Mystery deepens: Radar captures mysterious turbulence over Beebe, Ark. as doomed birds take flight
By: Mark Johnson
CLEVELAND – They looked like newly developing thunderstorms, but they were not. Storms were well east of the Little Rock, Arkansas radar when the mysterious anomalies began to appear. Four times between 9pm, December 31st and 1am on January 1, these circular radar echoes popped up on NEXRAD Doppler radar, expanding outward and then fading away. All in about 15 to 20 minutes. What’s more, each time, these anomalies developed in the exact same spot: over Beebe, Arkansas.
At about 11:30pm, on New Years Eve, thousands of red-winged blackbirds began falling from the sky over Beebe. Beebe is located just under 30 miles form the Little Rock radar sight. That’s close enough for any high-powered doppler radar to detect plumes of smoke, large colonies of insects…and large flocks of birds. In fact, its very common to see birds and insects taking flight on radar. it shows up as a large circular echo that gradually expands outward before disappearing a few minutes later.
If you talk to residents of Beebe, Arkansas, they’ll tell you millions of birds fly over the area and roost nearby during this time of year. Its a popular bird route north and southward between the Ozark Plateau and the Mississippi River to the east.
The first radar image here shows the mysterious circular echo developing at 10:26pm, December 31st right over Beebe. Note the brighter colors in the center of the echo. That’s a large concentration of…something…rising into the air. A few scans later, the echo fades, only to appear again just after midnight in the same spot.
Was it birds? No large fires were reported in Beebe from 9pm through 1am that night. So we can rule out the smoke theory. The fireworks theory may have spooked the birds, but fireworks would be too small to show up on radar. Besides, there were not 4 separate fireworks shows in the same location lasting 20 minutes each in Beebe, Arkansas on New Years Eve.