Update: West Seattleites again hear ‘The Hum’

(UPDATED TUESDAY with city response)

7:27 PM: For the first time since our reports on “The Hum” two weeks ago (here, here, and here), we are getting multiple reports that people are hearing it again – so far mostly from eastern West Seattle. Two things, while we check it out: 1. If it’s loud enough where you are, try to record it, and be sure to note the time and place. 2. Be sure to contact the city tomorrow, as per their request in our previous coverage (the phone numbers are at the bottom of this story) – or if they have voicemail, you can even try tonight.

1:05 AM: After continued reports through the evening, plus video/audio clips (see the comments), we set out to see what we could find. Here are the results:

–11:45, heard it in the distance from 30th/Holden. The same rising/falling, oscillating type of sound we heard on Julie’s clip from Highland Park earlier this month. From there, we headed toward Highland Park, since that’s where many reports are from.

–11:55, pulled over on Holden around 11th. Apartments on both sides; only thing we heard, some guys squabbling.

–12:02, while driving along the industrial stretch of West Marginal Way SW north of Highland Park Drive, we heard some industrial noise in the distance north of the parks, past the bus yard – more scraping than humming.

–12:08, pulled over on southbound West Marginal across from Lafarge. Something was definitely in operation. It was a steady noise, though, rather than the rising/falling/oscillating sound heard in the distance, and did not seem particularly overpowering; did not have a dB meter handy. We recorded it for about a minute (sorry about the ticking of our emergency flashers):

(Yes, there’s some aircraft noise mixed in toward the start, too.)

–12:15, pulled over alongside Riverview Playfield, 12th and Othello vicinity. We could hear it toward the east, and pulled out the camera again (no visuals showing because aiming it toward an unlit playfield revealed only darkness):

There, it seemed to have more of the coming-and-going quality heard in the distance. We’ll be checking back with the city later today, among others.

8:14 AM UPDATE: Still more reports have come in via e-mail and the WSB Facebook page and Twitter feed, as well as comments here. We will be checking with the city later. Meantime, the Highland Park Action Committee has added “The Hum” to its agenda for tomorrow night’s monthly meeting – 7 pm Wednesday, HP Improvement Club, 12th/Holden.

5:25 PM UPDATE: We expect to have a longer followup later tonight, but, as discussed in comments, we talked with Lafarge management earlier today – they’re looking for help in providing for once and for all whether it is or isn’t them – and then we checked with the city, whose spokesperson Bryan Stevens replied:

On September 14 DPD inspected Lafarge both during the day, while all of their equipment was up and running, and in the evening around 10pm. Tests immediately across the street found the noise levels were in compliance with the noise ordinance.

Later in the evening hours that same day, an inspector also visited a dozen different sites in West Seattle and took noise measurements. The sites were located from Roxbury to Camp Long and California to 9th Ave SW. All of the noise readings were in compliance with the limits of the noise ordinance. The noise posted in the blog was not detected in any of these locations.

This morning we have received a few more complaints about noise heard last night. We’ll follow up on any leads, but the sporadic nature of the noise makes tracking the source very difficult.

152 Replies to "Update: West Seattleites again hear 'The Hum'"

  • 1000amys September 24, 2012 (7:31 pm)

    I called it in from my porch just now, so hopefully they can hear the hum in the background. The second number had voicemail (I didn’t try the first).

  • stb September 24, 2012 (7:38 pm)

    It’s the 12th man.

  • pollo September 24, 2012 (7:50 pm)

    I head it very clearly late wednesday early thursday last week…on the west side of the junction. It was my first experience with it. Very odd.

  • Catpie September 24, 2012 (7:58 pm)

    I can hear it clearly, for the first time, in Highland Park. Interesting and a little eerie.

  • thayer September 24, 2012 (7:59 pm)

    I’m near the corner of 35th and Roxbury and hear it clearly, although intermittently, right now, to the northeast. I tried recording it but it’s not quite loud enough for my phone or iPod to pick up.

  • moji September 24, 2012 (8:04 pm)

    North and west of the junction is where I’ve heard it too, although not recently. About 11 years ago it seemed almost daily, early mornings, until I moved farther north near Hiawatha…never heard it again until about 6 months ago near Charleston and 44th.

  • Alki Resident September 24, 2012 (8:08 pm)

    This is actually getting creepier as time goes by. Glad we don’t hear it.

  • Alki Resident September 24, 2012 (8:09 pm)

    A quick note: Is there a reward for finding this “Hum”?

  • Andi September 24, 2012 (8:10 pm)

    It is very loud here in Arbor Heights. I’m not too far from 35th and Roxbury. Kinda freakin me out.

    Edit: Feeding the kid right now, so can’t record. :/ if it’s still happening when he’s done I’ll see what I can do.

    Edit again, Husband’s on it!

  • alex September 24, 2012 (8:12 pm)

    The hum is not back. It’s been here the whole time, we can just hear it better. I wonder if Lafarge has a new order in.

  • alex September 24, 2012 (8:17 pm)

    Also, don’t forget to add your location to this map if you haven’t already.


  • Rachel September 24, 2012 (8:18 pm)

    Has anyone tried “hunting” for it? Hop in the car and follow the hum? I would if I didn’t have two little ones to care for.

  • Joe September 24, 2012 (8:20 pm)

    Clearly heard in arbor heights. That’s a metal sound. No doubt.

  • Hoss September 24, 2012 (8:28 pm)

    We’ve been hearing it off and on all night here in Westwood. I never really noticed it before, but tonight it’s very loud.

  • Brandon September 24, 2012 (8:33 pm)

    It’s back alright! I can hear it loud and clear inside my puget ridge area condo with all the windows closed up tight. It’s mostly annoying, but also a little bit fantastic that nobody knows what it is!

