Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Meteor Lights Up Midwest Sky

Feb. 6 meteor as viewed from a Lisle, IL police car dash cam. Credit: NWS Chicago/Twitter

A flaming meteor was spotted early Monday in the lower sky across the Midwest, giving a rare up-close look at the phenomenon, which was caught on video, the National Weather Service said. The American Meteor Society received more than 185 reports about of a fireball event seen over Wisconsin on Monday, February 6 around 1:27 a.m.

It was unclear if the meteor struck Earth or burned out. It might have even dropped into Lake Michigan, where it was briefly spotted on radar near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, at about 1:30 a.m.

Officer Patrick Murphy of the Chillicothe Police Department near Peoria, was alone in his squad car in the middle of his patrol shift when he saw the green fireball as he was passing a traffic light. His dashcam, which is constantly recording, captured the meteor.

“It definitely caught me off guard a little bit. Obviously, I was not expecting to see that,” Murphy said. “I figured it was probably a meteor because I don’t know what else it could possibly be.”

He said he drove to the northeast part of town where it looked like the meteor had fallen, but there were no flames anywhere.

Murphy, who reported the meteor sighting to his sergeant, said the fireball surprised him. He said he has seen falling stars but “nothing this big, nothing even close to this big.”

Some in Wisconsin reported hearing a sonic boom, which is caused when a meteor enters the atmosphere, said NWS meteorologist Sarah Marquardt in Milwaukee.

One witness in the Oshkosh area says it shook their building. The Oshkosh Police Department confirmed they received several reports of a loud boom. One officer said he saw a streak of light just east of the city.

Weather Service meteorologists in Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin, said meteor showers are common in the area -- but a spectacular view like this is rare. 

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