It’s Raining Frogs. Hallelujah?

It’s raining frogs. Aw, man.

“You would not believe some of the things about frogs…Boy, will I ever see them in a new light.”—Prak, Life, the Universe and Everything


Newton gravity posterThings fall out of the sky. That’s just the way gravity works. As long as things go up, things will come down. You don’t need a song to tell you that. Usually, it’s something perfectly normal, like rain or a dead bird. Occasionally, it’s something tragic, like an airplane. Every once in a great while, it’s something that doesn’t even officially exist, like a flying saucer…allegedly. More often than you’d probably think, it’s frogs. And I’m not talking about the Bolivian gliding tiger frog.

How often does this happen?

On August 2, 1889, frogs fell on Savoy, France according to L’Astronomie. August of 1894: a rain of frogs was reported in Wigan, England. A few days later, there was another mysterious downpour in England, this time in Bath. It was a slimy substance later identified as frog spawn. 1804, Toulouse, France: Frogs fell from the sky according to a Professor Pontus. On July 30, 1838, there was a rain of frogs in London. May of 1981: the London Sunday Express reports that frogs, thousands of them, fell on Nafplio, Greece. They were alive and hopping. It must have been quite a trip – at least 400 miles. They were identified as a species native to North Africa. July 22, 1979: Soviet Weekly says that there was a frog shower that fell on Dargan-Ata in Soviet Turkmeni. They were also apparently none the worse for wear. They were hopping around as well. Village of Lalain, France: in 1794, small toads poured down along with rain on soldiers at a nearby army base. September 5, 1922: the London Daily News reported that small toads fell on Chalon-sur-Saone, France for two days. June 7, 2005: According to the Belgrade Blic (a newspaper), thousands of tiny frogs fell on Odzaci in northwestern Serbia. May 21, 1921: the London Evening Standard reported that thousands of frogs fell on Gibraltar. They were all alive and hopping about “in an agitated state.”

Robert Anton Wilson, whose book The New Inquisition was a source for much of this material, suggested that we all might hop around in an agitated state if we were to arrive in Gibraltar in this fashion. Hey, any landing that you can hop away from. The Standard also reported that this had happened in Gibraltar before, just seven years earlier in 1914.

Yes, two of those cases were actually toads, not frogs, but let’s not split hares. There’s been enough carnage already. Besides, toads are a type of frog. I did not know that a week ago. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

But those were all in foreign countries. We Americans all know how gullible and unreliable “those people” are. If this is real, why doesn’t it ever happen here?

Monthly Weather Review reported in July of 1882 that on June 16, ice and frogs fell on Dubuque, Iowa. (Forget the frogs. Ice in June?) Scientific American: a rain of frogs fell on Kansas City in July of 1873 during a storm. July 11, 1864: Frogs embedded in ice fell on Pontiac, Canada. September 7, 1953: a downpour of frogs and toads “of all descriptions” falling from the sky over Leicester, Massachusetts. July, 1901, Minneapolis: a deluge of frogs described as “a huge green mass” falling from the sky. It was so heavy that travel was made impossible. Wagons trying to navigate their way through the mess were getting stuck in slippery piles of frog meat.

Okay, I made that last part up. Nobody slipped in frog meat as far as I know. And one of those was in Canada, not the U.S. But we can trust our friendly neighbors to the north, can’t we?

What have frogs done to deserve this? Why does this only happen to them?

Bournemouth, England, 1948: a rain of herring fell on a golf course. 2002: Great Yarmouth, England experienced a downpour of tiny silver fish, all dead, but still fresh. June 1901: hundreds of catfish, trout and perch fell during a heavy rain at Tiller’s Ferry, South Carolina. Ipswich, Australia, 1989: hundreds of sardines fell in a small area during a light rain. October 23, 1947, Marksville, Louisiana: largemouth bass, sunfish, shad and minnows fell during calm weather. Some were frozen; others merely cold. Singapore, February, 1861: fish fell in various locations around the city. Chilatchee Park, Alabama, 1956: a couple watched as a dark cloud formed overhead, then dumped a load of rain, catfish, bass and bream – all of them alive, except the rain, of course. May 6, 2014: according to the BBC, a rain of small fish (3-5”) fell on a village in the Chilaw region of Sri Lanka. The villagers considered it a blessing and had themselves a giant fish fry…or however they cook fish there. 2010: over 500 fish fell on the town of Lajamanu in the Australian Outback in less than 20 minutes. Some were still alive, but others “exploded” on impact. May 16, 2017: around 100 fish fell on Stanford Ave. Elementary in Oroville, California. A spokesman for the National Weather Service said “There was no meteorological evidence that would explain this.” December 30, 2021: a rain of fish in Texarkana. There were no survivors.

Oh, the  huge manatee!

July of 1947: A fall of manatees in Clearwa…just kidding. What a mess that would be.

