The mystery was solved. Then it wasn’t. Then it was.
Now, well, who knows?
Back on Dec. 10, the Evansville area was embroiled in intrigue when mysterious radar blips appeared over Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky. The long lines baffled the National Weather Service because they looked like storms – but it wasn’t raining.
The War Zone eventually confirmed the anomalies arose when a C-130 traveling to West Virginia from a military exercise out west released over our area huge plumes of military chaff – radar-jamming material mostly composed of aluminum.
Sounds reasonable. But it does nothing to explain what happened in Maine and Florida around the same time.
Similar blips materialized on radar over Portland, Maine, on Dec. 12. The National Weather Service there also guessed chaff was to blame.
But unlike here, no concrete explanation sprang forth.
According to The War Zone, the one Maine Air National Guard flying unit doesn’t have any planes equipped to release chaff. And it’s not like a plane from a different base would jet all the way to Maine just to spew chaff.
That same day, strange radar shapes appeared over the Florida Keys, too. Again, the NWS guessed it was chaff – Florida is apparently rife with military exercises – but that hypothesis was never confirmed.
All of it could really twist your brain into a labyrinth – especially if you like to indulge in conspiracy theories.
And I heard from a lot of those folks when a story I wrote about the phenomenon landed on The Drudge Report.
“We believe there is more to the story than what the FAA and military and publications such as ‘The War Zone’ are telling us,” an investigator from the Mutual UFO Network told me in an email after the blips appeared over Illinois and Kentucky. “There are a high number of factoids that don’t add up.”
Am I saying all this is an opening act for a giant extraterrestrial invasion? No. We’re not that lucky. But whatever it is, it’s exceedingly strange.
If all these instances were caused by chaff, what kind of mass, nationwide exercise was the military conducting? And why was radar-jamming material so prominent?
It conjures another question, too: is it dangerous to have large amounts of this junk hovering in the atmosphere?
According to studies the Air Force and other government agencies have commissioned since the 1990s, military chaff poses little if any threat.
“Based on reviews of numerous toxicological studies, the key components of chaff (aluminum, silica glass fibers, and stearic acid) will not pose an adverse impact to human and environmental health,” a 1993 study found.
It does, however, hover in the atmosphere for an inordinate amount of time — as much as 10 hours at a time. So if these reported military exercises continue, you can expect more radar anomalies to crop up all over the country.
More NWS hubs will get confused. And more conspiracies will be born.