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Friday 20 August 2004
It's raining fish!
Scattered fish shower
Freak fishfalls are not as rare as you might think

Funny weather we've been having lately - but nothing quite as funny as the weather reported this week in the Shropshire village of Knighton.

On Wednesday, residents were more than a little surprised to be caught in a deluge of fish.

audio"There were at least a dozen small fish lying dead on the pavement" Kevin Kell on the freak fish fall(28k)
Fortean Times
Online journal of strange phenomena
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Pliney the Elder mentioned storms of frogs and fish in the first century

1841: Live fish fell from the sky in Aberdare

1864: A Quebec farmer found a frog inside a hailstone

1930: An 8-inch turtle fell during a Mississippi storm

1976: Olympic yachts pelted by live maggots
At least four Scottish fish-falls recorded in the past 20 years - in Fife, Ross-shire, Perthshire and Argyll

Falling frogs reported in Llanddewi, Wales, in 1996, and two years later in Croydon, south London

As we're at the height of the silly season, the event has had journalists reaching for copies of the Bible in order to suggest what might be next.

A plague of frogs or locusts perhaps? Or maybe the River Teme will run red with blood? Let's not get on to the deaths of the first born...

Anyway, the shower of fish was witnessed by members of a local writers' group. Member Kevin Kell described to BBC Radio Shropshire what he saw.

It's raining fish!
...and in the Midlands expect sharp showers of fish, clearing later...

Mr Kell described how he was on his way to the meeting at the social room in St Edward's Close, Knighton, at about 2.45pm on Wednesday, 18 August 2004.

There had been a thunderstorm and a heavy shower just before he left his home, but on arriving at the meeting he was surprised to see other group members standing around, looking at the pavement.

Each wore a confused expression, and as Mr Kell approached he saw why.

"There were at least a dozen small fish - like minnows - lying dead on the pavement," he told BBC Radio Shropshire's Shropshire Tonight programme.

"We were just puzzled, really."

Yet in an even more bizarre development, some of the fish were still showing signs of life when they first landed, Mr Kell said.

However, those looking for a mystery (or miracle) of fish falling from the sky are likely to be disappointed to learn that there is a rational explanation for it.

Well, sort of.

Bob Rickard is founding editor of the Fortean Times, the journal of strange phenomena worldwide. He says that fish falling with rain, although unusual, happens quite often.

Now it's raining frogs!
OK. We admit that raining three-headed frogs may be stretching a point, but it was a good picture

He said: "Fish have been observed to be sucked up from the sea by tornados, but it usually only happens within a few miles of the coast."

So fish falling in Knighton - a good 50 miles from the nearest piece of coastline - is rare indeed.

The Met Office says these occurences are not as uncommon as they may sound. In fact they are reported quite often.

Other than rain itself, fish are the most common thing reported falling from the sky, but rains of frogs, tomatoes and even lumps of coal have been known to fall too.

Apparently, given strong enough winds, such as found in the thunderstorms that lashed Shropshire on the day the fish fell, small whirlwinds and mini-tornadoes may form.

And when they travel over water they can pick up small objects, such as fish and frogs and carry them for a distance of a few miles.

But when the clouds open, the fish, frogs etc fall along with the rain.

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