Sometimes, bizarre weather patterns make us think we all live in The Prince of Egypt. Whether you believe we angered a vengeful God or the planet just does weird stuff, nobody denies these weather phenomena look really odd. They include blood raining from the sky, mysterious jelly in the grass, and of course, extreme temperatures. Have you ever experienced any of these truly strange weather events? We’ve ranked them from the most explainable to the totally weird.
1. A tornado with a rainbow
Tornadoes touch down with destructive ferocity, and that can seem beautiful in its own way. But on March 9, 2017, a ghostly-white tornado touched down with a rainbow for at least a few minutes. The strange weather event took place in Kürnach, about 60 miles east-southeast of Frankfurt. One video even showed a secondary rainbow. While the rainbows do not make tornadoes any less terrifying, they did add some peaceful beauty to the situation.
Next: Another rainbow appeared in a truly strange circumstance.
2. A moonbow looks equally beautiful and rare
Have you ever heard of a moonbow? You may not have, because they appear so rarely. In summer 2016, a Montana photographer caught a moonbow, during a late-night thunderstorm. Moonbows come about as the result of a bright, almost full moon located less than 42 degrees above the horizon illuminating rain in a dark sky. The weather phenomena happen most frequently near waterfalls, because of the water droplets in the air.
Next: Vacationers in this paradise got a shock when this happened.
3. Hail in Hawaii probably surprised surfers
Extreme weather just doesn’t happen all that often in Hawaii, and hail storms even less so. On March 9, 2012, softball-sized hail rained down in Oahu, surprising visitors and residents alike. It shattered the previous state record — and probably a few windshields — held by 1-inch diameter hailstones.
The Western Regional Climate Center’s “Climate of Hawaii” page said thunderstorms get reported somewhere in Hawaii about 20-30 days each year. That rarity means Hawaiians do not really understand how insane they can get, Thunderstorms there come “[infrequently] enough so that many people who have lived only in Hawaii have no real notion of the violence of mainland thunderstorms,” the center reported.
Next: Residents of this area got out their flip-flops for this one.
4. Extreme high temperatures made the Midwest sweat in March
The Upper Midwest broke out shorts and T-shirts for summer-like heat in March 2012, still officially winter. Meteorologists consider that one of the most atypical weather events in recent history. Numerous cities broke all-time March temperature records, some of them on five consecutive days.
It got so warm that some places recorded daily lows that came in warmer than the previous record highs for those dates. Some spots in Michigan even saw temperatures rise above average July highs. By the end of that month, more than 15,000 heat records got shattered: 7,755 record daily highs and 7,517 record-warm daily lows. As a result, March ranked warmer than April in more than 20 cities that year.
Next: Ski resorts rarely complain about the following problem.
5. Sierra Nevada actually got too much snow this year
Two years after California’s Sierra Nevada mountains got so little snow, an April 2015 snow survey recorded bare ground for the first time, the tables totally turned. So much snow fell in early 2017, some resorts had to dig out gondolas and lifts. That year marked the record wettest year in the northern Sierra, topping the notorious El Niño of 1982-1983.
Squaw Valley planned to remain open through July 4 and as long as conditions allowed. Overall, it saw 728 inches, or more than 60 feet of snow during the 2016-17 season. For the uninitiated, that’s a ton of the white stuff.
Next: Have you felt particularly sweaty lately? This may explain why.
6. Temperatures reached a record high for over a year
August 2016 marked the 16th consecutive month global temperatures set records, the longest streak for monthly records since 1880. In addition, Earth’s global temperatures in February 2016 ranked as the warmest on record for any month in NASA’s database, ever.
A record-tying El Niño definitely had something to do with it, meteorologists said. However, warm temperature anomalies appeared in many areas of the globe in 2015 and early 2016, particularly in the Arctic. That points to a broader trend.
Next: This insane storm really had it all.
7. This winter storm dumped a ton of snow and more
One of the most extreme storms in U.S. history, a 1993 mid-March superstorm pummeled the country. It all started with a storm surge — similar to a hurricane — along Florida’s Gulf Coast. As it went along, it created six-foot snow drifts in Alabama, up to six inches in Florida, 14-foot drifts in Virginia, and closed all major East Coast airports. The storm took a huge toll on the country too, with 270 killed in 13 states. It left 3 million without power and caused $5.5 billion in damages.
Next: These odd storms make residents question whether they really know how rain works.
8. Tropical storms can occur on dry land, too
Hurricanes usually form over water, but they can appear on dry land, too. Recent studies revealed a “brown ocean effect,” in which warm, moist soil can actually substitute for warm ocean water. The results can be terrifying.
