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Author Topic: Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?  (Read 12238 times)

Offline Karsten

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The post about the weird storm reminded me of this phenomenon I witnessed one day but could never explain. Maybe someone here can:

I was driving South from Sherbrooke, Quebec towards the US border and I noticed one brownish, smoke-like streak reaching from the ground far, far into the sky. It was a cloudy day, and I saw it from a distance getting closer slowly while I was driving. No other "object" like it anywhere. It looked like a rocket had take off, but we have no rockets here. I must have looked at it for 30 minutes while driving and it was still visible when I got closer to the border, so it must have been in the US (Vermont). At the border the buildings hid the trail (of whatever) and I could not ask the border guard without appearing strange. Then I could not find it anymore.

I am sure I did not hallucinate. I am also sure this "trail" was big and reached very high since it moved so little in front of the background and I never really passed it. It seemed way too high for the smoke of a big fire on the ground. I have never seen a larger rocket take off, but I imagine it leaves a trail like this. Vermont's secret space program??? Should I not have seen this?

I was wondering if this could have been a natural event. But what?

Karsten


 

lyner

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #1 on: 11/01/2009 23:19:25 »
A tornado, perhaps?
 

Offline Karsten

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #2 on: 11/01/2009 23:26:12 »
No tornadoes here really. Well, we had ONE reported last year and it was all over the news because this is so rare. It was not a funnel cloud with a skinny base. It got more distributed towards the ground. I wish I had had a digital camera then.
Karsten
 

paul.fr

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #3 on: 11/01/2009 23:50:22 »
Quebec has an average of 5ish tornadoes per year, and the odd waterspout. So as stated above, it may have been one of these.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #4 on: 12/01/2009 14:46:37 »
I am sorry for not checking this post sooner..As I  havent been well, but I must say ..I have seen What you described at one point several years ago in Boise Idaho!

I was staying with my sister and I was out in the yard when I looked off across the fields and beyond the hill where  I noticed this reddish brown trail looking thing going upwards behind the hill as I watched over the next 45 minutes the thing came closer where you could see it wider at the base as you described and went way up into the sky..... It was very odd and I had never seen such a thing myself hailing from Northern California....My sister had been inside... getting supper ready when she looked out the window.... I thought the trail was getting bigger, when in actuality it was getting closer, more brown now then the reddish brown as before. She opened the door yelled, quick come help me close all the windows.... we were in a trailer house all the windows in every room open as it was 110 degrees f.  She grabbed the babies put them inside handed me a towel an we raced through the house closing windows, then she dampened the towels and rolled them up and blocked the other doors at the floor. She said, "take these sun glasses and cover you head with the towel cuped over the sides of the glasses !" " Put your coat on...."  I was shook up and fightened.. 17 years old. She said, come with me... I have something cool to show you!"

I followed her to the front porch steps where she said, sit down! Its  a dust and sand storm.... We sat and waited. The wind  came up really fast like out of nowhere! We were very quickly engulfed in the middle of this huge dirt bowl... sand and brown dirt Huge tumble weeds I had never seen such a thing, only heard stories.....It looked so different from a distance.. then when upon us we were surrouned by sand and dirt everywhere.. I quickly covered my face better as the sand stung as it slapped against  the unprotected areas of my skin!.. It was quite awesome...I have never experiened that again.... Everything was brown and the air around us was filled with sand and dirt..It took your breath away even with cover!

 I wonder If you seen a similar thing except it went another direction, then where you were?

 Just a thought from my experience of a similar looking phenonenom at a distance!
 

Offline Karsten

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #5 on: 13/01/2009 01:02:45 »
Karen: The way you describe the appearance of this cloud it sure sounds like what I have seen. On the other hand, I have a really hard time imagining this would have been the case here. This is all lush, green, rolling hills pasture country here. If it is not a pasture it is thickly wooded. No dust to stir up to a cloud that high. The weather was calm. No wind to speak of. At the time, it explained to me why this "cloud" does not dissipate. But you describe something that at least LOOKED like what I saw.

A tornado would have been reported. Quebec is huge in comparison to Vermont (so I am not surprised there may be 5 tornadoes), but a tornado or anything like it would have been reported locally. But, I don't listen to the French stations and maybe someone else saw it and they did talk about it. But that would have been so sensational, it would have been mentioned on the VT stations as well and it was just a few miles before I reached VT.

But, who knows. It sure looked weird and I wish I could explain it.

Karsten

 

paul.fr

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #6 on: 13/01/2009 02:46:37 »
Canada has the second highest tornado incidents, some 80 (on average) per year, with Quebec averaging 8% (ish) of those. Do you know what month you witnessed this event?
 

Offline Karsten

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #7 on: 13/01/2009 23:03:32 »
Wow, I did not know that. I wonder if the majority of those Tornadoes occur were it is flat though. This was close the the Green Mountains. But, heck, maybe that does not stop tornadoes.

No idea, which month. It was summer I believe. I opened the window while I was driving to stick my head out the window and look if it was not a weird streak of dirt in my windshield. It was comfortable, so it must have been warm weather.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #8 on: 13/01/2009 23:30:36 »
Well here is the thing.. there was no wind where we were! the wind arrived just before the sand storm... the wind was very sudden and it left just as suddenly as it had came with the swirling dirt and sand! Whereas what you seen moved away from you what we experienced started far off in the distance and then moved right in and passed over us.
 Like a tornado might blow in and out.... it was nice before and again after it had past!
 

