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Residents of Edinburgh called the police in the early hours of the morning as a rare weather event, known as “thundersnow,” caused panic and sounded like “explosions.”

The Scottish capital had a rude awakening on Friday morning, as people were disturbed from their sleep by loud banging at around 4am local time.

Despite the early hour, many took to Twitter, mystified and frightened. “Sounded like an explosion just outside. Set off car alarms,” one concerned tweeter wrote.

Another in Leith 447. Sounded like an explosion just outside. Set off car alarms

“Woken up by 2 claps of Thunder in Edinburgh and it sounded like an actual EXPLOSION went off. Never heard it louder holy s**t,” another alarmed person wrote.

Woken up by 2 claps of Thunder in Edinburgh and it sounded like an actual EXPLOSION went offNever heard it louder holy shit #Thundersnow

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Others said they were “freaked out” by what seemed like a bang of an automatic weapon and a flash.

I woke up at 3:58 with what sounded like an automatic weapon (that may have been in my dream though!!) When I saw the flash and heard the bang followed by what sounded like dirt falling afterwards I freaked out 🙈

Some wondered if it was a “sonic boom,” which is a thunder-like noise that can be heard when an aircraft flies faster than the speed of sound.

Heard a double crack of thunder or a sonic boom above #Edinburgh about 0440. Anyone else??

Terrified, some dazed citizens called the emergency services, but Police Scotland’s control room operators were quick to reassure them, writing on Twitter:

“We have have [sic] received a number of calls regarding people concerned about explosions heard. Please do not be alarmed, we are currently experiencing thunder and lightning,” the post read.

We have have received a number of calls regarding people concerned about explosions heard. Please do not be alarmed, we are currently experiencing thunder and lightning. 🌩️⚡❄️ pic.twitter.com/YyZ9rbBadr

The UK weather authority, the Met Office, also took to Twitter to confirm it was indeed thundersnow.

#Thundersnow Has been seen/heard this morningBut what is it? 👇https://t.co/i5dtPVmSXnpic.twitter.com/OmER1B6dsA

The Met Office describes “thundersnow” as being thunder and lightning that occurs during wintry conditions and leads to heavy falls of snow – an unusual event because it’s only possible for it to occur during a few months of the year and in precise conditions.

Some users did recognise the sound as thunder, but were nonetheless spooked by how powerful it was. “That was mad snow thunder. First rolling booms woke me then epic flash/boom like a bomb. Then silence!” one said.

That was mad snow thunder. First rolling booms woke me then epic flash/boom like a bomb. Then silence! Eerie af!

“Woke up with quite a shock with all the banging. Some tremendous #thundersnow out there,” another said.

Woke up with quite a shock with all the banging. Some tremendous #thundersnow out here along with a good few solid inches of @penisnowpic.twitter.com/BkVcrnfmXI

Not everyone was awoken by the freak weather, though – Scottish author Ian Rankin tweeted that he had missed all the commotion, much to his regret:

“Gutted that I slept through the #Edinburgh #thundersnow,” he wrote.

Gutted that I slept through the #Edinburgh#thundersnow

The freak event not only caused a storm of reactions online, but also led to traffic disruption in many areas, police said.

Meanwhile, the Met Office has warned that more bad weather is on the way in other parts of the UK.

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