The 17-year “Brood X” cicadas are hatching in such high numbers that they’re being picked up by weather radar in Virginia.
“THIS is not rain, not ground clutter,” NBC meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts tweeted on Monday. “So likely CICADAS being picked up by the radar beam.”
THIS is not rain, not ground clutter (the radar beam picking up objects close the radar site –which is in Loudoun County)…. the Hydrometeor Classification algorithm identifies this as biological in nature..so likely CICADAS being picked up by the radar beam… pic.twitter.com/zTLCzynz5D
— Lauryn Ricketts (@laurynricketts) June 7, 2021
Pallozzi said the NWS has a weather radar located in Sterling, Virginia, in the same region as the radar map that Ricketts posted, and explained that the beams the radar devices send out rise the further they travel from the machine.
So the beams are picking up the newly emerged cicadas on the ground near the Sterling radar, but fewer and fewer cicadas are identified as the beam’s height increases away from the ground, which is why the blip on the map is so close to the radar itself, Pallozzi said.
The NWS’ Baltimore-Washington account tweeted on Saturday that local radar was reporting “a lot of fuzziness” that it attributed to cicadas.
You may have noticed a lot of fuzziness (low reflectivity values) on our radar recently. The Hydrometeor Classification algorithm shows much of it to be Biological in nature. Our guess? It’s probably the #cicadas. pic.twitter.com/i990mEBJnl
— NWS Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) June 5, 2021
While the cicadas are populous enough for weather radar to notice them, Pallozzi said it’s easy for any meteorologist to discern the difference between weather events and cicadas due to the “Hydrometeor Classification Algorithm.”
Pallozzi said the NWS can use the algorithm to determine the likelihood that a radar beam is picking up hail, rain, snow, something biological, or more.
And cicadas can be really noisy too:
— JurassicDave93 (@JurassicDave93) June 7, 2021
After 17 years underground, billions of red-eyed cicadas are beginning to crawl their way to the surface in portions of the United States. The periodical insects, known as Brood X or Brood 10, have begun emerging from the earth in 15 eastern states and Washington, D.C., from Georgia to New York and west to Indiana and Illinois.
“There will be birth. There will be death. There will be romance in the treetops. There will be wicked sex. There will be predators. It’s going to be better than an episode of Game of Thrones…”
Are you prepared for this cicada invasion? [Insider]
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