have you ever wondered why when the rain is coming down in
a torrent we talk of it 'raining cats and dogs'.
I am grateful to Paul Penfold of Bibury, Gloucestershire for
telling me that this has its origins in medieval times.
used to live in tiny hovels with thatched straw roofs.
Their cats and dogs would live outside and often climbed onto
the roof to bed down for the night, presumably warmed by the
heat from the fires inside the hovels.
When there was very heavy rain falling, the straw would become
very slippery and the animals often fell to the ground!
if cats and dogs did not exactly fall from the skies what
about other flora and fauna?
his book, Weird Weather, Paul Simons tells of a nine-year-old
resident of Shepton Mallet who got caught outside in a shower.
Initially, the lad thought it was a shower of hail. He shook
his hair to remove what he thought were hailstones, only to
discover that they were small frogs.
similar event was reported in Trowbridge on June 16th 1939.
The Meteorological Magazine carries this account:
E Ettles, superintendent of the municipal swimming pool stated
that about 4:30pm he was caught in a heavy shower of rain
and, while hurrying to shelter, heard behind him a sound as
of the falling of lumps of mud.
seem to get swept away quite often
he was amazed to see hundreds of tiny frogs falling on to
the concrete path around the bath. Later many more were found
to have fallen on the grass nearby.
seem to have a particularly tough time when it comes to these
A fall of jellyfish is even more unusual but one is reported
to have occurred in Bath in 1894.
unfortunate creatures that have fallen from the skies include
flounders, minnows, snails mussels, maggots, crayfish, geese
and even live snakes.
how do we account for such bizarre happenings?
The fact that fish and amphibians are the most commonly observed
creatures suggests that the source are often maritime in nature.
Waterspouts are more common that tornadoes, their land-based
Less energy is required to produce these phenomena and whilst
water obviously gets sucked up into the parent cloud, so too
on occasion must whatever lies close to the surface.
also accounts for the presence of frogs, tadpoles and other
freshwater creatures. But some of the other accounts do present
something of a poser.
only a single species of animal appear to fall. Sometimes
they are alive, sometimes dead and sometimes dead and very,
and whirlwinds suck up all manner of material, both organic
Sooner or later the energy within the twister will run out
and gravity has its way.
When that happens, look out! There could be something strange
tumbling out of the sky.