How does this happen? Of course there’s a perfectly rational explanation. Scientists have figured it all out. It’s whirlwinds. They swoop down out of the sky, grab the unsuspecting creatures out of their ponds and drop them miles away. Makes perfect sense. Mystery solved. That explains everything. Well, not quite everything.

Whirlwinds, and especially their big brothers, tornadoes, do tend to pick things up from one location and deposit them in another, but they usually aren’t so picky. Anyone who has seen the aftermath of a tornado knows that they don’t discriminate. They pick up anything and everything that isn’t too heavy for them and fling it around with reckless abandon. The whirlwinds in question are far more discerning. They only pick up fish or frogs – never both. They certainly can’t be bothered with things like moss or reeds or leaves or any of a dozen other things that you might find in a pond. Sometimes they only pick up one particular species. Those must be racist segregating whirlwinds. Sorry, I meant speciesist.

At least they’re usually nice about it. Much of the time, the animals do arrive intact, which is a bit odd since they are usually described as falling from the sky, not gently wafting down on a discernable breeze. The fish may not live very long once they get there, but they are frequently described as alive and flopping around like, well, fish out of water. So how do they survive the trip? Unless they’re only out of the water for a very short time, that’s a hard question to answer. That town in Australia was 200 miles from the nearest body of water capable of supporting that size a population of fish. That’s not quite as far as those frogs from Africa that took a trip to Greece, but it’s still pretty impressive, especially if they were unable to breathe the whole time. At least none of the African frogs exploded on impact. These things aren’t investigated because the “experts” already “know” what happened, no matter how unlikely that explanation may be in many cases. It is, ipso facto, the correct explanation because it is the only explanation.

waterspoutThere were several other fish falls that I left out because they happened near the coast, and waterspouts (a kind of weak ocean tornado) do occur sometimes and so could conceivably be the culprit. There’s even a town in Mexico where it rains one kind of fish at least once a year, but scientists think that they have an explanation for that. I don’t think that it’s all that convincing, but I’ll let them have this one.

See? I’m not totally unreasonable. You might point out that some of my fish cases did involve multiple species, but none of those occurred near the ocean or during violent weather. The closest one was 20 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, and waterspouts aren’t that strong and rarely occur over any but the largest lakes, like Lake Michigan. Same with the frogs. And there’s no such thing as a saltwater amphibian, so they don’t come from any ocean.

Oh well. Any explanation is better than no explanation, even if it doesn’t make sense or match witnesses’ descriptions of the event or the official meteorological data concerning the weather conditions. If Dorothy can make it all the way to Oz that way, North African frogs ought to be able to make it to Greece.

But why do these whirlwinds only pick on aquatic creatures?

In August 1870, a “deluge of lizards” hit Sacramento, California. Between 1982 and 1986, tons of kernels of corn periodically rained down on houses in Evans, Colorado. There are no cornfields nearby where it could have come from. Even if there were, who’s cutting it off the cob before it goes flying? South Carolina, 1877: several small alligators, each about a foot long, fell on a farm. They were alive and crawling around. Okay, alligators are aquatic, but at least they add a little variety. Another fall of lizards in 1857, this time in Montreal. No word on the state of the lizards upon arrival in either case. August of 2001, Wichita, Kansas: dried cornhusks rained down on an area of the city. Memphis, Tennessee: in 1877, a rain of snakes fell over the southern part of the city, all of them alive and slithering. They ranged from about a foot to 18” in length and numbered in the thousands. Scientific American looked into this and, although they were sticking to their whirlwind story, even they confessed that where so many snakes would exist “in such abundance is yet a mystery.”

Really think about that. Where on Earth can you find thousands of snakes in such a small area that even the most powerful tornado could grab them all? Certainly not anywhere even remotely close to Memphis.  

March, 2011: worms rained down on a school in Galashiels, Scotland. Well, this was reported on April 1st. Maybe it was an April Fool’s joke, like that BBC mockumentary about flying penguins. Those wacky Brits! No matter. There have been plenty of other worm falls. April 6, 2007: a rain of spiders was photographed in Argentina by Christian Oneto Gaona. He was climbing San Bernardo Peak in the Salta Province with friends when they noticed that the ground was covered with spiders, all about 4” across. Then they noticed that the spiders were falling from the sky and Gaona took the pictures to prove it.


Okay, that’s where I draw the line.

God, I think that we can both agree that I’ve been willing to put up with a lot from You. But if it ever rains spiders on me, You and I are going to have a serious talk, and this time You’ll be doing most of the listening.

Why do these sadistic whirlwinds hate animals so much? Why don’t they ever pick up something that isn’t alive?

