11/29/2018 @ 7:21 PM CST
37.012173 • -85.249797
This event was a POSSIBLE meteorite fall that occurred at 7:21 PM local time on 29 November 2018, or 01:23:01 UTC. Events are recorded as “possible” if they produce signatures of a meteorite fall in weather radar imagery at the time and place described by eyewitnesses, but with significant uncertainties. No meteorites have been recovered from the event to date.
This is a surprising probable meteorite fall, because the meteor that produced it was small and not widely reported. Only four eyewitnesses reported it to the American Meteor Society across Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. One eyewitness near the fireball terminus in Kentucky reported hearing a “faint rumbling” during the meteor that continued after the fireball went dark. The Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA Marshall Space Center reports recording this meteor in imagery from two all-sky meteor cameras, although it was automatically rejected by the camera software as being too small to be significant. Despite the weak intensity of the meteor, weather radar imagery records signatures of possible falling meteorites in imagery from two radars. One possible explanation for all of these features is that this event produced a low-mass, but metal-rich, meteorite fall. A high metal content in the falling meteorites would produce a disproportionately strong radar return even if very little total mass reached the ground.
This event is recorded as American Meteor Society event number 5,300 for 2018. Signatures of falling meteorites can be found in imagery from two nearby weather radars. In the NEXRAD weather radar network operated by NOAA, the KJKL (Jackson, KY) and KLVX (Louisville, KY) radars record signatures consistent with falling meteorites.
The first appearance of falling meteorites on radar occurs at 01:26:14.5 UTC and 11,020 m above sea level (ASL) in the 01:20 UTC data set for the KJKL radar in the 2.5 degree elevation radar sweep. Signatures consistent with falling meteorites appear in a total of a total of four radar sweeps from the two radars, with a final signature appearing at 01:35:35.5 UTC. All are relatively high altitude, from 10.85km to 17.2km above sea level (ASL).
Uncertainties in the fireball terminus altitude and meteorite type result in a calculation of total mass with very large errors. However, crude estimates of mass and total number of meteorites based on weather radar data indicate that this meteorite fall is very small, most likely to the point that no meteorites will be recovered from this event.
Overall, this potential meteorite fall is presented as a curiosity. Radar indicates the standard factors for identifying a meteorite fall, at the time and place indicated by detection of a meteor by eyewitnesses and all-sky camera imagery. It will be surprising if any meteorites are recovered from this small event, however. The possibility exists that this potential fall was caused by a metal-rich meteorite type, producing noticeable radar signatures for what was a very small meteorite fall.