Meteor Shower Reports Abound Along East Coast

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http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20010723/sc/life_sightings_dc_3.html

Monday July 23 11:13 PM ET

Meteor Shower Reports Abound Along East Coast By David Morgan

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Reports of a possible meteor shower flooded police and government telephone lines along the U.S. East Coast on Monday, authorities said.

The sightings of what some described as a fast-moving meteor prompted evening rush-hour motorists to pull off suburban highways west of Philadelphia.

Pilots in flight issued reports of similar sightings to federal aviation officials in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Authorities said eyewitness accounts came from upstate New York to Virginia.

``People say they saw what was perhaps a meteor shower, but there's nothing we can confirm,'' said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac.

A Reuters reporter saw a tapered object shaped like a trumpet bell falling diagonally through the western sky near West Chester, Pennsylvania, 20 miles from Philadelphia, at about 6:20 p.m.

The object emitted a lustrous rainbow of colors, ranging from bright yellow on its downward-pointing flared end to light green and finally rust-colored red at the upward-pointing tapered end.

Others reported seeing a triangular object or a fireball shooting through the sky.

People living near Montoursville, Pennsylvania, a rural community 130 miles northwest of Philadelphia, reported hearing a loud explosion after seeing the unidentified object. A state police dispatcher said one woman reported that the blast broke windows in her home.

There were also unconfirmed reports of people finding debris on the ground.

``It was a ball of fire,'' Mark Barbour of Syracuse, New York, told CNN. ``It looked like something you would see from the movies.''

The National Weather Service reported no natural phenomena that could account for such a sight.

Police in Pennsylvania were investigating the possibility of a part falling from a plane from Philadelphia International Airport, which sometimes guides flights across the city's western suburbs. But sightings were later reported southward through Delaware, Maryland, Washington and into Virginia.

There were no reports of aviation emergencies, apart from the nonfatal crash of a single-engine plane in Calvert, Maryland, near the state's border with Pennsylvania and Delaware.

``We have no idea what it was, whether it was a meteor or what,'' said National Weather Service spokesman Curtis Carey.

-- K. (infosurf@yahoo.com), July 24, 2001

Answers

Fireball seen from Virginia to New York Sent by ECTV Viewer

As you probably will hear a fireball (meteor) was seen in Maryland just after 6 pm tonight.

According to Fox5 News in Washington, DC (the only station to confirm the landing), it landed in Salladasburg, PA and left a 20' scorch mark. Salladasburg, PA is in North Central, PA.

They said it was the size of a car. I missed seeing it but heard about it.

Sue Palka, Meteorologist at Fox5, will be going up to PA this weekend to view the site.

Law Enforcement officials are roping off the area until experts can get to the site. They said it went very deep into the earth.

Just thought you'd like to know for your breaking news. amsmeteors.org have not reported it yet.

According to NBC in Washington DC, AMS had not confirmed the landing so they weren't confirming it yet. How Fox5 News found out I don't know.

Officials at the site are preparing for a press conference some time tonight about the landing.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), July 24, 2001.


According to what I'm reading and seeing now, the "impact zone" no longer exists and, according to authorities, never did. News clips of the gouge in the hayfield and FD personnel walking around in hazmat suits last night are not being seen today, and all reports of an actual landing are being officially denied. Instead, the official story now seems to be that the fireball exploded in the air over a cornfield and peppered the corn stalks with hot rock fragments. There's more on a couple of threads at TB2K.

Something strange happening here.

-- Cash (Cash@andcarry.com), July 24, 2001.


The something strange is most likely major over-enthusiasm by the news hounds and/or the local volunteer fire department. Wouldn't be the first time.

It is possible that fragments of this object hit the ground, but they will be hard to find as time passes. A similar incident a couple years ago happened up in the northwest corner of North America, where snow on the ground made finding meteorite fragments a whole lot easier (also, in that famous case an alert observer on the scene was right there). This is why most meteorite pieces are discovered in snowy but low-precipitation Antarctica, and also from the flat desert. But who knows, perhaps there will be something found in this tiny place in northcentral PA (not really "northeast"; it's in Lycoming County near the weirdly named town of "Jersey Shore" -- which isn't anywhere near the NJ coastline.)

Anyhow, here's the latest from the website of the Philadelphia ABC TV affiliate (channel 6):

Headline: Meteor Sighted in Northeast Pennsylvania

URL: http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/news/07242001_nw_meteor.html

SALLADASBURG, PA: July 24, 2001

Did you see the meteor last night? EMAIL US with your observations if you did.

Meanwhile...the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency will visit a cornfield in the northeast section of the state to see if that's where a meteor landed Monday night.

People all over Pennsylvania, and as far away as Virginia and New York State lit up 911 phone lines Monday night reporting a sonic boom and flashing streaks of light in the sky.

A firefighter in Salladasburg a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania was called to a corn field where a couple of people were deer watching. People there told the firefighter they saw a fireball drop into the field. According to fire chief Jerold Ross, "He found roughly a 25 by 20 foot area of ...scorched ground."

Ross said the firefighter could not see anything on the ground, just scorched earth. There are no reports of any other damage or injuries from the apparent meteor shower.

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), July 24, 2001.


I can't resist, here's a dig at the media, slightly paraphrasing the esteemed physician William Osler from a century ago:

"If you see something reported in the newspapers that you know to be true, begin to doubt it immediately."

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), July 24, 2001.


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