3/26/2021 @ 0400
46.83516 • -120.031275
This event is not a meteorite fall. It is a re-entry of a SpaceX Falcon 9 upper stage (https://aerospace.org/reentries/falcon-9-rb-id-47782). This event was widely reported in the Pacific Northwest and occurred at 9 PM local time on 25 March 2021, or 26 March at 0400 UTC. The fireball was a long-lasting and slow-moving cascade of many fragments, with further fragmentation visible as the debris progressed across the sky. The relatively slow speed and flat trajectory of this event are hallmarks of a space debris re-entry event, as opposed to the short duration and (relatively) high inclination angle typical for meteor events. Sixty-eight eyewitnesses reported it to the American Meteor Society across CA, MT, OR and WA. Eleven eyewitnesses reported hearing sonic booms from the falling debris. The largest fragmentation event appears to have occurred near Yakima, WA, with many radar signatures evident NE of that city.
At least one piece of debris has been recovered from this event.
This event is recorded as American Meteor Society event number 1916 for 2021. Signatures of falling meteorites can be found in imagery from four nearby weather radars. In the NEXRAD weather radar network operated by NOAA, the KOTX (Spokane, WA), KPDT (Pendleton, WA), KRTX (Portland, OR), and KATX (Seattle, WA) radars record signatures of falling debris.
Radar signatures are abundant due to the high radar reflectivity of metal-rich spacecraft debris. The first appearance of falling meteorites on radar occurs at ~0400 UTC and 8k m above sea level (ASL) in the 0354 UTC data set for the KATX radar in the second 0.48 degree elevation radar sweep. Radar signatures continue to appear for about two hours after the event as fine but highly reflective metallic debris slowly falls from high altitude. Strong winds out of the NW quickly moved falling material southeast of the estimated ground track (white line in the composite image).