Watch: Radar Shows Giant Bug Storm Over TexasThat wasn't rain falling on Austin on Friday
The radar image covering a good-size chunk of Texas on Friday featured deep shades of blue and green, indicating that rain was pelting the region. Only it wasn't raining outside. It was perfectly dry.
"We thought something was wrong with the radar, but we checked our instruments and measurements," National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Dunn told Statesman.com in Austin, Texas. "Everything was working fine."
It turns out it wasn't a storm at all but (probably) a combination of grasshoppers, moths, flies, pollen and dust swirling in the atmosphere - something forecasters usually see resulting from cold fronts in early fall, not in early summer.
So what happened? A cold front hit the region Friday, causing a northeasterly breeze that sent dust and bugs flying into the air.
It's not the first time people have been confused by radar in the region.
Each evening in the summer, for example, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from caves and take to the skies, causing radar to suggest major storms moving through the area. Forecasters in the National Weather Service's Austin-San Antonio office field calls several times a week from confused citizens wondering why local radar images look so stormy.
"They look at the radar and it looks like something exploded, and then they look outside and see clear skies," National Weather Service Science and Operations Officer Jon Zeitler told SKYE.
Fortunately, Zeitler is more than happy to offer an explanation.
"People find it interesting," he said.
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