  • Keith S. September 24, 2012 (8:38 pm)

    It must be the aliens

  • kas September 24, 2012 (8:41 pm)

    Hear it loud and clear since 6:30pm and its still going. We’re at 32nd in between roxbury and 100th. I can hear it even though we have the hawks game cranked !

  • shed22 September 24, 2012 (8:42 pm)

    No doubt WSB will get to the bottom of this mystery! Crowd sourcing can be very powerful.

    I look forward to watching/hearing how this progresses!

  • Joe September 24, 2012 (8:42 pm)

    iphone video of it, recorded just now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnxcQhnu41w

    You can definitely hear it from 00:00 to 00:37, when it just sort of fades away. It comes back again. Been doing it like that all night. Deep, bass–the recording doesn’t do it credit.

  • westseattledood September 24, 2012 (8:45 pm)

    I just got back from Lafarge. It is the source , as I have said before. Rolled video tonight and will note to the city that I clearly hear it two miles away in Highland Park.

    Drive down to the plant on West Marginal. There is almost no doubt that Lafarge is the source of West Seattle’s hum. Go see and hear for yourselves.

    It is not as loud as before but it is loud and it is Thee Hum (which is actually grinding/mechanical sounds up close).

  • Joe September 24, 2012 (8:47 pm)

    Yeah, look at this Youtube:


    From September 6. Same exact tone. Same way it sort of gently fades off over seconds. That’s from right outside LaFarge. Coincidence?

  • Lisa September 24, 2012 (8:54 pm)

    Hearing it loud and clear off 35th & Thistle to the west.

  • AJP September 24, 2012 (9:11 pm)

    Still can’t hear it around 12th and Roxbury, but all this talk about “The Hum” has made me really notice the airplane noise more!

  • Sunnnnnnny September 24, 2012 (9:20 pm)

    Have been hearing it clearly droning in and out since I came home, recorded the noise from my front porch and my living room couch in Highland Park, called both noise abatement numbers. It has driven me batty since 2009! I’m going to have a hard time sleeping through it tonight. If it’s LaFarge wouldn’t the noise ordinance be enough to curb production after 11pm?

  • Vanessa September 24, 2012 (9:21 pm)

    Tonight it must be the disgruntled mumblings about the refs at the Seahawks/Packers game.

  • Heidi A September 24, 2012 (9:21 pm)

    Hearing it now in Gatewood, 37th & Austin.

  • Troy September 24, 2012 (9:22 pm)

    Heard it a couple times at night here on 30th & Thistle, happening right now with several frequencies, a hum, a vibration. Been going for 10-15 minutes. Stopped at 9:22.

  • Freddy freezer September 24, 2012 (9:23 pm)

    I can hear it pretty strongly on graham and 44th!

  • JC September 24, 2012 (9:30 pm)

    I am behind Fauntleroy Church and can finally hear it. Sounds like some sort of machinery noise.

  • Dirk September 24, 2012 (9:35 pm)

    Waxing & waning but clear and audible in Highland Park (16th & holden). It’s a 200hz tone, just over a low G.

  • ANH September 24, 2012 (9:38 pm)

    I have been hearing it tonight too. 30th and Barton by Westwood village.

  • datamuse September 24, 2012 (9:38 pm)

    I think I might finally hear it! Weirdly, it seems to be louder indoors…there’s so much traffic and airplane noise outside that it drowns it out. Will see if I can get a recording.
    Thought it was bizarre that I hadn’t heard it before since I can practically see Lafarge from my house.

  • Chris September 24, 2012 (9:38 pm)

    Loud and clear from Riverview park. First time we’ve heard it for a couple of weeks. We’ve got our window closed and a fan on and its still loud.

  • jvp September 24, 2012 (9:39 pm)

    26th and Webster– hear loud and clear. Unfortunately, don’t have any kind of recording device. It definitely sounds industrial– a single pitch, increasing and decreasing in volume sporadically. I’ve tried timing the variations in volume, but can’t come up with any pattern. And now it’s time for bed. :)

  • coffee September 24, 2012 (9:49 pm)

    While I was visiting a friend at Roxbury and 12th we heard a very loud boom a bit after 9. Have not heard the hum though.

    • WSB September 24, 2012 (9:50 pm)

      We got a call about that too. Not related, I don’t think, someone claimed there was police activity not far from there – Patrick went to check, nothing happening, a sheriff’s car leaving the area. Will be checking on that tomorrow…

  • Sage September 24, 2012 (9:58 pm)

    Had not really heard it since Labor Day weekend, but it’s quite loud here this evening here on 30th between Webster & Holden. Video from Joe is exactly the sound that’s audible here.

  • Lank September 24, 2012 (9:59 pm)

    I’ve recorded response curves using audio analysis software that clearly show a 16-18dB rise in SPL level at around 210Hz when the hum is audible. There are also two quieter yet still audible overtones around 425Hz and 850Hz. I’m listening from near 14th & Trenton in Highland Park.

    I think that an increase in level at that magnitude during the night hours should interest the City DPD.

  • Tina Norman September 24, 2012 (10:08 pm)

    I herd it as well about a week ago . It was about 2am and my daughter who was fast asleep , Sat directly up three times. I could faintly hear it. It lasted a long time about 2 min to 3 min . I thought it was . I think it is the triumphant of Angels . After it subsided for a little while I herd it start again. This has been herd on Queen Anne as well .

  • Lisa Hegle (Boettger) September 24, 2012 (10:13 pm)

    7000 block of 29th –
    Gurr. another night of no sleep!

