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No. 36: Nov-Dec 1984

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Whirlwind spirals in cereal fields: quintuplet formations

"In 1983, as British meteorologists are well aware, Britain had one of its better summers of the century, with July proving to be the hottest in the 300-year record. At the same time, 1983 proved to be a bumper summer for the production of 'mystery spirals' (and for heat whirlwinds generally). Moreover, and entirely unexpectedly, some of the spiral formations turned out to be symmetrically complex systems in an extraordinary manner: as many as four sets in different parts of southern England were found to consist of a single circle attended by four smaller satellite ones.

"The beauty of these sets of circles caught the attention of the national newspapers, and thence the imagination of the general public. The story about the manner and the sequence of several of the 1983 discoveries has been given by Ian Mrzyglod (Probe Report, vol. 4, 4-11). Here, we shall simply summarize the main facts, many of which have not been detailed before.

"Set 1. Set of five circles at Bratton, Wiltshire (NGR ST 902522, below and northeast of the Westbury White Horse), consisting of one large circle (15 m diameter) and four satellites (each 4 m diameter). The distance between opposite pairs of circles was about 40 m (centre to centre)."

The other three sets are very similar and are omitted here. The aerial photo-graphs of the quintuplets are remarkable. Meteorologists describe the circles as being the consequence of a large central whirlwind accompanied by four satellites. There seems to be some aero-dynamic basis for accepting the reality of large vortexes attended by several smaller ones.

(Meaden, G.T.; "Whirlwind Spirals in Cereal-Fields: The Quintuplet Formations of 1983," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 9:137, 1984. Journal address: 54 Frome Road, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 1LD ENGLAND.))

Comment. The regularity of whirlwind circles has prompted some to label them "UFO nests." Desert dust devils and steam devils often exhibit coordinated motion and geometrical organization. See GWW0 in Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation. This book is described here.

Some dynamically possible whirlwind patterns. Some dynamically possible whirlwind patterns. SET 1 conformed to the second pattern.

From Science Frontiers #36, NOV-DEC 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987