Rain of animals
Raining animals is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which flightless animals fall from the sky. Such occurrences have been reported in many countries throughout history. One hypothesis is that tornadic waterspouts sometimes pick up creatures such as fish or frogs, and carry them for up to several miles. However, this aspect of the phenomenon has never been witnessed by scientists.
Rain of flightless animals and things has been reported throughout history. In the first century AD, Roman naturalist Pliny The Elder documented storms of frogs and fish. In 1794, French soldiers saw toads fall from the sky during heavy rain at Lalain, near the French city of Lille. Rural inhabitants in Yoro, Honduras, claim 'fish rain' happens there every summer, a phenomenon they call Lluvia de Peces.
French physicist André-Marie Ampère (1775 – 1836) was among the first scientists to take seriously accounts of raining animals. Addressing the Society of Natural Sciences,[when?] Ampère suggested that at times frogs and toads roam the countryside in large numbers, and that violent winds could pick them up and carry them great distances.
After a reported rain of fish in Singapore in 1861, French naturalist Francis de Laporte de Castelnau speculated that a migration of walking catfish had taken place, dragging themselves over land from one puddle to another, following the rain.
Sometimes the animals survive the fall, suggesting the animals are dropped shortly after extraction. Several witnesses of raining frogs describe the animals as startled but healthy, and exhibiting relatively normal behavior shortly after the event. In some incidents, the animals are frozen to death or even completely encased in ice. There are examples where the product of the rain is not intact animals, but shredded body parts.
A current scientific hypothesis involves tornadic waterspouts: a tornado that forms over the water. Under this hypothesis, a tornadic waterspout transports animals to relatively high altitudes, carrying them over large distances. This hypothesis appears supported by the type of animals in these rains: small and light, usually aquatic, and by the suggestion that the rain of animals is often preceded by a storm. However, the theory does not account for how all the animals involved in each individual incident would be from only one species, and not a group of similarly-sized animals from a single area.
In the case of birds, storms may overcome a flock in flight, especially in times of migration. The image to the right shows an example wherein a group of bats is overtaken by a thunderstorm. In the image, the bats are in the red zone, which corresponds to winds moving away from the radar station, and enter into a mesocyclone associated with a tornado (in green). These events may occur easily with birds, which can get killed in flight, or stunned and then fall (unlike flightless creatures, which first have to be lifted into the air by an outside force). Sometimes this happens in large groups, for instance, the blackbirds falling from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas, United States on December 31, 2010. It is common for birds to become disoriented (for example, because of bad weather or fireworks) and collide with objects such as trees or buildings, killing them or stunning them into falling to their death. The number of blackbirds killed in Beebe is not spectacular considering the size of their congregations, which can be in the millions. The event in Beebe, however, captured the imagination and led to more reports in the media of birds falling from the sky across the globe, such as in Sweden and Italy, though many scientists claim such mass deaths are common occurrences but usually go unnoticed. In contrast, it is harder to find a plausible explanation for rains of terrestrial animals.
The following list is a selection of examples.
- Singapore, February 22, 1861
- Madhesh, Nepal, May 15, 1900
- Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, July 1, 1903
- Marksville, Louisiana, October 23, 1947
- Ilorin, Kwara State Nigeria, May 19 1993
- Knighton, Powys, Wales, 18 August 2004.
- Kerala State, India, February 12, 2008
- Bhanwad, Jamnagar, India, Oct 24, 2009
- Lajamanu, Northern Territory, Australia, February 25 and 26, 2010,
- Loreto, Agusan del Sur, Philippines, January 13, 2012
- IIT Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Sep 12, 2013
- The yearly Lluvia de Peces in Yoro, Honduras
- Chilaw, Sri Lanka, 6 May 2014
- Nandigama, Andhra Pradesh India, 19 June 2015,
- Guntur, Andhra Pradesh India, 16 August 2015
- Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, 20 January 2016
- Pathapatnam, Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh, 19 May 2016
- Mexico, Tamaulipas, Tampico, 26 September 2017
- Oroville, California, 16 May 2017
- Jaffna, Sri Lanka, 7 November 2017
- Golpayegan, Iran, 3 April 2018
- Albury, Australia, 1974
- San Bernardo Mountain, Salta Province, Argentina, 2007
- Santo Antônio da Platina, Brazil, February 3, 2013
- Goulburn, Australia, 15 May 2015
Frogs and toads
- Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, June 2009 (occurrences reported throughout the month)
- Rákóczifalva, Hungary, 18–20 June 2010 (twice)
- Cabo Polonio, Uruguay, Since 2011 (twice)
- Jellyfish: Bath, England, 1894
- Worms: Jennings, Louisiana, July 11, 2007
- Various marine animals, including octopuses, seashells and starfish: Qingdao, Shandong Province, China, June 13, 2018
"Raining cats and dogs"
The English idiom "it is raining cats and dogs", used to describe an especially heavy rain, is of unknown etymology, and is not necessarily related to the "raining animals" phenomenon. The phrase (with "polecats" instead of "cats") was used at least since the 17th century. A number of possible etymologies have been put forward to explain the phrase, for example:
- Drainage systems on buildings in 17th-century Europe were poor, and may have disgorged their contents during heavy showers, including the corpses of any animals that had accumulated in them. This occurrence is documented in Jonathan Swift's 1710 poem 'Description of a City Shower', in which he describes "Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud,/Dead cats and turnip-tops come tumbling down the flood."
