, expecting to see something, anything. But there was nothing except other curious and concerned people.
That’s because there are no visual remnants when F-15 jets generate sonic booms while throttling full-speed from Portland to Seattle to intercept a floatplane that broke the Temporary Flight Restriction area in place for President Barack Obama’s brief visit.
Amelia Elliott was inside her home at the corner of North 27th Street and McCarver Avenue in Tacoma about 1:50 p.m. when the first boom rattled her windows.
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She raced for the front door and clicked the lock in place. Then curiosity got the best of her and she stepped out onto her front porch.
“The streets were lined with neighbors crane-necking, trying to figure out what was going on,” said Elliott, 21. “It was weird. There was no smoke, no sirens, nothing going on.”
Taking advantage of a warm afternoon, two friends were sunning themselves on the rocks along Ruston Way when the pair of booms hit.
Alyssa Wilde, 23, leaped to her feet and scanned the area.
“I literally yelled, ‘I think we’re getting shot at,’ ” she said. “I thought I was dying.”
Her friend, 22-year-old Alyssa Taylor, said she was startled but took everything in stride. She figured it was a car backfiring, or maybe a construction team blowing something up.
“I didn’t really think about it. I was calm,” Taylor said. “I was more scared of (Alyssa) screaming.”
Dozens were grocery shopping at the Safeway in Tacoma’s Proctor District when the building began to shake.
“I heard the noise and everyone stopped and looked around,” said Tim Annan, 22. “We thought something fell on the roof.”
But even the construction workers atop the roof had looks of bewilderment on their faces, Annan said.
Jim Rice and his wife were driving to a waterfront restaurant for lunch when they heard the rumble and felt the car rattle. Rice, a former Boeing employee, said he knew almost immediately that it was a sonic boom.
He blamed Obama.
“He shouldn’t have come here, and we wouldn’t have the sonic booms,” Rice said.