  • Shawn September 24, 2012 (10:17 pm)

    I hear it right now. Directly north of Highland Park Way and Holden.

  • Snowflake September 24, 2012 (10:26 pm)

    21st and Cambridge, hearing it right now, it’s LOUD….wait! now it’s gone.

  • Hollyfantastic September 24, 2012 (10:39 pm)

    Such a strange noise, waxing and waning. I’m on the hill overlooking the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal. Stupid, mysterious, loud hum!

  • Lisa September 24, 2012 (10:49 pm)

    We live on a fault line and are surrounded by volcanoes.

  • WsBoB September 24, 2012 (10:52 pm)

    I do secretly enjoy this because we live off a hill and do not hear it. But I feel for you guys. I think westseattledo… Has it figured out with Lafarge. How about 1 person heads down there, 1 heads to arbor heights and 1 to lets say the water towers on 35th. Call each other when the noise starts or stops or gets louder. I would even be the guy at the towers (but I dont know what it sounds like). If you all want to get pitchforks and torches and head down to Lafarge, i will join you for something to do.

  • westseattledood September 24, 2012 (11:24 pm)

    WsBob, LOL!

  • TS September 24, 2012 (11:54 pm)

    +1. Hearing it for the last 20 mins. Kenyon /41st in Gatewood.

  • finally hear it September 25, 2012 (12:13 am)

    Thought you all were crazy… But hearing it loud and clear at 34th and Webster for about 20 minutes now. Waxing and waning and annoying!!! This has to be found and stopped.

  • Dick September 25, 2012 (12:16 am)

    That’s no hum, it’s the whine of frustrated Packer fans.

  • josh September 25, 2012 (12:17 am)

    Hearing it intermittently in High Point around midnight.

  • Brian September 25, 2012 (1:00 am)

    If you get off your butts and drive down to Lafarge you’ll find loud and clear your source. I recorded it loud and clear the last time from right in font of the plant.

  • Brian September 25, 2012 (1:03 am)

    Omg the failure of science in our schools is evident with quips like we’re on a fault line or, it’s the fish. People! It’s the cement plant Lafarge!

  • Rachel September 25, 2012 (1:42 am)

    Just woke for a newborn feeding and it’s still going. A little softer now, but I definitely hear it at 13th & Cloverdale.

  • Chris September 25, 2012 (1:59 am)

    Well, the hum finally drove me out of bed, and I spent the last hour driving around and trying to pin this down. I got pretty damn close.

    It is definitely not coming from Lafarge — there is noise coming form there, but it’s a consistent sound — not the throbbing, waxing and waning sound I’m hearing from my house. It’s also not loud enough.

    I kept stopping and listening, and finally found a spot very, very close to the source. I’ve marked it on a Google Map, along with a line showing the direction the sound was coming from: http://goo.gl/maps/sWjEc

    Here’s the recording I made from that spot:

    The sound is either coming from the pier or the ship docked there, or it’s coming from across the Duwamish, where GlacierNW/CalPortland is.

    I drove over the bridge to East Marginal Way and parked at the Jack in the Box to see if I could hear it from there, but I couldn’t. But there’s a lot of other noise going on over there so I’m not sure what that means.

    OK, I’m going to try and sleep. I’ll follow up with the city tomorrow.

  • Cheryl September 25, 2012 (2:51 am)

    Noway to record, but hearing it pretty strongly for about the last 1/2 hour. 27th & elmgrove

  • ANH September 25, 2012 (2:54 am)

    It’s still going!

  • Tim September 25, 2012 (3:31 am)

    Blah, 3:30am and the hum has woken me up.

  • Humdinger September 25, 2012 (3:42 am)

    Ok, loud and clear and relentless at 31st and Elm Grove. Rising and falling, but persistent since early evening. Really noticeable now. So much so I got up to post. All windows and doors closed. Seriously, the city can’t hear this obnoxious noise?

  • Kristina September 25, 2012 (3:51 am)

    It woke me up and it is loud and annoying. This is my first time hearing it. 45th and Brandon right now.

  • Amy September 25, 2012 (4:10 am)

    woke up at 3:19: able to hear the hum very loud & clear at 29th & kenyon (by e.c. hughes). unfortunately, i have no recording devise. definitely waxing & waning (loudly). house sits up high facing east. always assumed it was something industrial along marginal way churning away. very loud still/hasn’t stopped now at 4:10.

  • B. Tatro September 25, 2012 (4:13 am)

    We live on 24th Ave SW near Trenton and have heard “the hum” before. This morning, I woke up to the sound at about 3:25am (it’s still going 40 m later). It seems to last 30 – 40 seconds, growing in intensity before fading out. It can be heard clearly even w/ the windows shut. Impossible to sleep w/ this going on.

  • Seaview Gal September 25, 2012 (4:39 am)

    I didn’t hear it yesterday but it woke me up around 3:15 this morning. It seemed to get more sporadic (and louder) at 3:30, and is still sporadic and loud at 4:30. I’m near 46th and Brandon. I’ll call the noise inspectors.

  • Rachel September 25, 2012 (5:08 am)

    Baby feeding- and the hum is still there!!

  • alex September 25, 2012 (5:24 am)

    WSB, the recording you made at 12:05 am you say doesn’t have the hum, but it does. In the last part, at about minute 1:30, it is apparent. What your recording has – and what mine did a few weeks ago – covers only the overtones. It is difficult to hear the low droning sounds when you’re on top of them.

    What startled me most about the sound this time around is that I can now hear the overtones while I stand on the front porch.

    It is Lafarge.

  • redblack September 25, 2012 (5:44 am)

    i wonder if that sound – whatever the source – is magnified by resonance through the municipal sewer pipes. might explain why datamuse and others hear it louder indoors.