- "Cats and dogs" may be a corruption of the Greek word Katadoupoi, referring to the waterfalls on the Nile, possibly through the old French word catadupe ("waterfall").
- The Greek phrase "kata doksa", which means "contrary to expectation" is often applied to heavy rain, but there is no evidence to support the theory that it was borrowed by English speakers.
In addition to at least one folk etymology:
- An "explanation" widely circulated by email claimed that in 16th-century Europe when peasant homes were commonly thatched, animals could crawl into the thatch to find shelter from the elements, and would fall out during heavy rain. However, there seems to be no evidence in support of either assertion.
There may not be a logical explanation; the phrase may have been used just for its nonsensical humor value, like other equivalent English expressions ("it is raining pitchforks", "hammer handles", etc.).
- Afan Oromo: Waaqatu baqaqe ("the sky got torned")
- Afrikaans: ou vrouens met knopkieries reën ("old women with clubs")
- Bengali: মুষলধারে বৃষ্টি পড়ছে musholdhare brishṭi poṛchhe ("rain is falling like pestles")
- Bosnian: padaju ćuskije ("crowbars")
- Bosnian: lije ko iz kabla ("it's pouring like from a bucket")
- Cantonese: "落狗屎" ("dog poo")
- Chinese: "倾盆大雨" ("its pouring out of basins")
- Catalan: Ploure a bots i barrals ("boats and barrels")
- Croatian: padaju sjekire ("axes dropping")
- Czech: padají trakaře ("wheelbarrows")
- Czech: leje jako z konve ("like from a watering can")
- Danish: det regner skomagerdrenge ("shoemakers' apprentices")
- Dutch: het regent pijpenstelen ("pipe stems or stair rods")
- Dutch (Flemish): het regent oude wijven ("old women")
- Dutch (Flemish): het regent kattenjongen ("kittens")
- Estonian: sajab nagu oavarrest ("It's raining like from a beanstalk")
- Finnish: Sataa kuin Esterin perseestä ("It's raining like from Esteri's ass")
- Finnish: Sataa kuin saavista kaatamalla ("It's raining like poured from a bucket")
- French: il pleut comme vache qui pisse ("it is raining like a peeing cow")
- French: il pleut des seaux ("it's raining buckets")
- French: il pleut des hallebardes ("it is raining halberds"), clous ("nails"), or cordes ("ropes")
- German: Es regnet junge Hunde ("young dogs") or Es schüttet wie aus Eimern ("like poured from buckets")
- Greek: βρέχει καρεκλοπόδαρα ("chair legs")
- Hindi: मुसलधार बारिश (musaldhār bārish) ("rain like a pestle [onto a mortar]")
- Hungarian: mintha dézsából öntenék ("like poured from a vat")
- Icelandic: Það rignir eins og hellt sé úr fötu ("like poured from a bucket")
- Kannada:ಮುಸಲಧಾರೆ, ಕುಂಭದ್ರೋಣ ಮಳೆ ("a stream of mallets")
- Italian: piove a catinelle ("poured from a basin")
- Latvian: līst kā no spaiņiem ("it's raining like from buckets")
- Lithuanian: pila kaip iš kibiro ("it's pouring like from a bucket")
- Malayalam: പേമാരി pemari ("mad rain")
- Marathi: मुसळधार पाउस("rain like a pestle [onto a mortar]")
- Nepali: मुसलधारे झरी ("rain like a pestle [onto a mortar]")
- Norwegian: det regner trollkjerringer ("she-trolls")
- Polish: leje jak z cebra ("like from a bucket")
- Portuguese: chovem or está chovendo/a chover canivetes ("penknives")
- Portuguese: chove a potes/baldes ("it is raining by the pot/bucket load")
- Portuguese: chove a cântaros/canecos ("it is raining by the jug load")
- Portuguese (Brazil): chovem cobras e lagartos ("snakes and lizards")
- Portuguese (Brazil): está caindo um pau-d'água ("a stick of water is falling")
- Portuguese (Brazil): está caindo um pé-d'água ("a foot of water is falling")
- Romanian: plouă cu broaşte ("raining frogs")
- Romanian: plouă cu găleata ("from a bucket")
- Russian: льет как из ведра ("from a bucket")
- Spanish: están lloviendo chuzos de punta ("shortpikes/icicles point first" - not only is it raining a lot, but it's so cold and windy that being hit by the drops hurts)
- Spanish: está lloviendo a cántaros ("by the clay pot-full")
- Spanish: llueven sapos y culebras ("toads and snakes")
- Spanish (Argentina): caen soretes de punta ("pieces of dung head-first")
- Spanish (Venezuela): está cayendo un palo de agua ("a stick of water is falling")
- Spanish (Colombia): estan lloviendo maridos ("it's raining husbands")
- Serbian: padaju sekire ("axes")
- Swedish: Det regnar smådjävlar ("It is raining little devils")
- Swedish: Det regnar småspik ("It is raining small nails")
- Swedish: regnet står som spön i backen ("the rain stands like canes hitting the ground")
- Tamil: பேய் மழை pei mazhi ("ghost rain")
- Telugu: కుండపోత వర్షం kundapotha varsham ("torrential rain")
- Turkish: bardaktan boşanırcasına ("like poured from a cup")
- Urdu: musladhār bārish ("rain like a pestle [on a mortar]")
- Welsh: mae hi'n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn ("old ladies and sticks")
- Blood rain
- Flying fish
- Lluvia de Peces, (Honduras, "Fish rain")
- Red rain in Kerala
- Star jelly
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