Massive Meteor Over Lake Ontario and New York State Creates Flash, Sonic Booms.

Composite image with satellite image from NOAA showing the entry of the fireball into earth's atmosphere as it disintegrated (Photo: NOAA); screenshot of video of dogsledder that captured the moment of entry into the atmosphere by the fireball (Photo: Bekka Gunner/Untamed Adventure Dogs/via Syracusecom/YouTube); artwork of a meteor (credit: Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock)

Entry of Large Meteor into Atmosphere Caught on Video in Canada and Eastern U.S.

An unusually large meteor created a sensation around the upper eastern U.S. in the Great Lakes region and across southern Ontario in Canada around noon local time on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. The meteor was remarkable not only for its size, but also for its proximity to populated areas, allowing its entry to be captured across the region on video and by surveillance systems.

“Holy cow, I think that was a shooting star but during the day… or a bomb!” said dog sled driver Bekka Gunner of Holland, New York, in the United States. Gunner was out training with her sled dog team from Untamed Adventure Dogs when she captured the comet’s entry on video in broad daylight. Her video was featured on Syracuse.com, a local news outlet.

Surveillance video from on top of Toronto, Ontario’s 1800-foot tall CN tower showed the brilliant flash of the fireball’s disintegration.

The meteor, also referred to as a fireball, entered the earth’s atmosphere at, “Speeds of 56,000 mph at 12:08 p.m. ET” according to the director of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, Bill Cooke. Cooke went on to tell reporters that the meteor disintegrated as it entered the earth’s atmosphere at approximately 116,000 ft. or 22 miles’ altitude, somewhere between Rochester and Syracuse, New York.

By comparison, a Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) warhead from an ICBM travels much slower than Wednesday’s fireball, reentering earth’s atmosphere during its terminal attack phase at approximately 15,000 mph according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

“To have something so close to a major city, that’s pretty rare,” said Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society in a report from NBC News by Tim Stelloh.

Shot of whited-out video of the fireball’s disintegration over Toronto was captured by the EarthCam on top of the CN Tower. (Photo: EarthCam)

Wednesday’s fireball was reminiscent of the massive Chelyabinsk meteor that caused widespread damage on Feb. 15, 2013, went it entered the earth’s atmosphere over southeastern Russia. The massive sonic boom and shock waves caused by the Chelyabinsk “super bolide” meteor broke glass, blew out doors and injured people from flying debris. In one case an entire factory roof collapsed from the shockwave. Because of the angle of reentry, the Chelyabinsk meteor broke into small fragments in the upper atmosphere, showering the region with shrapnel from the meteor. Interestingly, the Chelyabinsk meteor was undetected on its approach to earth’s atmosphere because its trajectory was from the sun’s direction, making detection difficult.

More recently, on August 1, 2018 at 5:14 PM Washington D.C. time a Meteor exploded with 2.1 kilotons force 43 km above missile early warning radar at Thule Air Base.

It would appear that this most recent fireball also largely disintegrated as it entered earth’s atmosphere. So far, no reports of fragments of the meteor being recovered have surfaced, suggesting either none or very few reached the ground. Any fragments that survived entry into the atmosphere may have landed in the eastern Great Lakes.

About Tom Demerly 504 Articles
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.