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No. 59: Sep-Oct 1988

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Fish And Winkle Showers

"Loud slapping sounds disturbed Ron Langton as he settled down to watch late-night television at his home in East Ham in London on 26 May 1984. He thought nothing more of the noises until next morning when he went outside and saw half a dozen fish in the backyard and on his roof. They were flounders and whitings, about 10 to 15 centimetres long.

"Two residents of nearby Canning Town also reported between 30 and 40 fish scattered over their gardens. Could a flight of herons returning from the Thames have dropped their catch? The Natural History Museum identified the fish as just what you would expect to find in the lower Thames. Could a waterspout on the Thames have lifted the fish up to cloud level, carried them a few kilometres north, and dropped them on Canning Town and East Ham?

.....

"On 16 June 1984, a month after the fish falls in London, the owner of a service station near Thirsk in north Yorkshire found winkles and starfish covering the forecourt of his garage and the top of its high canopy. The winkles were salty and many were still alive. Thirsk is 45 kilometres from the sea, and the garage owner thought that this collection of marine life arrived with the torrential thunderstorms during the night. Though proof remains elusive, the winkles and starfish were probably lifted by a waterspout along the east coast and carried aloft for an hour or more within the powerful updrafts of the thunderstorms."

Several more anecdotes of a similar nature can be found in this article. (Elsom, Derek; "Catch a Falling Frog," New Scientist, 1988.)

Reference. Falls of fish and other anomalous material are cataloged in GWF10 in Tornados, Dark Days. For information on this catalog, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #59, SEP-OCT 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss