'Raining Fish' Explained: Storm Brings in Fish Falling From Sky in Rare Texas Phenomenon

Fish fell from the sky in Texarkana, Texas Wednesday in a rare example of the "animal rain" phenomenon.

Residents of the town near the Texas-Arkansas border took to social media to document the short weather event leaving fish stranded everywhere from residents' yards to public parking lots, KFSM-TV reported.

Over the years, fish, frogs, bats, snakes, birds and more have been reported to fall from the sky.

How do events like these happen?

According to National Geographic, animal rain occurs when small animals get swept up in waterspouts, which form when storm clouds swirl to create a tornado-like column of moving, cloud-filled wind over a body of water. The waterspouts can form over everything from ponds to lakes to oceans.

A Library of Congress report says a common misconception about waterspouts is that they "rise out of the sea," when in reality they form in the air, then come down to the surface of a body of water.

Once a waterspout is considered a "mature storm," it creates a vortex that can suck air, water and objects into the storm.

Updrafts can also sweep up small animals and cause animal rain. According to the Library of Congress, in strong storms, updrafts can exceed 60 miles per hour, which is similar to speeds of moderately intense waterspouts. However, animal rain more commonly happens as a result of waterspouts.

Once the small animals are swept up, the waterspouts and updrafts move over land. As their energy diminishes, the storm clouds have to let go of their heaviest objects first, which would be the animals. This causes the animals to fall back down to Earth. Once the heavier animals have fallen, lighter objects or raindrops usually follow.

Due to the clouds needing to drop objects from heaviest to lightest, communities that report animal rain usually report only one animal falling from the sky, like in Texarkana's case.

According to the Library of Congress, accounts of animals raining from the sky have been told for hundreds of years. Some scientists through the years were skeptical about their existence, as many historical reports of the phenomenon were second-hand or even third-hand accounts.

Some theorized people merely did not realize how many animals lived in their area, choosing to believe animals had fallen from the sky rather than accepting that the animals had always been near their homes.

However, with the rise of the digital age, it has been easier to get more first-hand accounts of animal rain. The residents of Texarkana filmed and photographed their incident of animal rain, with the city even posting a picture to its official Facebook page.

"2021 is pulling out all the tricks... including raining fish in Texarkana today. And no, this isn't a joke," the post said. "While it's uncommon, it happens, as evidenced in several places in Texarkana today. So, show us your fishy pics! And please, for the sake of everyone, let's tiptoe into 2022 as quietly as possible."

fish, dead fish, animal rain
Texarkana, Texas recorded an incident of the rare "animal rain" phenomenon Wednesday when fish fell from the sky. Above, a dead fish in water. Stock Image/Getty Images