SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WIVB/AP) — Many people across Western New York say they saw a fireball on Wednesday. The American Meteor Society—an organization in western New York that keeps track of such phenomena—received dozens of reports of fireball sightings around noon.
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From Virginia to Canada, people reported hearing and feeling the event. It was likely caused by a disintegrating meteor, said Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society in Geneseo. By 5 p.m., the organization had recorded 90 reports of the fireball seen in Maryland, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Police agencies and fire departments around central New York received 911 calls reporting a boom that shook windows, but clouds prevented sightings in much of the area. Since most reports of the boom were around Syracuse, that’s likely where the meteor blew to bits, Lunsford said.
On the society’s website, an observer in western New York reported that the fireball was bright white with shades of yellow. An observer in Hagerstown, Maryland reported a fireball with red and orange sparks, smoke, and a persistent train. A report from Welland, Ontario, described a long, bright green train.
“Sunny day so it looked like a gold metallic flash against the blue sky,” said a report from Winchester, Virginia.
“Astonishing, amazing, still get goosebumps talking about it,” wrote an observer in Port Dover, Ontario. “The train was flaming white, wide and long, no smoke.”
“We tend to notice fireballs more at night because they stand out better, but it’s not terribly unusual for very bright ones to be noticed during the day. It happens several times a year over populated areas,” said Margaret Campbell-Brown, a member of the Meteor Physics Group at Western University in London, Ontario.
All fireballs, which are bright meteors, produce sound waves, sometimes detectable only by sensitive microphones, Campbell-Brown said by email. A large one may produce a thunderlike sonic boom with possible extra bangs from fragmentation, she said.