Boom! Boom! Boom! It's Raining Rocks

Meteor Shower
NASA

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If you're one of the many who endured a tough winter this year, consider yourself lucky. In Russia it has been raining—rocks!

Click to watch video below.

Coming right at youmeteor striking near Murmansk, Russia. Source: YouTube

A meteor terrified Russia at the end of April. (Everyone knows that a meteor is in the sky and a meteorite is when it strikes the Earth’s surface, right?) Only last year a large meteorite exploded over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk Oblast. Its huge blast in the air sent a shock wave that shattered windows and hurt 1,496 people. No one was killed. This made the citizens of the city of Murmansk nervous when they saw a similar rock hurtling toward them on April 20. Fortunately, it exploded leaving no injuries but a lot of great pictures.

The most unnerving part of the story is the casual line at the end, “Some 500 meteorites reach Earth each year, though many are small and are not spotted.” Gulp! Fortunately only 5 or 6 of these are big enough to detect on our weather radar.

500 meteorites reach Earth each year. Source: NASA

As long as we are getting scary—in mid-April the B612 Foundation reported that, since 2000, there have been 26 asteroid blasts equivalent to at least 1,000 tons of TNT. In four of those incidents, the space rock's explosion unleashed more energy than the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima. (Maybe I should have posted this on Halloween!) The Chelyabinsk meteor had the force of 20 Hiroshima bombs while a house-sized blast off the coast of Indonesia was more powerful than three Hiroshima bombs.

This was not a surprise to me. A weapon’s scientist told me about how frequent these hits are. He told amusing stories of national security detecting 90 big blasts in two decades and dashing around the globe trying to discover if they were bombs or meteorites. Frequently they met scientists and agents from other countries trying to figure out the same thing. None of these blasts killed anyone and, aside from Chelyabinsk, only one person, Ann Hodges, claims to have been hurt by a strike. (She had a nasty bruise!)

The Sylacauga meteoritethe only meteorite known to have hit and hurt anyone. Source Wikipedia

So if you don’t like your current weather, don’t complain. At least it’s not raining rocks on you!

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to "Weather Whispers" by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather--from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these blog posts. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

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