|Occurred : 8/24/2003 16:00 (Entered as : 08/24/03 16:00)
Reported: 9/3/2003 10:23:59 PM 22:23
Location: Monroe, WA
|Massive low altitude fireball speeding north over the horizon above Monroe, WA, at 16:00 on 8/24/03.
I was driving on Hwy. 522 eastbound, facing a north direction in this particular segment of the highway, heading from Seattle to Monroe. I was about 10-15 miles outside of Monroe heading into Monroe. There is a couple of stoplights at this point on 522 that is famous for traffic backing up, and I was approaching one of these stoplights around 4pm or so, slowing down, when I witnessed the sighting. At first glance, I thought it was a shooting star (thinking to myself, 'but in the middle of the day, so visible?) when I quickly realized that instead of streaking across the sky in the upper atmosphere, this was much closer, as low you might expect a small airplane to be that was starting a landing approach (5-10k feet?). It was a massive fireball, a large burning mass followed be a long tail of fiery debris burning off. It was falling to the earth, and lasted only several seconds before it dissapeared over the trees on the horizon. This highway is well wooded in this area, almost a path or corridor cut into the forest, and anything moving in the sky would dissapear out of your line of sight beyond the trees on either side, unless the object was heading the same direction as the highway, in which case you'd be able to see it longer until it disappeared over the horizon ahead beyond the trees rather than either side of the highway's close forested sides. this object's falling path did indeed follow the corridor of sight of the highway stretching out ahead of me, until disappeared over the treetops of the horizon. So I got a good 5 second look at it, luckily as it traveled the same direction overhead of the stretch of highway I was on.
Were I not in a car, I probably would've seen it much longer from behind me as well, as opposed to just when it just got ahead of me and cleared into the view of my windshield. From my vantage point, as it streaked and fell and disappeared beyond the trees on the horizon, the trajectory to me looked like it was falling only 10-15 miles ahead of me, like in dowtown Monroe! In retrospect however, given my untrained eye, what looked like falling in front of me could've really been a much flatter slope and just streaking across horizontally out in front of me, and really hitting earth 100 miles away or more. I am not real good at judging the three dimensional trajectory when I'm below it looking up at it in really a two dimensional perspective. Either way, it was extremely low to the ground and like nothing I've ever seen before. After my initial reaction of a shooting star was exluded, my next thought was that it was a meteorite falling to earth, basically like a shooting star that made it all the way down to here. I also entertained the idea that it was a plane crash or other air disaster (army experiment gone wrong, bad rocket launch, poorly aimed satelite or other man made space device falling from orbit, my imagination really took off in that small instant!), as the fiery mass trailing smoke, flame, and burning off pieces of debris reminded me of some of the pictures I saw with the recent space shuttle tragedy where pieces or wreckage were scattered, falling to the earth in a fiery mass trailing fire and debris with striking similarity to the object I witnessed. However, it mostly resembled a meteorite to me. It moved at an incredible rate of speed, a speed that I never thought possible, faster than any plane I've ever seen, including the Blue Angels fighter jets that do an annual airshow in seattle. The main fireball mass also seemed very large, too large to really be any sort of plane or wreckage. It was a jaw dropping experience, one that made me cry out "what the #@%$ was that? Holy *#&$! ! Did you see that?" only I was the only one in the car, so I began looking around to other motorists as someone to share this incredible experience if any of them saw it too, but by them traffic started to move and I couldn't get a good look at anyone's face to sense anyone with similarly astonished expressions. Wherever this thing fell, I wish I was there to see it, as it would be incredibly interesting I'm sure.
((NUFORC Note: Many reports about this event. The object is thought to have been a dramatic meteor over central or northern British Columbia. PD))