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Swarm Of Butterflies Over St. Louis Confuses Meteorologists

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Late last week, meteorologists in St. Louis noticed an unusual cloud moving peculiarly.   The cloud was rapidly changing into a variety of strange shapes as it was on its way to Mexico.

In a bizarre turn of events, meteorologists realized the cloud wasn’t actually a cloud. After analyzing the reflections, the National Weather Service concluded they showed an immense swarm of Monarch butterflies migrating to their winter home in the Mexican mountains.

‘’Keen observers of our radar data probably noticed some fairly high returns moving south over southern Illinois and central Missouri. High differential reflectivity values as well as low correlation coefficient values indicate these are most likely biological targets. High differential reflectivity indicates these are oblate targets, and low correlation coefficient means the targets are changing shape. We think these targets are Monarch butterflies. A Monarch in flight would look oblate to the radar, and flapping wings would account for the changing shape! NWS St. Louis wishes good luck and a safe journey to these amazing little creatures on their long journey south!’’

North America’s Monarch population has been falling in numbers in the past few years, but radar shots from St. Louis show that the Monarchs aren’t extinct quite yet.

The shape of the swarm was also weird– it resembled a large butterfly. The last time something similar was caught on radar happened in 2011, when thousands of birds formed into a bird shape above Beebe, Arkansas, right before falling out of the sky, dead.

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