A Tale Of Contrails

| May 20, 2009 @ 3:33 pm | 12 Replies

Received this note from a blog reader this morning. Your thoughts?

“James: Not a truly weather related topic, but yesterday afternoon, around 4:30, I was traveling I-59 west coming back from Gadsden. We were between Rainbow City and Trussville. My passenger and I were marveling at the blue-bird sky when two particularly vivid vapor trails caught our attention. They initially appeared to be heading down in a top right to bottom left motion, generally traveling from the northeast toward the south-southwest. It reminded me of the debris trails from the space shuttle re-entry accident over the southwestern US several years back, but there was no fireball like you would expect from a re-entry. However, as we approached the plateau upon which Oneonta sits (north – off to the right- of I-59), they seemed to level out and travel more westerly. We lost sight of the vapor trails below the tree line, but not before they appeared to join more closely together, like you would expect with military jets. However, there did not appear to be any particular object creating the trails.

I snapped several photos with my cell phone, but none of them depicts the trails primarily due to the fact that we were traveling directly into the sun. Also, I noticed a couple of other vapor trails in a straight line and much higher in altitude than these two particular trails. These others were also bright and vivid but were straight lines that are typically associated with airplanes. The two strange trails in the preceding paragraph were generally straight, but toward the end of our view, they seemed to level off and change general direction.

Now, I realize I was traveling generally in the direction of the B’ham Airport, and there have been, from time to time, military airplanes (fighter and transport) using our facilities. But, this was a weird enough occurrance that I mentioned it in the office this morning. My assistant confirmed seeing the same thing, but later in time, from her home in Gardendale. She placed the objects further west from her position.

I’m not sure you would know what these trails might have been caused by, or even care for that matter. But, I thought you might find it interesting.

Thanks for all you do. Don’t be swayed by the few, vocal NBA fans about interruptions in a game for significant weather developments! I and my family appreciate all that you do to help us stay safe.”

Category: Pre-November 2010 Posts

About the Author ()

James Spann is one of the most recognized and trusted television meteorologists in the industry. He holds the AMS CCM designation and television seals from the AMS and NWA. He is a past winner of the Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year from both professional organizations.

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