Offline Karsten

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #9 on: 15/01/2009 00:56:30 »
So it could have been a tornado. Maybe just barely in the making and never touched down. Cool!
 

paul.fr

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #10 on: 16/01/2009 23:06:37 »
So it could have been a tornado. Maybe just barely in the making and never touched down. Cool!

No. A funnel cloud has to "touchdown" to be classed as a tornado, so it could be possible that you saw a funnel cloud and not a tornado.

I know that Environment Canada and both NOAA and the NWS collate data on Canadian tornadoes but I can't find it!

Here are a few links that may be of interest:

TORNADOES IN CANADA
Meteorological Service of Canada
Canadian Tornadoes
 

paul.fr

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #11 on: 16/01/2009 23:49:45 »
Check this link out also:
Not a Tornado!
 

Offline Karsten

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #12 on: 17/01/2009 02:52:57 »
Thanks for linking the site!

No, it did not look like most pictures. It was less substantial and more like a line of smoke in the foreground. Very straight and not connected to clouds at all. Maybe like the last picture on that site, the white smokeanado. Just brownish, thinner, taller, and almost vertical. Maybe it wanted to be one but never reached smokeanado status. Poor thing. And I was the only one who saw it.  [:-'(]
 

paul.fr

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #13 on: 17/01/2009 15:58:02 »
After re-reading your initial post, it would seem that i got confused and thought the thing you saw was in Canada, but you say it was over the border.

If that is the case then I would have to say that you were seeing a Dust Devil, a picture of which is below.

 

Offline Karsten

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #14 on: 17/01/2009 19:30:38 »
Yeah, looks like it. How tall can those things get? Can they occur in hilly areas that are mostly grass pasture or wooded?

I think the "trail" was just about in Vermont, USA. I was driving that direction and looked at it until I reached the border. Then I had lost it.
 

paul.fr

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #15 on: 17/01/2009 22:59:10 »
This wiki link should answer your questions:
Dust devils

Quote
...Dust devils form when hot air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler low pressure air above it. If conditions are just right, the air may begin to rotate. As the air rises suddenly, the column of hot air is stretched vertically causing intensification of the spinning effect by the scientific principle conservation of angular momentum. The secondary flow in the dust devil causes other hot air to speed horizontally inward to the bottom of the newly-forming vortex. As more hot air rushes in toward the developing vortex to replace the air that is rising, the spinning effect becomes further intensified and self-sustaining. A dust devil, fully formed, is a funnel-like chimney through which hot air moves, both upwards and in a circle. As the hot air rises it cools, loses its buoyancy and eventually ceases to rise. As it rises it displaces air which descends outside the core of the vortex. This cool air returning acts as a balance against the spinning hot air outer wall and keeps the system stable.[4]

The spinning effect, along with surface friction, usually will produce a forward momentum. The dust devil is able to sustain itself longer by moving over nearby sources of hot surface air.

As available extreme hot air near the surface is channeled up the dust devil, eventually surrounding cooler air will be sucked in. Once this occurs, the effect is dramatic and the dust devil dissipates in seconds. Usually this occurs when a dust devil isn't moving fast enough (depletion) or begins to enter a terrain where the surface temperatures are cooler, causing unbalance.[2]

Certain conditions increase the likelihood of dust devil formation.

    * Flat barren terrain, desert or asphalt: Flat conditions increase the likelihood of the hot air "fuel" being a near constant. Dusty or sandy conditions will cause particles to become caught up in the vortex, making the dust devil easily visible.
    * Clear skies or lightly cloudy conditions. The surface needs to absorb significant amounts of solar energy from the Sun to heat the air near the surface and create ideal dust devil conditions.
    * Light or no wind and cool atmospheric temperature. The underlying factor for sustainability of a dust devil is the extreme difference in temperature between the near surface air and atmosphere. Windy conditions will destabilize the spinning effect of a dust devil.
...
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #16 on: 18/01/2009 13:53:30 »
I've seen lots of dust devils in Africa. I was going to suggest that too.
 

Offline Karsten

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #17 on: 18/01/2009 17:42:40 »
OK, I will declare this question answered. What I saw most likely was a dust devil. Thank you all! I can sleep better now.
 

Offline Karsten

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #18 on: 11/09/2009 17:05:51 »
I saw it again! Not as pronounced as the one I described in the original post and I wanted to take a photograph but could not find a place to pull over fast enough. It got fainter and fainter and then it was gone again. Seemed to have no connection to the ground and be rather high up in the air this time. At first it looked like a cloud that was just whisked into this vertical shape, then it changed color and became more brown again. Different location this time. It again looked like a rocket had taken off, but the bottom part of the smoke trail was missing today.

Next time I catch it I will pull over no matter where and snap a picture.
 

Offline SkepticSam

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #19 on: 13/09/2009 23:07:12 »
It again looked like a rocket had taken off, but the bottom part of the smoke trail was missing today.

Next time I catch it I will pull over no matter where and snap a picture.

May be the bottom part had no debris in it, sand, stone or whatever. This would cause it to look clear. It is also possible that your distance and perspective may have made the bootom not appear to be there.
 

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Looked like a rocket had taken off, but what was it?
« Reply #19 on: 13/09/2009 23:07:12 »

 

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