March 8, 1922, Chico, California: rocks, some as big as baseballs, fell from the sky. June 4, 1981: Coins fell in Reddish, England. A Reverend Marshall informed reporters that there were no buildings tall enough from which the coins could have been thrown. Furthermore, some of them were embedded in the concrete along their edges. They must have really been moving. June 16, 1940, Meschera, Russia: a shower of 16th century coins fell on the town. Obviously, these were worth quite a bit of money. A buried treasure exposed by erosion that was then picked up by a tornado was given as the explanation. Naturally. It was just being a good Russian Marxist tornado and redistributing the wealth. 1957, Bourges, France: thousands of 1000 franc notes (about $200 each U.S.) fell from the sky. Chicago, December, 1975: $588 in one dollar bills descended from the heavens. (American whirlwinds are cheap.) September 10, 1910: according to Scientific American, a carved stone eight feet long fell in the Yaqui Valley in Mexico. One scientist who examined it thought that the engravings looked like they were Mayan. It must have been up there a long time.

At least none of these things ever land on people. Let it never be said that whatever is responsible for this would ever allow any harm to come to a human being.

June 7, 1997: A Korean fisherman off the coast of the Falkland Islands was knocked unconscious by a frozen squid that fell from the sky. Kim Ung Ik suffered serious head injuries and was flown by the RAF to Brize Norton near Oxford for treatment. April 27, 1972: the London Times reported that two houses in Barmondsley were pelted with rocks for seven hours. Windows were broken and two boys injured. Police were called early on, but they never saw anyone throwing rocks. Back in Chico, CA, March, 1922: rocks continued to fall periodically throughout the month, sometimes on houses. Several people were hit when they went outside to investigate. Okay, that was kind of their own fault. When rocks the size of baseballs are falling out of the sky, it’s probably best to stay indoors.

For some reason (I’m nuts), it once occurred to me that for a snowman, snow would be like little pieces of flesh falling from the sky. Icky. Thank goodness that never happens.

August 1, 1869, Los Nietos, California: meat and blood fell from a clear sky. It covered a two acre area. The Los Angeles News reported that some of the meat was in strips up to eight inches long and the blood had traces of short fur mixed in with it.

Icky indeed. Thank God it only happened that one time.

July, 1841, Lebanon, TN: a fall of blood, fat and muscle tissue from a red cloud passing overhead. Any guesses as to why it might have been red? August, 1841, Spring Creek, TN: a rain of pieces of flesh. March, 1846, Shanghai, China: a fall of hair and flesh. 1850, Virginia: “several hundred pounds of flesh” fell from the sky.

Probably the most well documented case occurred in Northern California in February of 1869. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, chunks of meat, bones and a substance later identified as nerves fell on San Jose on a clear afternoon, covering approximately five acres. There were a number of witnesses, some of whom were struck by the falling chunks. Pieces were saved and examined by the California Academy of Sciences, but they couldn’t agree on what sort of animal or animals it came from or how it got there.

And of course, I had to save the best for last…or maybe it’s the worst. Depends what you like, really.

In 1876 in rural Kentucky, there was a downpour of meat on the farm of Allan Crouch near the town of Olympia Springs. A reporter for the Louisville Commercial reported that two men with more courage than sense sampled the fallen fare and said that it tasted like venison or mutton. Scientists who examined it concluded that it was probably the latter and hypothesized that it had probably been regurgitated by vultures, although that would have to have been a lot of sheep meat being barfed up by a lot of vultures, a species not generally known for their delicate constitutions.

vultureImagine being one of those two men and being informed that you had most likely eaten buzzard vomit. Most of us wouldn’t poke what those things eat with a stick, much less snack on their puke. I might never eat again just thinking about it. Certainly not corned beef hash. For their sake, I hope that the experts were wrong.

Charles Fort, the legendary aficionado of all things weird, collected hundreds of stories like these. Fort obviously wasn’t worried about offending rationalists or the religious zealots of his time when he suggested that if God was the one heaving these things around, then God might be a mental case. He was probably joking. Then again…

On November 11, 1979, someone or something pelted four houses in Castleton, Derbyshire, England with black pudding, bacon, eggs and tomatoes. Whether or not these items were cooked or raw is not mentioned. Then it happened again a few nights later to the same four houses. The police became involved and they very intelligently began to check around the area to see if there had been any large thefts or purchases of these items. There had not. They put the houses under nightly surveillance, but the peltings continued. No one was ever seen throwing anything. I was unable to discover if anyone saw any of the items flying through the air or if the people in the houses heard them hit. I don’t know if God was the one doing this, but whoever was responsible is clearly a few wontons short of a pupu platter at least.

Earlier I asked you to really think about where those thousands of snakes that fell on Memphis could have come from. That’s at least as good a question as how these things got there in some cases. Who or what is gathering up hundreds or thousands of these creatures and where are they getting them from? Are there aliens up there whose only job is to raise scores of frogs so that they can be dropped on Dubuque? If so, why? Charles Fort’s explanation might be as close to an answer as we can get right now. Or maybe God isn’t crazy, but this planet sure is.

I think I’ll end on that. (Drops microphone; walks off stage.)

and all the devils are here


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