A concert held by Beyoncé and her back-up singer in San Francsico last night seemed extra loud to some folks in the Bay Area thanks to a common weather phenomenon we'll just assume she controls. This same atmospheric quirk is usually responsible for most widely-heard and often mysterious booms and roars...and superstars, apparently.
The phenomenon is known as an inversion, which occurs when a layer of warmer air sits on top of a pocket of cooler air at the surface. The layer of warm air acts like a ceiling or cap in the atmosphere, preventing air from rising above it. If you've ever heard the weatherman say that "the cap" is preventing storms, this is what he's talking about.
This cap also acts to reflect sound waves back towards the earth. In this case, the sound from last night's concert hit the cap and reflected back into the city, annoying and serenading thousands.
People who live near military bases and quarries are well acquainted with the phenomenon, as explosions from munitions testing or rock blasting are also reflected by these inversions and the sound/pressure waves can travel long distances as a result.
In one famous case, the Mythbusters shot an explosive episode ("Knock Your Socks Off") in Esparto, California when the shockwave from one of their blasts encountered an inversion layer. The pressure from the explosion reflected off the cap and back towards the ground, shattering "a handful of windows" in the neighboring community.
There's no word if Beyoncé's voice caused any damage to the city.
[Images via AP and the author]