Huge fireball observed in the sky Wednesday night

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A large fireball was observed crossing the night sky shortly after 10pm Thursday evening from residents in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri.

10:00am Update – Click here for National Weather Service resources:

6:00am Update –  Here are some new pictures out of Wisconsin. You can see the meteor in the 1st pic, then it exploding! (UW-Madison)




At 10:04 our live doppler radar may have picked up on this in Southwestern Wisconsin. While this is speculatory, it is highly coincidental that our frame-grab occurred at the time of the meteorite sighting. Click on the image for the animation.

Non-stop reports came into law enforcement with one person saying “I thought it was a plane on fire…got a great view of it from our window…it scared me!!!” According to KWWL-TV Chief Meteorologist Mark Schnackenberg “It happened about 6 min after 10. We got a report of a muffled boom.”

Facebook entries on TV stations’ pages in Madison, Cedar Rapids, and Rockford lit up with people observing it. It was seen in Des Moines and Kansas City as well. There were loud booms heard in Northeastern Iowa, West-Central Wisconsin, and Southern Minnesota, likely because of the sonic boom as the meteorite entered the atmosphere. There is no indication of where the meteorite came down or whether it made contact with any building. The Iowa County, Wisconsin sheriff’s office has gotten this with a dashboard camera.

Here is the transcript of the National Weather Service chatroom this evening:

(10:08:10 PM) nwsdvn-05: fireball observed a little bit ago just to the north of the office
(10:10:08 PM) KCRG Justin Gehrts: phones ringing off the hook here about it
(10:13:03 PM) KWWL Mark Schnackenberg: DItto
(10:13:38 PM) WHBF Ted McInerney: same here in rock island!
(10:16:39 PM) WHBF Ted McInerney: meteorite?
(10:16:47 PM) nwsdvn-05: very bright fireball
(10:17:57 PM) KWWL Mark Schnackenberg: from the North West.
(10:21:49 PM) KGAN Mace Michaels: Yeah same here as well. One of our producers outside came in and asked me about it. Pretty bright in the Northern sky
(10:26:31 PM) nwsmkx-short: Many calls to NWS offices as far west as Des Moines and Davenport about the fireball/meteorite/space debris(???). The La Crosse office said one caller reported a “boom” as it passed through. Could possibly be a sonic boom as it entered the atmosphere. County sheriff’s deputies from as far north as Portage and Winnebago counties down through Milwaukee and Rock counties have received many reports of a fireball.
(10:31:35 PM) nwsmkx-short: it looks as though the Pleasant Hill office outside of Kansas City is also getting reports of a fireball as well. This thing was visible across a large part of the region.

We will post any additional information as we receive it here and have relayed this information to CNN and NBC. Complete coverage (and perhaps video) will begin on 13News Today at 5am.


Posted under space

This post was written by qni_it on April 14, 2010

75 Comments so far

  1. Diane Bear April 14, 2010 10:30 PM

    We saw it, and we are located in Leon, Iowa, which is located near the Iowa Missouri border in south central Iowa.

  2. Jesse Ross April 14, 2010 10:34 PM

    What an amazing streak of fire. The most incredible thing i’ve ever seen in the night sky! From What Cheer, Iowa.

  3. Andrea April 14, 2010 10:37 PM

    My father who was, at the time, driving on the Interstaet near Prarie City, Iowa saw the ‘fireball’ and thought it was a plane on going down! He was pretty shocked by it, as I’d be! Wish I sould have had a chance to see it, though!

  4. WI Hoosier April 14, 2010 10:39 PM

    i was/am sitting on my back deck in Madison, WI just surfing the web, when i saw it… it looked so close that i couldn’t believe what i was seeing. it made my dog stop and stare too.

    it seem to break up into parts… it looked much like the shuttle disaster over texas back a few years ago. at least what i saw on tv. but there was absolutely no noise. and it appeared very close

    i have never experienced/witness anything like that.

