There are so many cicadas hatching in the mid-Atlantic that they’re being picked up by weather radar

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The 17-year “Brood X” cicadas are hatching in such high numbers that they’re being picked up by weather radar in Virginia.

There are so many cicadas hatching in Virginia that they're appearing on weather radar as rain, cicada, cicada usa, usa brood x cicada 2021
There are so many cicadas hatching in Virginia that they’re appearing on weather radar as rain. Picture via NWS

THIS is not rain, not ground clutter,” NBC meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts tweeted on Monday. “So likely CICADAS being picked up by the radar beam.

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.

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:

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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6 COMMENTS

  1. Here in Ohio it is impossible to even mow your lawn.

    They are everywhere.

    I must have looked like a madman swinging my arms around out there.

  2. they have made getting to sleep difficult, the way they chorus together,
    but its still better than the sound of air conditioner compressors whining away all night.

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