It’s time to play ‘Guess that radar signature!’
Meteorologist Dan Zarrow saw something unusual on the weather radar over New Jersey this morning - can you guess what it is?
Let's play a little game! I saw something neat on radar early this morning, and I'm pretty sure I know what it was. Here's a chance for you to play forensic radar meteorologist - I'll show you 6 radar images and I'll give you a series of 5 hints too. Can you guess what it was?
Click through the slideshow to view the radar images...
Hint #1... It's not rain. Or hail. Or snow/sleet.
Hint #2... Remember that weather radar can "see" targets other than rain, hail, and snow. Sometimes it's just "ground clutter," which looks like static. This is too organized to be ground clutter.
Hint #3... This is a marshy, unpopulated area along the Mullica River. It's just northwest of Port Republic, N.J. near the triple point of Ocean, Burlington, and Atlantic counties. It is right on the edge of the Swan Bay Wildlife Management Area.
Hint #4... The images above were captured between 5:33 a.m. and 6:22 a.m. this morning. At that location, twilight began at 5:57 a.m. and the official sunrise time was 6:24 a.m.
Hint #5... At that point, the radar beam is "looking" 1600 feet above the surface. It's not definitive, but the radar classified this target as "biological".
OK, enough hints.
Time to guess!
In my expert opinion, what you're seeing here is a scene right out of a Hitchcock movie: a very large flock of birds waking up just before sunrise, taking flight in all directions. It's actually common to catch bird migration on radar, and always a neat sight. The same thing happens at sunset as bats emerge from a cave to feed and fly through the night!
So yes, the radar literally flipped us the bird(s). Haha.
Guessed wrong? Disagree with my verdict? Leave a comment below!
Dan Zarrow is Acting Chief Ornithologist and Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. When he's not bird-watching via computer screen, he's updating Facebook and Twitter with your latest forecast and realtime weather information.