  5. Amanda Love April 14, 2010 10:42 PM

    Reports from Michigan of the huge fireball in the sky…..

  6. Travis Ludwig April 14, 2010 10:45 PM

    About 10:03 pm I pulled on to I235 in Des Moines, Iowa heading east. I saw the green streak out of the left corner of my eye. It was so bright that it looked like it may have been only a couple miles North of where I was. My first though was fireworks, but it was traveling horizontal. It was there for no more then a two or three seconds. Amazing, and a little unnerving. Looked around at some other sites and it seems to be a meteor on fire.

  7. Amanda B April 14, 2010 10:47 PM

    Saw and felt it in Dubuque, IA.
    It was beautiful and made quite the “boom” sound.

  8. Diane Ross April 14, 2010 10:53 PM

    We saw it from Chariton, Iowa. It looked like a HUGE firework! Amazing sight in the sky.

  9. Tony April 14, 2010 10:54 PM

    I saw it from Loves Park, IL. The door to our deck lit up like someone had shined a flashlight on it in two pulses. Then, moving from Southeast to Northwest, I saw a big orange ball and then it was gone.

  10. tony April 14, 2010 11:01 PM

    Wow, I did not see a thing, but yet I wasn’t looking outside at the time either.

  11. Jason Crowell April 14, 2010 11:04 PM

    I saw it for a second or two after someone else in the room said they saw “heat lightning” out through a north facing window. It was NW of Oregon, IL and looked gold to me, but I barely had a chance to see it before it faded away. I reported it to the AMS. Did your skycams see it or catch the flash lighting up the sky or reflecing off of anything?

  12. Eric Sorensen WREX-TV April 14, 2010 11:05 PM

    Unfortunately we do not record our cameras. However I am certain we will have video of this on Friday. -ES

  13. Jason Z April 14, 2010 11:10 PM

    I think the Exactrak Doppler may have caught it. Look at 10:04 on the loop.

  14. Eric Sorensen WREX-TV April 14, 2010 11:11 PM

    Jason, I just saved that animation and put it on the blog. I have a strong hunch you are right on this one! -ES

  15. bill schintler April 14, 2010 11:18 PM

    Iowa City, IA: I was on a south-facing deck and the entire sky lit up green for 5 seconds or so. The view towards the north, and of the meteor itself, was blocked by the house. – Bill

  16. Tony B. April 14, 2010 11:22 PM

    Eric, Did you see the FB post about fragments coming down in Grant County, WI? That’s the area that lights up on the Doppler at 10:04pm.

  17. Brad Hruza April 14, 2010 11:26 PM

    I actually saw it. It looked like lightning than an explosion looked like a transformer blew up til I realized it was clear out and heard 5 minutes later what it was.Was pretty cool to see it though.

  18. kerry lawrence April 14, 2010 11:30 PM

    First saw it near Polaris in Ursa minor. It went east to north/east and disappeared around Phi Herculis in Hercules. A very bright fireball. 8 – 10 seconds. Similar to the Grand Junction, CO fireball. Was also witnessed by Todd Young, who was with me at the time. Started as a bright white/green light, then turned orange/red as it disinitrated. VERY COOL!

  19. kerry lawrence April 14, 2010 11:30 PM

    I am in Cedar rapids iowa

  20. Erik Anderson April 14, 2010 11:38 PM

    I was outside from 9:50-11 and I saw an immense white blue light bright up the sky shortly after 10 while I wa soutside taking star trail pictures.

  21. WI Weather Buff April 14, 2010 11:42 PM

    Oh DRAT. I just wrote up a post of what I saw, and when I hit “submit” I got an error message and when I hit the back button my entire post was gone.

    Yes I saw it. 10:04 p.m. (I checked the time as soon as I saw it). I was driving south on I-39 in WI near the Hy 11 exit near Janesville. At first I thought it was a jet landing at the Rock Co. Airport that had turned on its landing lights and they just happened to shine into my passenger side windows VERY brightly. But I kept scanning the sky looking for an aircraft that could have done that & didn’t see one so I concluded that it was probably a meteor.