  • Sage September 25, 2012 (5:54 am)

    Brian – have you shared that Lafarge recording anywhere?

  • Sage September 25, 2012 (5:57 am)

    Thanks to WSB for the research! The hum was a fairly intermittent last night — on for 15 minute stretches, off (or quieter at least) for a bit, then back on — so it’s hard to draw any big conclusions from the lack of a hum in one place at any one specific time.

  • Dan September 25, 2012 (6:01 am)

    The noise I always thought was something at Boeing or something from the Georgetown area?
    I have heard this noise off and on as long as I can remember from my childhood back in the 1960’s.
    My neighbor thinks it is Lafarge.
    I have never thought to try and track it down?!
    I believe the reason you don’t hear it all the time is because of atmospheric conditions,
    ie the wind and other noises that block it out, and
    some nights the conditions are right for the noise to carry more than others.

    What I want to know is, what is the white powder that covers everything.
    Some days in our neighborhood (Riverview) we find a white powder that covers everything.
    Shows up the most on your freshly washed cars and only happens in the middle of the night.
    It only happens a couple of times durring the year.
    Whatever it is could be very unhealthy!

  • CMP September 25, 2012 (6:28 am)

    I think I actually heard it this morning when I left my apartment around 6:10 am. I’m at 35th and Austin…and I’ll add a disclaimer that I’ve NEVER noticed the noise before so I was a little surprised. I figured “this MUST be the mysterious hum everyone has been blogging about!”.

  • Troy September 25, 2012 (6:51 am)

    The noise did not abate at 9:22pm on 30th, it was audible all night and seemed louder when I left at 4:30am. I’ve heard it for about two weeks, mostly late night, but last night/this morning was the loudest.

  • Delridge Denizen September 25, 2012 (6:57 am)

    Sorry everyone, I left the bathroom fan on again.

  • Lisa September 25, 2012 (6:58 am)

    Has anyone ever driven over to the South Park Independent Metals? For some reason the city inspector I spoke with thought it might be them…

  • keh September 25, 2012 (7:31 am)

    I was awakened at 3 a.m. by the “hum” and was kept awake off and on for more than an hour. We’re at Morgan Junction.

  • JenF September 25, 2012 (7:35 am)

    34th & Othello- started 6 or 7 ish last night and still going on here at 7 am. Great investigating WSB. Since so many people think Lefarge is the source, perhaps they should be contacted and asked about the timing of when their machinery produces noise. Then if it correlates with the times the hum is reported, we can confirm it. Let’s all ask the city when we report what we hear.

  • RickM September 25, 2012 (7:52 am)

    Heard it in Arbor Heights around 9:30pm. I tried to record it but we had too much traffic on our road.

  • cs in hp September 25, 2012 (8:01 am)

    i heard it off and on all day yesterday- not just in the evening. am convinced it’s LaFarge as well. We’ll add this to the HPAC agenda for Wednesday night and discuss what more we can do as a community to address this… 12th and holden, 7:00 mtg. (6:30 potluck).

  • Dusty Mixture September 25, 2012 (8:07 am)

    Probably not LaFarge! I think it’s the running of the Continuous Mixer and production line at the BPB (British Plaster Board) Gypsum plant at 5931 East Marginal Way S. 98134. (Google “Plasterboard manufacturing process”)

  • patt September 25, 2012 (8:08 am)

    Maybe it is something like the cave on my grandfathers island in Norway that acted like a megaphone for the sea a mile away.

    or accidental whispering dish :-)
    there could be a paraboloid in this.

  • patt September 25, 2012 (8:11 am)

    Or maybe Lefarge, like a bad rooftop AC unit goes out of sync every once in a while.

  • lox September 25, 2012 (8:13 am)

    It’s obviously LaFarge. So where do we go from here?

  • MB September 25, 2012 (8:15 am)

    Heard it last night at 28th and Myrtle and yes, CMP, I heard it again this morning when I got up and as I was leaving at 7am. I am a believer that LaFarge is the culprit.

  • S September 25, 2012 (8:44 am)

    It is the Langoliers, we have been very bad and they are coming for us.

  • Justme September 25, 2012 (8:47 am)

    maybe it’s a sewage ejector at Nicklesville?

  • jvp September 25, 2012 (9:01 am)

    We still heard it at @6:30/7:00 *am* this morning, up the hill from Home Depot.

    Reading this thread, I have a new theory. What if the “hum” doesn’t have a single source? What if it’s a combination of multiple sources– sound waves intersecting with one another, maybe amplified by the Duwamish? This would explain why various components of the hum can be found in different locations, and why it seems so prevalent between Genessee and Roxbury. Here’s an image that illustrates what I mean:


    Lay that over WS with Lafarge as the “primary sound source” and add however many “secondary sound sources” as there are that surround us, and maybe that’s a clue?

    I don’t know enough about physics or acoustics to even know how to begin to look into this possibility, but it’s a thought….

  • Rachel September 25, 2012 (9:02 am)

    I can still hear it now at 13th & Cloverdale. I hear it over the noise of my 3-year-old playing, and my baby’s squeaky rocking chair AND white noise!

  • DBM September 25, 2012 (9:09 am)

    Lafarge , what a nice neighbor. First they polluted the air with a bleachy stench, and now the polute the air with a annoying hummm.

  • N September 25, 2012 (9:12 am)

    Heard it around midnight at 32nd & Othello. Was already up, so it didn’t wake me. I agree the volume for some probably depends a bit on atmospheric conditions. On certain nights we here way more noise from Harbor Island than others here at the top of hill.

