Mystery Radar Blob Reveals Odd Man-Made Phenomenon: Page 2

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An image of a mysterious blob seen in weather radar on June 4, 2013, in Huntsville, Ala.
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They found the blob was not nature-made, after all, and was likely so-called military chaff, or reflective particles used to test military radar.

"What we were able to see from the dual-pol radar data looked similar to military chaff cases previously, but the primary difference was that the winds weren't blowing the stuff away," Havin said. "The releases were happening primarily below 3,300 feet [1,000 meters] above the ground and the low-level winds that afternoon were almost nonexistent (less than 3 mph [4.8 km/h]), so the chaff was basically pluming outward over a good portion of the Huntsville metro area."

In fact, the chaff was visible on their radar for more than nine hours, and the news stories lingered even longer.

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"Officially, Redstone Arsenal disclosed that it was a military test using RR-188 military chaff," Havin said, referring to aircraft used to spread a cloud of aluminum-coated silica in the case of RR-188.

The cloud can confuse radar-guided missiles, for instance, so they miss their targets.

"My goal was just to show in greater detail how the weather that day was causing things to look the way they did with the chaff release," Havin said of his talk at the NWAS meeting.

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