  22. bill schintler April 14, 2010 11:54 PM

    Regarding the meteor seen on the WREX radar loop (posts 13 and 14 above), the Quad Cities radar “blooms” at 10:04 PM, while the WI site does so 26 minutes later – much longer then the time for a meteor to travel that distance. I looked at all available tilts of level-3 NWS radar loops (KDVN, KDMX, KARX, KMPX, KGRB, KLOT, and KMKX), and didn’t see anything obvious. It is interesting, though – Bill

  23. Carlos April 15, 2010 12:03 AM

    It was absolutely amazing!!…I was on a rooftop in downtown Des Moines and it lit up downtown….beautiful!

  24. Holly April 15, 2010 12:13 AM

    I live in La Crosse, WI and I saw the firebell as well at first I thought it was lightning and then a little bit after that I heard a big boom and my entire apt building shook and I looke don facebook and everyone of my friends either saw, felt, or heard the same thing all across WI, IA, and MN

  25. Rob April 15, 2010 12:15 AM

    In Des Moines- saw and heard it- with my studies in this field, I believe there will be more to follow in the upcoming days, maybe even bigger than what we saw here tonight

  26. Debi April 15, 2010 12:25 AM

    I saw it out of my southeast facing window in Watkins, MN (which is 60 miles west of Minneapolis.) It was a large glowing orange and white ball with what seemed to be a blue aura. It was simply spectacular! I’ve seen incredible meteors before, but nothing like this!

  27. Curt and Andy April 15, 2010 12:32 AM

    A little after 10 pm on April 14 we were outside and a huge bright light flashed in the sky and we saw a huge meteor that was very bright in white color then turned to orange and seemed to break into pieces toward the end. It was a spectacular sight to see.

  28. Curt and Andy April 15, 2010 12:32 AM

    We are by Lynnville, Iowa

  29. Garrett April 15, 2010 12:43 AM

    Here in Platteville Wisconsin my roomate said he saw what he thought was lightning when we were about to get on the elevator to go out for the night. When we got outside it was nothing but stars in the sky so I knew it wasn’t that and I began claiming he was crazy. A second after that we heard a huge explosion that came from the North, and knew that something was up but I had no idea it was this until I came on here now. Someone at a house we went to said the bang shook their walls for a brief second.

  30. Paul April 15, 2010 12:48 AM

    My friends and I saw it in Columbia, MO….we go the University of Missouri and were hanging out by the columns….it was big. We didn’t hear a noise though. I can’t wait for more info.

  31. Aaron Brackett April 15, 2010 12:51 AM

    Not sure if anyone mentioned this before, but that was picked up off of the Davenport radar. At that distance on the lowest tilt, and by my rough calculations, that is nearly 1 mile above the surface of the earth. I think this is entirely possibly especially given the size of the object is subject to the inverse square rule (as the object is bigger, the reflectivity on radar increases exponentially), and that it would likely be much bigger than a raindrop. One other thing to note is the seemingly benign nature of the occurrence on radar. There is no movement present and no other interference elsewhere.


  32. Brad Hruza April 15, 2010 1:02 AM

    Aaron. Interesting. I would agree 100% with you. I have never seen a storm on radar pop up that fast than dissapear that fast. Especially to see it so far south.

  33. Tim Larner April 15, 2010 1:05 AM

    I was on my way to work tonight heading northbound on I-39 to Madison. Saw a light blish-white light. Thought it was a jetliner running light. As it got brighter it turned a very bright green with blue halo and an yellow/orange tail. It was HUGE. It turn a firey yellow before it broke up and then it was gone. It appeared to be the size of a VW bug.

  34. Brent McCarn April 15, 2010 1:17 AM

    This thing lit the sky so bright here it was like daylight! The boom shook our house and windows. I live about 15 mins from the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.

