A big meteor exploded in the skies over southern Florida and northwest Cuba yesterday local early afternoon, February 1. It produced a damaging sonic boom and dropped meteorites in Cuba. Here is some new information.



Sonic booms rattled northwestern Cuba, reportedly damaging and breaking windows. Sonic booms are common with meteors that penetrate deep into the atmosphere and produce meteorite falls. Eyewitness reports of the brilliant meteor compiled by the American Meteor Society produce a preliminary track for the meteor which aligns well with the reported meteorite fall.



Meteorite fall is now confirmed near Viñales, Cuba. Reported meteorites exhibit typical characteristics of fresh meteorite falls, with partially or fully developed dark fusion crust enveloping the meteorites. A fusion crust forms during the meteorite’s fiery blast through the atmosphere. On the inside the meteorites appear grayish, typical for stony meteorites. At least one reported meteorite displays flow lines indicating oriented flight: the melted surface was exposed to constant flow as the meteorite descended, producing flow lines. Some black veins are apparent on exposed fresh breaks in the meteorites in some photos, indicating prior shock fracturing of the rock, likely during its time in the main asteroid belt. There is no official number of recovered meteorites, however, dozens have been reported and the number in such larger meteorite falls can go into hundreds or even thousands. It is likely that only a very small percentage of the incoming rock (meteoroid) survived, maybe in the 1-3% range.

Note the radial flow lines on the meteorite on the left.


Satellites detected both the flash of the meteor and its smoke trail:

Flash:


Smoke trail:


Falling meteorites possibly detected by US NWS weather radar:


First estimates of released energy in this event based on infrasound detections of the meteor by distant sensors in Canada indicate an initial size of the meteoroid was about 2 m at maximum and the released energy was about the same as an explosion of 400 tons of TNT.



We will be providing additional updates as new information becomes available.