The shower on May 22, 687 BC (proleptic Julian calendar) was recorded in Zuo Zhuan, which describes the shower as "On day xīn-mǎo of month 4 in the summer (of year 7 of King Zhuang of Lu), at night, fixed stars are invisible, at midnight, stars dropped down like rain. (夏四月辛卯 夜 恆星不見 夜中 星隕如雨)
The shower usually peaks on around April 22 and the morning of April 23. Counts typically range from 5 to 20 meteors per hour, averaging around ten. Observers in the country will see more, observers in the city less.
Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2. However, some meteors can be brighter, known as "Lyrid fireballs", cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smokey debris trails that last minutes.
Occasionally, the shower intensifies when the Earth passes through a thicker part of the dust trail, resulting in a Lyrid meteor storm. In 1982, amateur astromomers counted 90 Lyrids per hour. A stronger storm ocurred in 1803, observed by a journalist in Richmond, Virginia:
"Shooting stars. This electrical [sic] phenomenon was observed on Wednesday morning last at Richmond and its vicinity, in a manner that alarmed many, and astonished every person that beheld it. From one until three in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers as to resemble a shower of sky rockets..."