  35. Bob April 15, 2010 1:24 AM


    video from University Madison webcam

  36. Jason Crowell April 15, 2010 1:27 AM

    A higher resolution animated gif from the UW Madison dept of Atmospheric and Oceanic sciences:

  37. Jason Crowell April 15, 2010 1:43 AM

    In case anyone wants to file a report with the American Meteor Society in order to help establish a trajectory that might help discover any fragments, the link is here:

  38. brian nichols April 15, 2010 2:34 AM

    we saw it in central missouri also

  39. Brian April 15, 2010 7:42 AM

    I saw the Meteor from Los Angeles California to me East Northeast… very awesome little bugger!

  40. shelby April 15, 2010 10:06 AM

    I saw one last night April 14 2010 around ten fifteen in des Moines Iowa in pleasant hill we even saw it blow up in the sky and fall, it was crazy. It took forever to blow up it sailed threw the sky forever and then finally fell. It lit up the whole sky pretty much when it blew up. Probably the coolest thing i have ever seen.

  41. Beckie April 15, 2010 10:14 AM

    I saw it outside my window last night about 10PM. I live near Davenport. It looked at first like helicopter search lights, it was that bright. Then, in an instant, it burned out to a flame shooting across the sky. I have never seen anything like that in my life. It was amazing!

  42. melissa Diercks April 15, 2010 11:11 AM

    i didnt get to c it

  43. Ed Rom April 15, 2010 12:04 PM

    I saw the fireball at a few minutes after ten while I was in the parking lot of the downtown Hy-Vee in Mankato, MN. I’ve never seen anything like it; it had a long tail of greenish (?) fire behind it. It was heading toward the southeast, and I never heard any noise from it.

  44. Teresa M. April 15, 2010 2:03 PM

    I stumbled upon this when searching for what I had seen here in CA.I certainly did not see that meteor, I did see what looked to be a star getting very bright and big then disappearing, then a flash of light occurred over the horizon, around 9:30Pm in Southern California. Can this meteor shower be seen all across the U.S.?

  45. Jeremy April 15, 2010 3:14 PM

    A friend of mine in Dell Rapids, SD also saw it rather brightly last night as she was driving home from work.

  46. Pam in Poplar Grove April 15, 2010 4:09 PM

    Just thought I’d post that I saw the radar capture from WREX on CNN this afternoon – that was too cool. I don’t normally watch CNN but was out at a local business that had it on and was VERY excited to see reference to WREX’s awesome weather team!!

  47. Eric Sorensen - WREX April 15, 2010 4:16 PM

    Pam, that’s too cool! I should’ve had it on in the Weather Center instead of the Internet Radio. :(

  48. Corey April 15, 2010 4:45 PM

    I saw it from my friends patio in Columbia, MO and everyone thought I was crazy!!

  49. Christy April 15, 2010 9:10 PM

    Does anyone know what time to look for the metors tonight? We missed them last night and my children really want to see them.

    Thank you


  50. sarah&crystal April 18, 2010 12:38 PM

    We saw what looks like the same exact flash of light in Texas lastnight miles outside of Haskell. We didnt see any fireballs or any lightening at all, it just was a huge flash that looks like the picture posted above and all the lights on the highway went out.

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  52. jennifer bingham July 5, 2010 2:06 PM

    I saw these fireballs 3 nights in a ow ech one was around 10-10:30 pm here in eastern suburb of detroit. I thought it was a plane till the fire went out and you could still see the chunk flying through the air. We were puzzled by what it was but know I know so I think it is very cool that we saw it that way, especially wednesday night when we saw it we had just gotten up to a bar with a ton of friends after leaving the funeral home viewing of one of our friends, kind of fitting to have that happen that night.

  53. Terese Naber September 6, 2010 5:51 PM

    saw a bright orange ball of fire coming up from the south watched it travel through the sky until you could not see it any more is hoovered below the cloudy sky and made no noise. I was in Paddock Lake Wi. at the time and it was about 8:00 PM on Sept.5 2010

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