  • Seattle dweller September 25, 2012 (9:16 am)

    Is there a way to find out what business on the river have ships coming in and out- and when? Maybe we can request a schedule from the business for some connect the dots?

  • Al September 25, 2012 (9:22 am)

    It woke me up too, I didn’t check the time, but it must have been when everyone else was woken up, around 3:00 am. It was really loud, almost a grinding noise intermittently with machinery humming. We are at 37th/Morgan.

  • Lara September 25, 2012 (9:29 am)

    It woke me up before my alarm this morn around 3am. I had the radio and coffee maker going while getting ready for work, with all the doors and windows shut I could STILL hear it and almost feel it. This seemed to be the loudest yet. Was still going strong as I left for work after 4am, near Sealth HS

  • Wetone September 25, 2012 (9:35 am)

    I think as Chris said above that Glacier bay or one of the other large plants down on the dirty doo are responsible for the noise. When I’m down at my boat ( harbor island ) and they are unloading the barges you here a similar noise and the equipment runs untill the barges are unloaded and as they are processing their product .

  • datamuse September 25, 2012 (10:16 am)

    That’s an interesting idea, redblack, though I figured it was just that the hum’s main frequency seems to be fairly low (I don’t have the equipment to measure this, but it’s a bass sound to my ear). Low frequency sounds travel more readily through solid surfaces such as walls and I thought that might have something to do with why I heard it more clearly indoors, when the walls and windows were mostly blocking the car and airplane noise that are constant.

    • WSB September 25, 2012 (10:45 am)

      Update here in short, before a longer version later.
      Just talked to the boss at the Lafarge plant. They actually contacted us – I was planning on calling later, after checking with the city, etc.
      There is nothing they were doing in the past day or so that they hadn’t done since Labor Day weekend, when the last round of widespread reports came up.
      He says in fact one of his employees heard the sound last night and contacted him. They tried turning off one piece of equipment they thought might be a factor. It didn’t change anything, he says.
      But they’re hoping for the chance to prove whether it is or isn’t them. He says the comment phone line they set up after the post-Labor Day round has not yielded much in terms of productive comments, though there is one person they’re talking with and hope to hear from if it happens again tonight. So if you would be willing to be contacted in that vein – so they know if/when it happens and can see for once and for all if it really is them – please leave a message for them: 206-336-0988
      However, please remember it has not been determined to definitively be them. As the plant manager acknowledges – it’s an industrial facility and it makes noise. So if you choose to contact the city, please be objective about what you hear, where and when, what it sounds like.

  • Bob Zickes September 25, 2012 (10:17 am)

    I heard the hum again last night. Whoever is makng this noise knows who they are. For a few weeks, they probably curtailed their operations until the public outcry died down. Now, they are at it a gain. That recording of the noise posted earlier is pretty convincing to me. What is the City’s Abatement Program doing on this? It seems like we haven’t heard anything from them in a while. Bob Z.

  • sam-c September 25, 2012 (10:33 am)

    I heard it, only briefly, around 4:45 am, just for about 20 minutes or so. (in puget ridge- in a valley west of SSCC near Juneau)

  • Kay K September 25, 2012 (11:02 am)

    Thanks Tracy- I agree. Don’t complain about LaFarge unless you have reached out to try and have something changed. I’m going to meet with them tonight and point out the sound, then they can call the plant and have things turned on and off to check and see if they are the source point.

    I tend to agree with Chris above that the noise is not them, it is coming from a vacuum un-loader pulling raw materials out of a ship that is moored to the south of their location. There was a ship in that dock over Labor Day weekend as well.

    I would also like to point out that all these businesses employ our neighbors and contribute to the tax base of the city, and in fact made a bunch of the materials in our very homes. We could off source everything to China that made any noise or was dirty, but I for one like to know where the things I use come from and what the implications of their manufacture are.

  • jvp September 25, 2012 (11:08 am)

    I still think it’s wave interference from multiple sources bouncing back and uphill from the Duwamish. Check out this site:


    There’s a Java-based simulator here:


    Playing around with the settings, esp on 3d, gives some patterns of distribution pretty similar to the Google map. Can’t export images, unfortunately, but it’s a pretty neat little applet.

  • westseattledood September 25, 2012 (11:47 am)

    I am on phone. Can somebody search ship. “Silver Lake”. At pier north of Northland. Giant vacuum cleaner is unloading cement from it but unknown if unloading for Glacier or Lafarge – at that location on river it could be either. Anon source told me unloading of cement-or whatever- from ships takes time if it rains because they stop and close the hatches every time it even drizzles to protect product. I was told Silver Lake shop has been getting unloaded via giant vacuum (“which rolls around in volume”) for the past week. They do it 24/7 if no rain till it is empty and next ship comes in.

    I believe as of this AM that we all have been hearing both Lafarge source, ship unloading source and recycling place on East Marginal.

    I got video of ship, too .

    I will be at HPAC meeting on Wednesday. Hope to see everyone there.

  • flynlo September 25, 2012 (11:57 am)

    For what it’s worth: Bring up marinetraffic.com, zoom in on the area that chris points to on his google map page. Marinetraffic.com shows a bulk cargo carrier – Silver Lake, moored to the dock that chris’s line point to. Are you hearing the sounds of pumps/augers/blowers unloading bulk cargo? (Edited to correct previous posters name!!)

  • Justme September 25, 2012 (11:58 am)

    It’s a very large metal lathe. There must be a metal machine shop of some kind. Someplace that makes nuts and bolts, airplane parts, automotive parts, etc…

  • Justme September 25, 2012 (12:04 pm)

    Washington Machine Works looks like a valid possibility as they are directly across from the map link a blog reader provided above.


