Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Raining Cats & Dogs

This is one of my favorite weather phrases...probably because I’m such an animal lover. The term simply implies that it's raining really hard! But where did this funny phrase come from?

No one knows for sure but it's probably been around since at least the 1700's. One reason that the phrase may have come along is that cats and dogs used to live up on roofs, where it was the warmest, and might have been washed from roofs during heavy rain giving the impression that they were falling from the sky. The other reason is that back then flooding would occasionally carry along dead animals implying to some folks that they had fallen from the sky. These are all just theories though. There is no truth to the term "raining cats and dogs", but it has rained other animals!
  • In August 2000, a shower of dead fish rained down on a fishing port in Norfolk, England, after a thunderstorm. The fishy rain was believed to be caused by waterspout which sucked up the fish near the surface of the water and then later threw them on the ground.
  • In June 1997, it rained toads in the town of Villa Angel Flores in Mexico. A small tornado whirled up a cluster of toads from a nearby body of water and then dumped them over the town.
Other small animals such as lizards and birds have "rained" down as well. The creatures are most likely sucked up from bodies of water by tornadoes or waterspouts into thunderstorms and then dumped miles away in heavy rain. Tornadoes will pick up anything in their path (hey...one picked up a cow in the movie Twister)! I must admit that I love a good rain sometimes, but if I ever saw frogs or dead fish falling with the raindrops, I would be grossed out, yet intrigued at the same time!

~ Meteorologist Sonya Stevens