Mysterious plume on radar raises questions

Mysterious plume on radar raises questions

OTSEGO COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- The 7&4 Storm Team and the National Weather Service have been noticing something unusual on the radar in Otsego County.

At first glance, it looks like a possible thunder storm going across the radar screen early Monday and Tuesday.

But over the past two days during that time, it has been sunny and mostly clear in that area.

The plume image on the radar could have been a wild fire, but none have been reported.

"Some debate, some question," said Aaron Mayhew, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gaylord. "Fires will sometimes look like this where there was one specific spot where things seem to be coming from. We’re pretty sure it wasn’t rain, because it was pretty clear out."

On Monday, it started south of Gaylord near the Camp Grayling air field, then stretched northwest towards Boyne City, the same direction of the wind.

On Tuesday, it started from the same spot.

According to Mayhew, it could have either been a large bird or insect migration, or some type of training going on at Camp Grayling.

“Especially like mayfly hatches on the Detroit radar, you can really see those," Mayhew said.

There are non-flying tent worms all over the area where it started, but nothing that would show on radar.

Mayhew's hypothesis is, since it's so close to the Camp Grayling air field, it could have been something the military uses called chaff.

“Almost like a filament, like a very small piece of fiber-glass strand that’s coated in aluminum," Mayhew said. "The whole design of it is to be highly reflective in radar. That may be to camouflage planes flying through it, helicopters flying through it. Usually it’s some kind of counter-measure against radar.”

A representative from Camp Grayling said no exercises have been going on that would trigger the radar.

The National Weather Service says sometimes those exercises are not public information.

Aaron Mayhew says he saw a very similar event happen a couple of years ago in Alabama that ended up being chaff from a nearby military base.

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