    From someone who works with this kind of machinery it’s very highly possibly a METAL LATHE.

  • westseattledood September 25, 2012 (12:22 pm)


    Yeah, well he has the time frame wrong evidently. Those sources encouraged, as in implored, me to contact their customer service mgr. at the nearby location I called you from. One had industrial protective earphones on WITH MP3 player on underneath and he still could hear it every darn day and had constant pain in back of head. The other source said they “feel” it, as well as hear it every darn day. But it isn’t their company….terrible.

    After Labor Day, I made a few phone calls to businesses – not Lafarge – to find out if they were operating on Labor Day. But I also let them know industries on the Duwamish are valued, but sdmething is keeping people awake and until some kind of resolution is determined, for them to expect inquiry and investigation. Nobody has had a problem with it, yet. ;)

  • westseattledood September 25, 2012 (12:24 pm)


    Yeah, well he has the time frame wrong evidently. Those sources encouraged, as in implored, me to contact their customer service mgr. at the nearby location I called you from. One had industrial protective earphones on WITH MP3 player on underneath and he still could hear it every darn day and had constant pain in back of head. The other source said they “feel” it, as well as hear it every darn day. But it isn’t their company….terrible.

    After Labor Day, I made a few phone calls to businesses – not Lafarge – to find out if they were operating on Labor Day because that was the day I heard a noise the loudest.. But I also let them know industries on the Duwamish are valued by me, but sdmething is keeping people awake and until some kind of resolution is determined, for them to expect
    inquiry and investigation. Nobody has had a
    problem with it, yet. At least in MY interactions.

  • westsidemegan September 25, 2012 (12:30 pm)

    We live on 15th and Holden and have heard the hum for weeks now. Most of the time is very quiet. But last night it was louder and then this morning around 7:15 when I went up to riverview park to walk my dog, it was just as loud. Its certainly coming from somewhere NE of there. Could it be the drilling for the tunnel??

    • WSB September 25, 2012 (1:07 pm)

      Megan – they’re not drilling the tunnel yet. Just digging its launch pit, from the surface by the south end of what remains of the AWV.

  • Tim September 25, 2012 (1:21 pm)

    Haunted by the hum all night. I could even hear it in the middle of my basement. I finally went out hunting for it at 4am. Started at 39th and Thistle and chased it in a northeasterly direction (neighborhoods along Holden, Home Depot parking lot), finally losing it around 5am at the 7-11 near 16th and Austin. Brought my wrist rocket just in case….

  • Grigs September 25, 2012 (2:07 pm)

    This may be another unrelated hum, but I lived at Highpoint (37th & Webster) from 2009-2011 and from my second floor bedroom heard a low droning hum every night starting at 11pm or midnight that would carry on for hours with intermittent fade-outs. Does anyone else around Highpoint hear that? I figured everyone knew what it was but me. It wasn’t ferries unless they were parked and revving their engines all night. Drove me NUTS. Now I live at Delridge and Thistle and at least with this recent hum I am in good company in my suffering.

  • Livin' in WS since '91 September 25, 2012 (2:15 pm)

    I had heard of the HUM from the blog, but never heard it until 3:30 this morning. The dog was barking to go out to do business at this time, but he ran out to the perimeter of the yard and just nosed around. The moment I opened the door (37th & Barton) I could hear a loud HUM noise, and immediately knew this was THE HUM. Since I’m above the Fauntleroy docks, I thought perhaps this was a ferry, but it was louder than the ones I’ve heard in the past. I’m just thankful it isn’t loud enough to wake me, as I’d be a tad bit cranky at that. Hope we can find out the source of this mystery.

  • yacman September 25, 2012 (2:20 pm)

    I’d like to apologize to everyone for my snoring.

  • Lisa S September 25, 2012 (3:55 pm)

    I can hear it now from 13th Ave SW and Myrtle

  • Nemobeanbean September 25, 2012 (3:57 pm)

    Haven’t noticed it this time but these video’s attached of Lafarge prove it’s them because THAT IS THE SOUND!!!

    We’re located in the N. Shorewood neighborhood.

  • Tanej September 25, 2012 (4:03 pm)

    The Hum woke me up at 4am today! Strong, then fading, then strong again – over & over! Worst I have ever heard. I’m at 35th & Dakota, by the way. Usually, the Hum is just a background noise, but this morning it overshadowed any of the other road and port noises. Just amazing!

  • BP September 25, 2012 (5:43 pm)

    I live north of Admiral on Cali Ave and I haven’t heard a thing… aside from the trains, the ferries and occasional planes that can be heard throughout the night. And I’m up all hours of the night… and I always sleep with my windows open… and I have great hearing… and I’m an audio engineer!

    I’m fascinated by this story, but I haven’t heard hum one. It’s weird that it seems to be so localized. If it was something atmospheric (or, gulp, aliens!), one would think it would be MUCH wider spread across, not just West Seattle, but ALL of Seattle.

    Could this just be a practical joke?? I’m a song writer and have many synthesizer audio libraries – and I have some sounds that are just about identical to the hum on the videos that have been posted. If one were so motivated, ‘m sure it’s possible to broadcast these sounds in a way that make it hard to tell where it’s coming from – but I’m just thinking out loud.

  • danielle r September 25, 2012 (5:43 pm)

    I have heard it in COLUMBIA CITY/MT BAKER area for the past 2 nights. Please God, not tonight!!!

    Perhaps the maker of a new sleeping pill is trying to increase their patient population… If so, it is working!

