Cicadas Swarm Washington, DC in Cloud so Thick It’s Showing Up on Radar: ‘This Is Our Super Bowl’

A swarm of bugs so immense that it’s showing up on weather radar – this is not a story about Africa. It’s what’s happening in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post reports over the weekend the National Weather Service (NWS) had to respond to images on its weather radar that are usually interpreted as light rain or snow. The weather service even tweeted about the “biological” images appearing on their radar.

“You may have noticed a lot of fuzziness (low reflectivity values) on our radar recently. The Hydrometeor Classification algorithm shows much of it to be Biological in nature. Our guess? It’s probably the #cicadas,” the NWS Baltimore-Washington bureau wrote. 

Several Twitter users also noted the category 5 storm of cicadas, posting different views of the swarm of bugs as it moved near the NWS radar based in Sterling, Va. 

Forbes Magazine reports D.C. residents have described a sharp increase in cicada numbers as warmer temperatures have sparked the emergence of perhaps trillions of the Brood X insects to come up from their subterranean hibernation spots.

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“For 17 years they’ve been underground living a COVID-like existence, social distancing. But in the 17th year, they come up, usually at nightfall, they make a mad dash to the trunk of a tree or another vertical structure. Their exoskeleton or skin splits open and the beautiful adult cicada comes out,” Michael Raupp, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland told The Associated Press.

The cicadas have been spotted in Washington, D.C. as well as Maryland and Virginia. The insects have also been spotted as far west as Indiana and Kentucky.  

“This is our Super Bowl, absolutely, for entomologists, we’ve been looking forward to this,” Raupp, also known as “the bug guy,” told WAMU – American University Radio back in March before the cicadas began to emerge. 

Raupp told the station the insects’ return would be a “spectacular event.”

WSBTV.com reported in April that it sounded like a biblical prophecy as billions of cicadas would be descending upon the state of Georgia soon. 

The Atlanta television station noted the bugs would be hard to miss because their mating calls can reach up to 100 decibels. That’s the same magnitude of sound that a lawnmower produces. 

“This is like having a National Geographic special in your backyard,” Raupp said. 

The U.S. Forest Service released a map showing the active periodical cicada broods in the United States and their next emergence. 

(Map courtesy: U.S. Forest Service)

As CBN News reported at this same time last year, farmers located in India and Pakistan to Africa and the Middle East were facing a plague of billions of locusts. Locusts are different than cicadas because they devour crops and put millions of lives at risk. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Locust watch (FAOUN) reported last week that despite an earlier decline, the current upsurge of locusts prevails in the Horn of Africa where good rains allowed breeding to continue with hatching and more hopper bands forming in eastern Ethiopia and northern Somalia.

The locust swarms are expected to move to the Afar region in northeast Ethiopia for summer breeding in August and September where above-normal rains are forecasted.

The FAOUN noted the locusts remain active in the Horn of Africa but are declining in the Arabian Peninsula.

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