Fake Radar Echoes Today

May 3, 2011

I don’t want to get the conspiracy theorists too excited, but this afternoon’s Portland radar shows a good example of “chaff”. 

Military aircraft training sometimes includes bits of metal or foil that are thrown out of airplanes to confuse ground radar.  It’s a countermeasure similar to those great scenes in the movie Hunt for Red October when the sub barely escapes the other Russian sub by dropping those packets to confuse the incoming torpedoes (Captain!  Vy are they trying to kill us!).  I have to admit I’m not an expert on this and gained what little knowledge I have from Jim Little when we worked together at KOIN-TV.  He was originally in the Air Force so he seemed to be in the know.  Of course if I say much else, I might get a visit from gentlemen in black suits and black SUV’s tomorrow morning at home, but obviously there was some sort of training offshore or over us today.

You can see the last of the leftover showers moving into the South Washington Cascades while the chaff (probably higher up) shoots by quickly overhead from NW to SE.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen