It Just Rained Fish In A Mexican Coastal City


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

No, this wasn't caused by climate change. Proteccion Civil Tamaulipas via Facebook

Are sharknados real? Probably not, and we reckon that’s a good thing. Do you really want a tornado – or tropical cyclone – to lift up these apex predators, dump them on your front lawn, and leave them to be rather confused, scared, and irate? We thought not.

However, it seems that fishnados are indeed real. According to the Associated Press, civil defense officials in northeast Mexico said, rather nonchalantly, that a “light rain” brought with it several small fish that tumbled down from the sky. That’s right: the coastal city of Tampico will now be forever known as the place where a fishnado touched down.


Pictures of the fish have been posted on various social media sites, although admittedly it’s difficult to verify how true the story is, even with a video of the fish laying on the ground emerging from the wilderness of the Web. It could potentially be a prank by some rather bored civil defense officials – but to be honest, science suggests that it's a perfectly plausible phenomenon.


Out to sea, and sometimes on large lakes, you have things called waterspouts, which are powerful whirling columns of air, mist, and water vapor. They’re a bit like smaller, soggy tornados, and come with all the bells and whistles you’d expect – thunderstorms, strong winds, sea surges, and a lot of rain.

When waterspouts form, their energetic cyclonic nature means that they can suck up heavier objects, including fish, from the water body beneath them. So perhaps the tales of Mexican fish rain are true all along.

Tornadoes and waterspouts are powerful enough to pick up a wide range of living creatures, it seems. Here’s a video of a cownado in Kansas, for example. Beef, medium-air, you might say.


There have been multiple reports of frognados too, the first of which dates back to the third century. Athenaeus of Naucratis, a wordsmith by all accounts, included this rather marvelous passage in his surviving tome, Deipnosophistae

“In the Chersonesus [an Ancient Greek colony] it once rained fish uninterruptedly for three days,” he noted, quoting another writer. He then added that “people had often seen it raining fish, and often also raining wheat, and that the same thing had happened with respect to frogs.”

Apparently, it once rained frogs so badly that the “house and the roads had been full of them.” At first, the residents simply “endured the pest,” but after a while, there were so many frogs that they started to boil them up and roast them “with everything they ate.”

Eventually, these people “fled the country.” Let's hope it doesn’t get quite that bad in Mexico.


[H/T: AP via The New York Times]


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