Has The 148th Fighter Wing Been Extra Loud Over Duluth Lately? An Explanation Behind The Extra Jet Noise
Following a fly-over earlier this week, a group of us here at the radio station got to talking about how the fighter jets from the 148th Fighter Wing seem to either be louder or more active than normal lately, and we aren't the only ones having that conversation. Someone posed the question on the Duluth Reddit, with a range of "Reddit-worthy" responses accompanied by some that seem pretty educated on the subject.
Reddit user Prosequare, speaking as though he/she has personal knowledge and experience with the base, they explain that the flight schedules tend to be pretty consistent through the year (assuming they aren't elsewhere in the country/world). One of the key x-factors is weather, which two different people says is the culprit for the extra noise lately - for a couple different reasons.
Prosequare references the air temperatures and air pressure we've been seeing lately have been conducive to sound traveling a further distance. In particular, colder air temperatures are a factor.
Without getting to science-y, sound generally travels faster through less-dense warm air. Think of it as less "stuff" getting in the way of the sound waves to get from the source to your ears. On the other hand, sound travels farther (propagates) through more dense, colder air because it is more conductive.
Another user, going by the name Trall006, also mentions that the predominantly northwesterly wind has led to usage of runways and flight paths that place the jets over town at lower altitudes. While Trall006 doesn't mention it, those same northwesterly winds could also be directing sound back toward the populated areas downwind from the runways.
One other general weather-related factor that may impact how "loud" jets are through the year is something called temperature inversion. In short, warmer air aloft with colder temperatures closer to the ground can lead to sound getting refracted back down toward the ground and also allowing sound to carry farther distances. While there are different types of temperature inversions caused by different factors, inversions are common at sundown and during winter months.
On top of all of that, it is worth remembering that the 148th Fighter Wing aren't the only jets in the Duluth airspace. Both private and commercial jets regularly use the Duluth International Airport, and those same sound and weather rules apply to them as well.
While no one of these explanations may be the reason for the extra noise, they all may be playing a role in the extra noise lately.