  • will kersten September 25, 2012 (7:19 pm)

    We live elsewhere in the sound (Marrowstone Island) and have heard a low droning hum especially late at night for years. My wife doesn’t mind or notice much, but it kept me up. We have recently moved to Port Townsend and don’t hear it as much here. I have always assumed it had something to do with the military bases in the area. It’s super annoying, and more than a bit disconcerting. Wonder if the hum out here is related to the hum in West Seattle…

  • MPeterson September 25, 2012 (9:48 pm)

    I have heard the hum many nights over the last 2-3 years. It’s like a pulsating long tone. It’s very strange. (44th and Holden)

  • Long Time WS Res. September 25, 2012 (10:00 pm)

    @ Kay K… Finally, someone sensible speaks. You thought it could be Lafarge, you called and it sounds like they’re working with you. Please let us know your result. I’m surprised westseattledood hasn’t gone knocking on the door since he’s been one of the biggest accusers on all 3 blogs but has gone to other companies to investigate. Odd.

    @Nemobeanbean… The sound in the videos across from Lafarge are not the same sound. Lafarge is a steady noise and according to the city, in compliance or do you feel a conspiracy? The “Hum” is a vibrating oscillation noise. Very different.

    What ever happened to “Innocent until proven guilty?

    A well done investigation brings out the facts and that”s what we need, are facts and not accusations and bandwagons of hearsay.

    Just my two cents.

    • WSB September 25, 2012 (10:25 pm)

      Update – We are at Lafarge right now as part of an experiment the plant manager is running to try to see if the plant here is a factor. The plant’s running, same steady sound I heard (and videotaped) last night, but while “The Hum” was heard in Highland Park for a while earlier, it apparently is not audible now. There’s a contingent up there, as well as down here, and if the HP contingent (which includes co-publisher Patrick) up there says they hear it, the folks here will shut down what’s running. The ship-related operation that was suggested as a possible factor is apparently still running right now too. So the mystery continues … might not solve it tonight after all … but Lafarge is making a good-faith effort to see if they are a factor. – TR

  • Jason September 25, 2012 (10:28 pm)

    I love how certain people are ABSOLUTELY 100% sure of the source; “It’s LaFarge” “It’s a Metal Lathe” “It’s the power lines hummming” etc. like they have it all figured out and the rest of us, including the experts, are obviously idiots.
    Anyway, what we need is some type of automated text alerting system people can sign up for – if the sound is heard (i.e. by WSB) they can send out a text message to everyone on the list that it is happening, and they can go out and listen for it, try to record it, etc. and post their own findings. Just an idea.

  • thayer September 25, 2012 (11:21 pm)

    Not sure if you’re still investigating it at the moment, but I’ve been hearing it again tonight (same as last night, near 35th & Roxbury) and have been since about 10pm.

    • WSB September 25, 2012 (11:39 pm)

      The “is it Lafarge?” attempt folded up around 11 pm, after 45 minutes of listening from HP and awaiting word at the plant to try shutting things off to see. However, after we left there, we checked out the aforementioned-by-several facility to the south where a ship is apparently being unloaded. Wow. THAT sound (which I have on video) was exactly what I heard and what others had described last night. It was going full blast. BUT – we then drove uphill to spots including Riverview Park (12th/Othello area) where I heard it last night, and couldn’t hear it at all. Atmospheric conditions maybe? Sound carries to different spots? It’ll be discussed at tomorrow night’s HPAC meeting (7 pm Wednesday, Highland Park Improvement Club, 12th/Holden) with a few guests expected, so those who are interested, come on down … TR

  • Kay K September 25, 2012 (11:37 pm)

    Yep, just confirming it was a heroic effort, with both Tracy and Patrick of the blog turning out as well as plant manager Jonathan-plus 4-5 of his plant staff (many of whom live right here in West Seattle) who drove in to work after their regular work days to run the experiment of shutting down the plant to see if the hum stops.

    Unfortunately, the hum failed to show up for the party, at least audibly in Highland Park when half the group arrived here. We could clearly hear it on a dock down by the river where a ship was being unloaded with a vacuum system, but it had waned up on the hillside.

    Our plan was to shut off the plant, and see what the effect was on the hum, but without the hum present, the experiment was dubbed inconclusive and we called it a night.

    LaFarge plant manager Jonathan did take the opportunity to give a couple of us neighbors a drive through tour of their plant-running at its normal noise level, they have some fans on top of their storage towers for dust control and some compressors too, but nothing with the whiny, metallic, set your teeth on edge noise of the “humm”.

    So we will have to re-convene when we get a strong recurrence of the problem. (Sorry sleepless parents.) Jonathan is game and asked us to call him day or night when we get the phenomena happening. Hopefully earlier in the day next time as yours truly had also worked a full 8 hour shift before this endeavor.

    I add as a side note that I was very impressed by his open-minded willingness to work with the community to figure out if the source of the noise was his plant and try to mitigate it if it was.

  • westseattledood September 25, 2012 (11:51 pm)

    Perhaps WSB’s Lafarge contingent will ask if they receive materials at the pier where the Silver Lake is anchored and observed offloading? Or maybe they can provide insight into which of the three transnational cement companies at that curve on the river might be responsible for the giant vacuum cleaner type equipment.

    I am almost to the point of not daring to care because I don’t really have the time for this. So somebody (like a city inspector) should drive down East Marginal and turn east on Fidalgo. At the end of Fidalgo St. is a tiny park which has a complete view of where the ship is unloading. If somebody is motivated, when things start humming, get down there and see if it is a second source. I think it is.

    But I also think the recycling/metal place AND a forging plant also create loud noises which periodically carry.

    If people are not calling City Noise complaint numbers (which can only be found by following story links) then city won’t have data to work with.

    It is NOT enough to complain here or FB (which I am not on, btw) and expect others to complain for you. If you hear the hum or any noise and it bothers you, call thr city.

