JBLM rocket testing could create sonic booms

by: Colleen West Updated:

© 2017 Cox Media Group.

People around the South Sound may hear sonic booms in the next two months during rocket testing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

  • Blasts from the rockets can reach 130 decibels
  • Could break sound barrier and create sonic booms
  • 27 rockets will be fired over 3 days in March
  • Neighbors writing Army to protest training

The Army plans to test more than two dozen rockets. The blast from the rockets can reach 130 decibels, which is louder than a rock concert or a jet 1,000 feet overhead.

This kind of rocket testing has never been done at JBLM before. The rockets, called high mobility artillery rocket systems, are usually set off in Yakima and travel fast enough to break the sound barrier, potentially creating sonic booms.

The News Tribune reports that training at JBLM instead of Yakima would save $227,000 per trip, which soldiers typically take twice a year.

Over three days in March, 27 rockets will be shot toward an area near the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge east of Interstate 5, and the training would be done between Lacey and DuPont. The News Tribune reports that the Nisqually Tribe and many people who live in the area wrote letters to protest the rocket firings.

In its letter, the tribe expressed concern that the rockets will upset salmon at the hatchery nearby, as well as nearby animals and reservation residents.

One woman who wrote to JBLM said her husband suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and the booms would traumatize him.

The rocket training in March is a trial and will help determine if more testing will be done at JBLM in the future.