Five Times It Rained Something Other Than Water

Not creepy — or apocalyptic — at all
Five Times It Rained Something Other Than Water

Everyone knows what rain is: Water that falls from the sky. But sometimes shit goes cray-cray, and the puddles people find are anything but watery. There are plenty of everyday things that can go a bit goofy without anything seeming too untoward, but once living creatures are plunging from the sky instead of drops of water, it’s hard not to feel like the world might be kind of falling apart.

Most of the time, the explanation is fairly straightforward: “tornadic waterspouts,” which begin on land before passing over the sea, can on rare occasions suck up, say, a school of fish and drop them elsewhere later. A worm-storm near Baton Rouge in 2009 was one of these — a bunch of worms sucked into the sky and deposited on a surprised public. Simple, disgusting, fine.

But sometimes it’s not so simple…

When Kentucky Was Showered with Flesh

The “Kentucky Meat Shower” of March 3, 1876 remains something of a mystery. Between 11 and 12 that morning, chunks of unknown meat fell from the sky. The New York Times quoted one man describing what his wife saw (it was 1876, women weren’t invited to share their own stories): “The meat, which looked like beef, fell all around her. The sky was perfectly clear at the time, and she said it fell like large snowflakes.”

The chunks — mostly about two-inch cubes, with some as large as four inches — were hard to identify, with theories ranging from an algae-like bacteria called nostoc to the fully distressing suggestion “lung tissue from either a human infant or a horse.” Two men who declined to give their names ate some and said it tasted like mutton or venison. (There’s still a sample of it in a jar at the nearby Transylvania University.)

Ultimately, the most plausible theory, put forward by an elderly farmer and endorsed by doctors, was that a flock of vultures had been nearby, and had been frightened by something. As they’d taken to the sky, one of them had vomited. Now, vultures, due to their habit of eating the roughest shit around, have a kind of barf-solidarity system — one pukes, they all puke. It’s a hell of a rule to live by, and that morning, it made a hell of a mess.

When Blood Fell from the Sky

Blood falling from the sky is one of those “Oh well, guess it’s time for every one of us to die then” moments that you hope will never happen. But it does! Due to being, y’know, terrifying, most of the times it’s happened over the last few thousand years it’s been interpreted as some kind of portent of doom — it crops up in The Iliad, happened during the earliest days of Rome and was seen as a precursor to the Black Death in Europe. More recently, Kerala in India has seen two blood-red rainfalls in 2001 and 2012. 

The cause of the color is somewhat counterintuitive — rather than a sensible reason like “the wrath of God,” it’s caused by green bacteria. No blood was found in any of the rain, just large concentrations of spores from the genus Trentepohlia. These had grown in huge amounts in the weeks preceding Kerala’s storms and were taken up into the clouds by, well, the jury’s still slightly out on how it all happened in a way that resulted in such a dramatic, localized effect. So you never know, there might still be some godly wrath involved.

Honduras’ Regular Fish Storms

There is an area of Honduras, Yoro, that gets regular rainfalls of fish, up to four times annually. It’s known as the Lluvia de peces, or “rain of fish,” which, yep, makes pretty great sense as a name. Yoro is around 45 miles inland, and for some of the people who live there, the free fish that cascade from the sky are the only seafood of the year.  

Exactly where the fish come from remains uncertain — none of the explanations that involve them being scooped up from the Atlantic by winds explain them arriving in the same town every time. A reasonable amount of the population are devout Catholics who are happy enough to see it all as a blessing from God. 

Something worth bearing in mind is that the actual fishfall is yet to be documented — it always comes as part of a bigger storm. There are theories that the fish might actually come from underground rivers that flood during these storms and are flushed out onto land, but that’s so much less exciting than a rain of fish that it doesn’t seem worth investigating.

Japan’s Tadpole Drizzle

Finding bird shit on your car sucks, right? What about finding hundreds of tadpoles that have plummeted from the skies? That’s a whole new realm of grim. It happened, however, to people in the Ishikawa Prefecture of central Japan in 2009. Over the course of a week or so, multiple small falls of baby frogs (pre-frogs?) were documented, peppering people’s windshields like wiggly-tailed polka dots (or a prequel to the frog rain scene in Magnolia).

No explanation was ever reached — a theory that seagulls might have dropped them was swiftly dismissed, and the calm weather preceding the tadpole rain meant no theories involving mini-tornadoes or other meteorological suckings-up seemed plausible either. 

Spiders from Above Down Under

In 2015, residents of Goulburn in New South Wales, Australia, awoke to find thousands upon thousands of spiders falling from the skies, followed by trails of web that littered the landscape like nightmarish snow. 

Rather than any kind of spouts or Biblical plagues, the explanation was a reasonably straightforward collision of simple arachnid-ness and weather. Spiders do something called “ballooning,” where they launch a thread of silk into the wind and relocate — it’s going on all the time. On this occasion, there had been a run of suboptimal ballooning weather, and as soon as conditions changed, an absurd amount of spiders launched themselves into the sky at once, subsequently raining down on Goulburn. 

One resident described the web- and spider-littered landscape as “beautiful,” pointing out the one inconvenience was that his beard was filled with spiders. Hellish.

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