Meteor smoke plume visible on Doppler Radar

You know it’s bad when we start tracking meteors on Doppler.

That’s exactly what meteorologists at the Quad Cities and La Crosse NWS offices saw streak across the radar screen last night.

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Smoke plume (blue line) from meteor visible in southwest Wisconsin Wednesday night.

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La Crosse NWS Doppler radar close up picks up smoke plume from meteor about 10,000 feet above ground level Wednesday night.

The meteor appears to have exploded as it slammed into the atmosphere at super-sonic speeds over southwest Wisconsin north of Platteville at about 10:10 pm last night.

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University of Wisconsin, Madison webcam captures the fireball Wednesday night.

Here are some excerpts and links describing the event form various NWS offices in the region this morning.

From NWS Quad Cities:

Fireball Wednesday Night 4/14

Just after 10 pm CDT Wednesday evening April 14th, a fireball or very bright meteor was observed streaking across the sky. The fireball was seen over the northern sky, moving from west to east. Well before it reached the horizon, it broke up into smaller pieces and was lost from sight. The fireball was seen across Northern Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Southern Wisconsin. Several reports of a prolonged sonic boom were received from areas north of Highway 20, along with shaking of homes, trees and various other objects including wind chimes. As of late Wednesday evening, it is unknown whether any portion of this meteorite hit the ground.

The fireball was caught on a webcam from UW-Madison AOS/SSEC.

The fireball was also caught by a Howard County Iowa Sheriff’s Deputy. This video was provided by KWWL TV.

Also, the Doppler Radar from the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities appeared to capture a portion of the smoke trail from the fireball at 0302z (1002 PM CDT), as seen in the image below. It appears as a thin line extending across portions of Grant and Iowa Counties in Wisconsin. This trail is positioned nearly 88 miles north-northeast of Davenport, Iowa at an elevation of just over 24,000 ft AGL.

From NWS Milwaukee:

Possible Meteor Visible Across Southern Wisconsin

MANY REPORTS OF A BRIGHT FIREBALL HAVE BEEN FLOODING COUNTY SHERIFF

DISPATCH CENTERS ACROSS THE SOUTHERN HALF OF WISCONSIN THROUGH THE NIGHT.

THE FIREBALL WAS VISIBLE BETWEEN 10 PM AND 1015 PM CDT.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICES IN LA CROSSE…DAVENPORT AND DES

MOINES IOWA…AS WELL AS ST LOUIS AND KANSAS CITY MISSOURI HAVE

RECEIVED NUMEROUS REPORTS OF A FIREBALL FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT

OFFICIALS AND THE PUBLIC AROUND THE SAME TIME AS THE REPORTS IN

OUR COUNTY WARNING AREA.

WHILE NO OFFICIAL DETERMINATION HAS BEEN MADE OF WHAT CAUSED THE

FIREBALL…SPACE DEBRIS…METEOR ETC…THERE IS A METEOR SHOWER

CURRENTLY OCCURRING CALLED THE GAMMA VIRGINIDS. IT BEGAN APRIL 4TH

AND IS EXPECTED TO LAST THROUGH APRIL 21ST…WITH THE PEAK

ACTIVITY APRIL 14TH AND 15TH. A LARGE METEORITE COULD HAVE CAUSED

THE BRILLIANT FIREBALL THAT HAS BEEN REPORTED.

-Link From NWS La Crosse:

Meteor or meteorite?

It is unknown at this point if any part of the meteor hit the ground. If it did, it would be called a meteorite. Here’s more on meteors and meteorites from NASA.

It seems you never know what is going to fall out of the atmosphere above. As we say on our Jet Streaming podcasts, keep an eye on the sky!

PH