Raining fish in Texas? What’s behind rare animal phenomenon


It was raining fish in Texarkana, city officials say.

Screengrab/The City of Texarkana, Texas

Fish were falling from the sky as storms moved through a Texas town, officials say. Yes, really.

“2021 is pulling out all the tricks… including raining fish in Texarkana today,” the eastern Texas city shared to Facebook on Wednesday, Dec. 29. “And no, this isn’t a joke … While it’s uncommon, it happens, as evidenced in several places in Texarkana today.”

The post garnered hundreds of comments in less than 12 hours, many from residents sharing photos and videos of their fish finds.

“Summerhill Road today right when it happened,” one replied. “A whole lot more too! It was definitely something I would have not believed if I didn’t see it for my own eyes!”

“Close to Texas High School,” shared another. “They were in the front and back yard, the street, and the neighbor’s yard.”

James Audirsch told KTAL what he saw, saying that some of the fish falling at Orr Maxx used car dealership on Summerhill Road were 4-5 inches long.

“There was a loud crack of thunder and when we opened up the bay door, I looked outside and it was raining real hard and a fish hit the ground,” Audirsch recalled, “and then I said, ‘It’s raining fish!’ Brad was like, ‘No it’s not,’ and I’m like, ’No, it really is!’ and fish were droppin’ here and everywhere.”

Tim Brigham, manager of Discount Wheel and Tire on Summerhill Road, said he saw the fish falling from the sky as thunderstorms brought hail through the area, according to the Texarkana Gazette.

“They were bouncing off the concrete,” he told the newspaper.

How was it raining fish?

“‘Animal rain’ is a real weather phenomenon that happens when small animals get swept up in waterspouts or updrafts, and then fall to Earth with raindrops,” according to National Geographic. “Reported rains of bats, fish, snakes, birds, frogs, and jellies stretch back for centuries.”

So, what are waterspouts and updrafts?

Waterspouts are a “whirling column of air and water mist,” according to the National Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration. Tornadic waterspouts can form over water and can occur alongside severe thunderstorms, hail and lightning.

Updrafts describe the air moving upward in a thunderstorm, according to the University of Illinois.

“As waterspouts and updrafts move over land, they lose their swirling energy,” National Geographic reports. “The storm clouds that formed the waterspouts are forced to dump their heavy loads. The heaviest objects are dumped first, and the lightest objects (usually simple raindrops) are dumped last. This explains why reports of animal rain usually describe only one type of animal raining down. A cloud will dump all objects of a similar weight at the same time—fish (heavy), followed by insects (lighter), followed by rain (lightest), for example.”

When have other animals ‘rained’ from the sky?

In 2017, fish fell from the sky in Oroville, California, KDVR reported at the time.

Much further back, in 1873, the Library of Congress says it rained frogs in Kansas City.

“‘Scientific American’ concluded that it must have been caused by a tornado or other land-based storm, since there were no swamps or other bodies of water in the vicinity (Cerveny, 2006),” reports the Library of Congress.

This story was originally published December 30, 2021 11:48 AM.

Kaitlyn Alanis is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter based in Kansas. She is an agricultural communications & journalism alumna of Kansas State University.

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