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