National Weather Service fielding lots of calls about "fireball" and "sonic boom"

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Nathan Miller at UW-Eau Claire says people reported seeing the meteor just after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

He's referring to it as a fireball, because he says it's a lot brighter than an ordinary meteor. A woman who says she saw it also tells us she couldn't turn away.

"I was mesmerized," said Cathy Poellinger of La Crosse. "I was amazed. It was awesome. I just watched it and looked at it and as slow as it seemed to go, I really got a good look at it."

Poellinger says it was circular and blue, with red around it, and a red streak behind it.

"There's no way to guarantee that you're going to see a fireball like this," Miller said. "For those people who saw it, it is really a once in a lifetime event."

Daniel Mallek shot a little piece of video near Stevens Point that include light, apparently from the meteor, over a group of trees.

Miller says the meteor probably broke apart before hitting the ground.

"It's pretty amazing that you can see that in the upper atmosphere, but it really heats up the atmosphere through friction as it shoots through the atmosphere," he said.

Cathy says all she could do is enjoy the show.

"My mind kept saying take a picture! I don't know if it was because I was scared wondering where it was going to go because it was so low, or if it was just that I was...frozen."

The Eau Claire County Communication Center says it didn't have any reports from people claiming to have seen the meteor.

Miller says, from the Chippewa Valley, the meteor may have caused the sky to light up a little to the south.

He says the meteor could have been material from when the planets were formed, or a piece of man-made satellite or fuel tank, that re-entered the earth's atmosphere.

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National Weather Service offices in La Crosse, Des Moines, Iowa, and Kansas City, Mo., received numerous reports of the fireball from law enforcement and the public. Witnesses say the meteor lit the sky about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Forecasters say a meteor shower called Gamma Virginids began April 4 and is expected to last to April 21 with peak activity Wednesday and Thursday. But they couldn't immediately confirm if the Midwest meteor was part of that shower.

ORIGINAL STORY FROM WEDNESDAY (4/15/2010) NIGHT:

The National Weather Service out of La Crosse says it got a number of calls Wednesday night about a bright light and loud boom in the area.

The NWS says it appears a meteor was the source. It says it would be larger than your typical shooting star to make it this far into the atmosphere.

The NWS says the calls were mostly from Crawford, Richland and Vernon Counties.

People say they saw a "fire ball" or "bright light." Some say their homes or windows shook.

The meteor could also be seen in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.



 
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