Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shaking? Miltary Chaff?

Around 3:00 today, the walls at KAIT were shaking. Shortly after, many viewers were calling the television station wondering if their was an earthquake. Well, according to the Earthquake Center in Memphis, it was NOT an Earthquake.

So... What was it? Meteorologist Sarah Tipton and I started doing some quick research, making calls, and asking questions. I looked at radar and noticed that something was on going overhead at the exact time that the shaking took place. So, what was it?

I mentioned the radar echoes in a chat room of meteorologists from the NWS and media. A fellow meteorologist from WLNS in Michigan, Rob Dale, mentioned "Military Chaff"... I had heard of it before, but was not sure exactly what it was, but luckily he provided some links.

Kentucky Chaff Event -noted by the National Weather Service.

Toledo Area Chaff Event -story by our sister-station WTOL.

To summarize, the military has a maneuver that requires the aircraft to go at super-sonic speeds. During the maneuver a sonic boom can be created and thus cause some shaking on the ground. The military chaff maneuver is designed to drop little pieces of aluminum-cover mylar that mess with the radar returns and "streaks" are created on the radar. Now, I know this may seem a little far-fetched to some of you, but look at the links of the event that occurred in Kentucky and then look at what happened here today. Very similar, eh?

I put in a request for the military to confirm or deny the event, so maybe they will tell me something soon. In case you were wondering, this is NOT dangerous and does not pose any health risks!

Have a great night!
Ryan

EDIT- Here's the video clip from the 10:00 News tonight... (I could not get the word "Chaff" out!)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The biggest question about this for me is, as a child I have heard sonic booms, there was no boom related to this event that happened yesterday, so where was the sonic boom?

And also, why is the military releasing this aluminum into the air? Is it a byproduct of their fuel? I've never heard of aluminum being a by-product of fuel before.

Some big questions for a strange event. We felt the tremor, and it lasted for about 10 seconds here in Lawrence County.

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

Good questions anonymous. I'm not sure about not hearing the boom, but the aluminum strips are suppose to be safe.

In fact... If it was Chaff, it probably landed well to our southwest.... In Mississipi, Alabama... or maybe even further south.

(I removed my previous comment due to typos :))

Jason H said...

Ryan, I done a little research, and here is what I found.

Yesterday afternoon around 2:40 or so a company working just outside of Pocahontas "Jet Materials" set off ALOT of dynamite & C-4 at a local rock quarry. I am almost sure that is what we felt here in Pocahontas, and around the area. It was stronger the closer you got to the blast site. Maybe that is why reports was so much stonger here. However I don't think it would have been felt as far as Jonesboro. Now, the rest of the area might have been a felt the sonic boom, I don't know.

Anyway, just thought you might would like to know.

Heidi is pretty sleuth-like said...

I think this was all simply a result of the Vaughans switching to fluorescent lightbulbs.

:D

Andrew said...

I'm sure there is someone this morning somewhere, that knows exactly what happened yesterday, and they are reading the scuttle-but and listing to the stories while laughing uncontrollably because they know we will never get an official answer as to what happened.

Anonymous said...

I thought even the military were not allowed to fly low enough that a 'boom' would affect populated areas?