The Weirdest Weather Ever

As unpredictable as the weather can be, we generally expect it to fall within a certain range of events. But sometimes, things get downright biblical. We're talking about the weirdest weather phenomenon ever observed. Blood-red rain is only the beginning.

1555 Engraving of raining fish

Blood, Frogs, and Bugnados

Things are about to get weird. We're talking end-of-times weird. But don't worry. These are definitely (probably) not a sign of the apocalypse.

  • Blood Rain. So here's something sort of disconcerting. Blood rain is common enough that it has its own Wikipedia entry. The most recent high-profile example of it came in 2001, when a red shower fell over the Indian state of Kerala. In case you're worried that this is one of the classic Egyptian plagues come back to haunt us, don't. Initial reports were pretty certain that it was just an alien invasion. Later analyses, performed by scientists who weren't stoned, showed that a red algae bloom was responsible for the crimson precipitation.
  • Rain of Frogs (and Birds and Fish). Here's another kind of rain that's probably a bit more common than you'd like to think. The UK seems to be a favorite of airborne amphibians: in 1996, a shower of frogs hit Llandewi, Wales, and in '98, it happened again in London. In 2010, Arkansas was struck by an unfortunate flock of blackbirds, and something similar happened to a flock of Italian doves the very next year. But the strangest has to be Honduras' Lluvia de Peces. Every year, in May or June, the village of Yoro celebrates an annual storm that leaves thousands of fish flopping in the streets. Scientists aren't totally sure what causes these kinds of animal rains (probably because there isn't just one cause), but one theory that seems likely in many cases says tornados and other storms whip up the unlucky animals and deposit them, dead or alive, miles from home.
  • Bugnados. You know, this is probably our personal nightmare. A "bugnado" is, unfortunately, exactly what it sounds like: a whirling column of buzzing midges reaching high into the sky. They don't reach dangerous speeds and won't cause any lasting damage (other than the psychological damage of running through one with your mouth open), but they're still very freaky, if you ask us. They're basically the same thing as dust devils, which are caused by hot spots on the ground pushing the air upward in a vortex. It's just that these devils are full of living creatures.
Perhaps star jelly from Commanster, Belgium.

Star Goop

We'll close out our look at the weirdest weather in the world with a couple of phenomena that may or may not be related and that may or may not have a perfectly logical explanation, but that definitely share a distinctly goopy set of qualities.

First, the blob rain of Oakville. In 1994, a storm passed over the little town in Washington, but instead of raindrops, it left little gelatinous blobs of...something. Resident Sunny Barclift was particularly perplexed, since her farmhouse seemed to be the epicenter of the bizarre event. When she took the rice-sized blobs to the State Department of Ecology, they found they were teeming with cells — but what kind of cells, they couldn't say. One theory that gained some popularity was that they were bits of an unlucky jellyfish, blown up by bombing drills over the ocean. You know what? Even if it's true, that's still super weird.

Or maybe they were the mysterious substance known as star jelly. Stories about the stuff go all the way back to the 14th century, when it was believed that they were left on the ground following a meteor shower. Which isn't true. Nor is it true, like 14th century scholar John of Gaddesdon claimed, that the gelatinous stuff was an effective topical solution for abscesses. But so-called "star jelly" is real — it just might not all be the same stuff. Some examples could be slime molds, which can appear quite suddenly in the grass and have a distinctly alien appearance. Others might be the oviducts of amphibians, which are often regurgitated by predators after a nice meal of fresh frog. Whatever it is, it's definitely gross.

Strangest Weather on Earth: Red Rain

Written by Reuben Westmaas September 17, 2017

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