Fiery Meteor Creates Sonic Boom Heard Across Three US States

Image from the GOES 16 satellite showing the fireball from space. Image Credit: NOAA

A very loud fireball fell through the Earth’s atmosphere over the sky of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi on Wednesday. The meteor streaked across the sky at 8:03 a.m. CDT and was reportedly seen by 30 people and heard by many more.

NASA estimated that the meteor was no bigger than 0.3 meters (1 foot) in diameter and weighed about 40 kilograms (90 pounds). It released an equivalent of 3 tons of TNT as it disintegrated 55 kilometers (34 miles) above Louisiana, creating shock waves that spread to the ground and produced loud sonic booms.

Given the energy involved, it’s not surprising to know that it was 10 times brighter in the sky than the full moon and its shock waves shook the ground itself.

“What struck me as unusual was how few eyewitness reports we had given the skies were so clear,” Bill Cooke, lead of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, said in a statement. “More people heard it than saw it.”

The bolide was also spotted from space. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Geostationary Lightning Mappers equipped on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites 16 and 17 were able to see flashes related to the fragmentation of this object, first seen over the Mississippi River near the town of Alcorn.

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