Janesville35.8°

Calls pour in after meteor siting

Print Print
ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
April 16, 2010
— Was it a plane crash near Parker High School?

Did an airliner blow up in the sky?


Thank goodness, neither report to the Rock County Communications Center on Wednesday night was true.


What callers saw about 10 p.m. Wednesday probably was a large meteor.


“It’s called the gamma virginids meteor shower, and the peak of that shower was April 14-15. So we’re right in that time frame,’’ said Penny Zabel, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sullivan.


Staff at the weather station near Milwaukee received about a dozen calls Wednesday night.


“We had lots of phone calls starting about 10:15 from people saying they’d seen a bright light in different colors—mostly green and yellow—across the sky around 10:06 to 10:07 p.m. Most were convinced it was a meteor, and a lot of them said they saw it break up as they saw it going across the sky,” Zabel said.


The Sullivan weather station also received calls from several county sheriffs’ offices plus from National Weather Service offices from Kansas City to Milwaukee, she said.


“We think maybe there was even a sighting in Michigan,’’ Zabel said.


Mark Elland, lead dispatcher at the Rock County Communications Center, said the center received many reports about the meteor from the public, police officers and a county deputy.


“Calls came in for up to 15 minutes with reports of something burning in the sky,’’ he said.


Elland was on his way to work southwest of Janesville when he saw a large glowing and burning object streak across the sky.


“It almost looked like a plane was on fire. But then it burned out,’’ he said.


Zabel said she was aware of a report of a meteor over Wisconsin about two months ago.


“It wasn’t nearly as well seen, and we didn’t get nearly the response from it we got tonight,’’ she said.


Some callers Wednesday even mentioned hearing a boom.


Others reported the ground shaking.


“The pieces were probably pretty small by the time they landed,’’ Zabel said.



Print Print