Ladybug swarm detected by weather radar over Southern California

The government’s NEXRAD radar is so sensitive that it often picks up birds, bugs, bats and lots of other stuff meteorologists call “angels.”
You could see the angels flying over Southern California on Tuesday night.

When National Weather Service radar picked up a giant blob moving swiftly over southwestern San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, around 8 p.m., forecasters at the agency’s San Diego office called spotters on the ground, who told them it was an enormous swarm of ladybugs.


The weather service told the Los Angeles Times that the ladybug “bloom” appeared to be 80 miles by 80 miles, flying at 5,000 to 9,000 feet.

Since the 1990s, the weather service’s parent agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has deployed 159 super-detailed Doppler radar installations called NEXRAD, for Next-Generation Radar.

About 10 years ago, it upgraded the system with what it calls Super Resolution, which allows vastly more detailed imagery. The imagery is so detailed, in fact, that it frequently picks up so-called non-weather targets like the ladybug swarm on Tuesday.

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