One of the biggest meteors seen worldwide this year streaked over the north metro early Thursday, giving the night sky a light show and rattling homes with a sonic boom.
The refrigerator-sized fireball entered the stratosphere above Cambridge, Minn., in Isanti County about 2:10 a.m. and illuminated the sky with brilliant hues of blues and greens as it burned its way eastward before going dark over Harris in southern Chisago County, said Pat Branch, an observer and meteorite hunter with the American Meteor Society, which collects reports from all over the world.
It wasn’t immediately clear how close the meteor came to Earth impact, but it probably was close enough to drop pea- to grape-size rocks with charred, crusted or chipped edges, Branch said. The drop zone between Harris and North Branch would be about 2 miles long and a half-mile wide, he said.
The meteor was only the second of 2018 to get close enough to Earth to drop fragments, Branch said. “It’s very unusual,” he said. “This is one of our biggest events of the year.”
Even with cloudy skies, the meteor was visible in Minnesota from more than 50 miles away in places such as Chanhassen and Prior Lake. People from Cambridge, Isanti, Elk River, Wyoming and Otsego logged onto the Meteor Society’s website to report a loud boom followed by a long rumble.
“It shook the house,” read one report filed by a woman from Cambridge.
Farther away, a man from Elk River who was out shoveling his driveway saw pulsing blue light all over his yard.
“I saw blue light bright enough to make my trees turn blue, like massive Christmas lights were suddenly on them,” the man, identified as Michael B, wrote in his account on the American Meteor Society’s site. “I looked up, and what looked like a large meteor was streaking directly over me. After about three minutes, an explosion sound occurred, from far away, yet audible enough to make some pheasants in my backyard scatter and squawk some.”
Sleepy residents who wondered what woke them called 911. A supervisor with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office’s dispatch center said there were “multiple calls” from communities across the northern part of the county.
The National Weather Service in Chanhassen also got a few calls, but nothing was detected on its satellite equipment, said meteorologist Michelle Margraf. There were no storms or lightning at the time, she said.
Michael Stangaof Otsego caught the event on a livestream weather camera set to roll when triggered by lightning. The meteor flash set it off.
“It was surprising, to say the least, that it went off in December,” he said.
He posted a snippet of the flash on Twitter and posted a longer video on the Otsego Minnesota Weather Live Stream channel on YouTube.
Video captured from Matthew Sparby’s Golden Valley front porch also caught the action.
“Yes, there was a meteor over the Twin Cities this morning,” he tweeted. His video clearly shows a streak through the night sky.
The event occurred a day after a separate mysterious light streaked over the San Francisco Bay Area in California during the early morning hours. That sighting triggered more than 120 reports to the American Meteor Society.
“We confirm the event that occurred over San Francisco last night was a fireball,” the organization said.