    The noises don’t bother me. I am use to planes, trains, and ships and trucks and can easily tune the noises out. I hope it gets resolved for those who are losing sleep. Good luck.

    • WSB September 26, 2012 (12:12 am)

      The ship is not unloading materials for Lafarge. But when it’s done, it’s apparently going to dock at some empty space they have. Jonathan Hall, the Lafarge boss, told me earlier today, “We do use the same shipping company and ships to import our material, but unload them in a very different manner. The last ship with cargo for us arrived on August 25th.”

  • buddsmom September 25, 2012 (11:55 pm)

    Very clearly being heard in Arbor Heights.

  • RickM September 25, 2012 (11:57 pm)

    Hearing it in Arbor Heights right now.

  • datamuse September 26, 2012 (12:03 am)

    I have no idea if it’s the same hum, but I’ve been hearing one now for an hour and wow, it’s loud. Highland Park just at the top of the hill.

  • Erithan September 26, 2012 (1:25 am)

    Hearing it again as well, thought I was going nuts Monday!(though it wasn’t as loud as before).

    Low and behold it’s back again tonight, and seems to be louder! arrrgh!

    I live in the High Point area, down past the GY and a bit past the new construction going on right now.

  • Henchman21 September 26, 2012 (1:35 am)

    There it is…09.26.12 @ 1:30 AM. I live at California and Alaska. Maybe it’s Walter White making blue meth ;)

  • David September 26, 2012 (1:41 am)

    The hum is very noticeable tonight. I’m on 32nd SW just south of the soccer field.

  • Rachel September 26, 2012 (2:44 am)

    Hearing it in Highland Park.

  • Alyssa September 26, 2012 (2:53 am)

    I can hear it right now near kenyon and 35th, too quiet to record, but it’s oscillating, gets louder than softer. Weird!

  • Alisa September 26, 2012 (4:08 am)

    I’ve heard it up here near Roxburry and Delridge clearly for the last two nights. I can feel it in my eardrums it’s such a weird frequency I thought it was tinitus acting up. First noticed it from about 3am to a little past 4am or s o, but even after that i thought i might be able to hear it jst at a much lower volume.. It seems to get quieter and louder almost like it’s moving. Described it as a fog horn that’s very far away and mixed with an electrical buzz. This is normal bedtime for me and is keeping me up… somone said we need a texting service to pinpoint this, could someone make an app for that :P

  • ANH September 26, 2012 (5:19 am)

    It’s louder this morning. Woke me up again.

  • Gary September 26, 2012 (6:11 am)

    I’ve heard the hum multiple times and I am losing sleep. I heard it again last night. Has anyone considered Nucor Steel? They use an Electric Arc Furnace to process their steel which is like a constant bolt of lightning. The sound is loud enough to wake me up and it is getting old.

  • anonyme September 26, 2012 (6:21 am)

    Loud in Arbor Heights right now (Wednesday morning) and has been most of the night.

  • LadyBusiness September 26, 2012 (8:07 am)

    The hum was exceptionally loud last night here in South Delridge — the loudest I’ve ever heard it

  • Koni September 26, 2012 (8:10 am)

    Argh! Another sleepless night…we are at 41st and Monroe and it was going all night again (first woke me up at 1:15 am but went on for hours) The sound/vibration literally makes your body hum in a really unpleasant way…it definitely feels like a mechanical/manmade rhythm, cannot wait for this to be resolved!!!

  • Justme September 26, 2012 (9:33 am)

    It’s a METAL LATHE.

  • VWTimus September 26, 2012 (9:46 am)

    I’ve been working the late shift so I’ve been doing some recon on the way back home. With Lafarge acting as the whipping boy, I figured I’d swing by some of the factories on the other side of the water way. Parked on Mead and E Marginal you can hear the noise emanating from one of the two facilities located there. Might be worth a call to Longview Fiber or whatever that huge place directly North is…

  • Brandon September 26, 2012 (9:58 am)

    Heard it last night at 1:30ish last night as well. it doesnt keep me up by any means but i am interested to know what the noise is

  • Gin Johnson September 26, 2012 (10:27 am)

    I heard it this morning 9/26/2012 at 4:30AM. It was very load and very scary. It sounded like it was coming from inside the ground. Like being in a sci-fi movie.

  • Gin Johnson September 26, 2012 (10:28 am)

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I live in Arbor Heights in the area of Ocean View and 114th SW.

  • Jason September 26, 2012 (8:20 pm)

    Whatever, for the third time, JustME… Thank God we have your EXPERT opinion.

  • Marie September 26, 2012 (8:46 pm)

    We hear it every night. We live right by Riveriew Playfield. I hear it no – a constant humming and the windows are closed.

  • ellany September 27, 2012 (9:44 pm)

    I am hearing that hum again off and on and it’s on again right now, 9:43 p.m. 9-27-12. Am on 32nd near Juneau St.

  • Maybe? September 28, 2012 (8:47 pm)

    Just this year people in many parts of the world have heard a mysterious Hum sound. Costa Rica for one, but also in the Ukraine and Russia. Look it up on You Tube maybe?

  • Randy October 12, 2012 (2:23 pm)

    I live in Monroe WA and pickup my son everyday after school at approx 2pm.

    Beginning Tues or Wed (9th or 10th) I began hearing (and feeling) a VERY low frequency (20hz-50hz) while parked at Monroe High School.

    The first time it happened I thought my car was the culprit. Turned off engine but vibration continued. Then I figured it was the car in front of me.

    Today I had no cars around me and I felt and heard it come and go 2-3 times over a 20 minute period.

Sorry, comment time is over.