Meteor seen across wide swath of Pacific Northwest

Meteor seen across wide swath of Pacific Northwest »Play Video
The bright white meteor is seen on the left side of this image from a security camera at Providence Portland Medical Center in Oregon.

SEATTLE - A meteor streaked through the sky over the Pacific Northwest early Tuesday, drawing reports of bright lights and sonic booms in parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

The streak of light across the sky and flash was seen by pilots from Boise, Idaho, westward well into Washington state.

"I'm convinced it was a meteor," said Geoff Chester, spokesman for the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. "It was a classic description of a fireball."

Chester speculated the meteor was the size of a big suitcase and had been orbiting the sun for millions of years before entering Earth's orbit.

Callers from across Western Washington reported seeing the bright light at about 5:30 a.m.

Dale Bunge lives in Monroe and said he first thought it was an aircraft until he noticed what looked like flame around the meteor.

"The amount of fire was incredible, unlike any shooting star I have ever seen," he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a private pilot reported seeing the meteor hit the Earth in a burst of light near State Route 26 and the Lind-Hatton Road about 5:45 a.m.

The Adams County sheriff's office had no immediate reports of damage, injury or a meteor landing in the area, about 175 miles east-southeast of Seattle and 90 miles southwest of Spokane.

Due to the size of such meteors and how high they are in the atmosphere, it's often difficult for people to judge how far away the object actually is.

Chester said people commonly think they see a meteor hit or about to hit the ground, when it is nowhere close. Most meteorites that strike the Earth are never found, he said.

"When you see objects like this in the sky your sense of scale is distorted," he said. "It's a common optical illusion."

Several security cameras in Eastern Washington captured white and green flash as the meteor moved through the area.

The photos below were taken from a security camera at Providence Portland Medical Center in Oregon.


It's not the first time large meteors have streaked across Northwest skies.

On June 3, 2004 a large bolide meteor lit up a huge patch of sky, briefly turning night to day.

On March 12, 2005 another fireball-like meteor caused a green streak high in the atmosphere that was visible across much of Western Washington.

Have photos or security camera video that captured the meteor or the flash? E-mail us at