In August 2007, Texas saw this happen when Tropical Storm Erin made landfall as a weak storm. It then made its way inland and strengthened over central Oklahoma, growing more powerful than it had been in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm blew through Oklahoma with wind gusts of more than 80 mph.
Next: We’ve all seen lightning strike, but this one takes the cake.
9. Lightning can actually strike in a ball
The electrical charge that causes lightning usually results in a bolt that travels earthward, but not always. Ball lightning, on the other hand, involves lightning that forms into a ball immediately after a normal bolt strikes. After the terrifying ball materializes, it can actually skip across the ground, burning through whatever it touches. Most reports say it only lasts a couple of seconds, and the weird weather phenomena are very rare. A group of Chinese scientists captured this phenomenon on camera for the first time back in 2012, as a result of pure “luck” — or lack thereof.
Next: Can blood really rain from the sky? Let’s find out.
10. Blood rain looks as gory as it sounds
When residents in Zamora, Spain saw what looked like blood raining from the sky, some understandably freaked. While lore has recorded blood rain for centuries, this time, a resident collected a sample and sent it to the University of Salamanca for analysis. The researchers found a freshwater green microalgae that creates a red pigment actually caused the color. That matches up with previous incidents of blood rain, one of which found a similar algae caused it in Kerala in India. If you do see this creepy rain, don’t panic. Scientists say the algae do not harm humans, and often get used to color food. So go ahead — drink up!
Next: If you hate bugs, you might want to skip this one.
11. Bugnado is exactly what it sounds like
Believe it or not, bugs can actually turn into a swirling cyclone, fulfilling many of our worst nightmares. A “bugnado” does not reach dangerous speeds and will not cause any lasting damage, other than seriously freaking you out. The weather event comes about in pretty much the same way as dust devils, after hot spots on the ground push air upwards in a vortex. These just get filled with bugs instead of dust.
Next: This strange rain may have inspired Dr. Seuss’s Oobleck.
12. It can rain weird goop, in some circumstances
If you read Dr. Seuss’s “Bartholemew and the Oobleck” as a kid, this one might not surprise you. In 1994, it rained in a small town in Washington. But instead of water, the blob rain of Oakville left little, rice-sized blobs of goopy stuff. The State Department of Ecology discovered they contained lots of little cells, but they could not tell what those cells came from. A popular theory emerged that the blobs actually originated as a jellyfish blown up by bombing over the ocean. That’s less mysterious, but pretty gross.
Next: These clouds look really freaky.
13. Roll clouds, roll
We’ve all laid out in the grass and looked at cloud shapes, right? You probably never saw a roll cloud, one of those bizarre weather events that also happen to occur rarely. These low, tube-shaped clouds appear to slowly roll along a horizontal axis. A particularly rare category called the Morning Glory can grow up to 1,000 kilometers long, 2 kilometers high, and moving at speeds of up to 60 kmh, but just 100-200 meters above the ground. They only form regularly on the Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia. The clouds pose no threat, just look strange in the sky.
Next: If you see one of these in your garden, do not panic.
14. Star jelly does not actually come from aliens — probably
The appearance of what some have dubbed “star jelly” happens mostly in the United Kingdom, and involves large chunks of gelatinous substance appearing in grass, gardens, and even trees. The most mysterious mention appeared in a 1979 article in Fate Magazine. They wrote the substance “consisted of extra terrestrial cellular organic matter which exists as presetellar molecular clouds.” In other words, they thought it came from cosmic objects.
More recently, scientists say it actually spawns as the remains of frog reproduction. Tony Whitehead, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds public affairs officer explained, “the spawn is held in a substance known as glycoprotein which is stored in the female’s body … If an animal is attacked by a predator it will quite naturally drop its spawn and the associated glycoprotein.” Either way, you do not want to step in this stuff.
Next: This bizarre “rain” might make you want to stay inside forever.
15. It can really rain frogs, fish, and other species
Waterspouts — or tornadoes that pass over bodies of water — pick up whatever lies in their path, just like those over land. In Kansas City in 1873, it actually rained frogs. Scientific American said that it must have been caused by that weather phenomenon. Similarly, when it hailed frogs in Dubuque, Iowa on June 16, 1882, scientists figured out an answer to that, too. Small frogs must have gotten picked up by a powerful updraft and frozen into hail in the cold air above the earth’s surface, then rained down on horrified citizens below.
Professor Ernest Agee from Purdue University says, “I’ve seen small ponds literally emptied of their water by a passing tornado,” said Purdue University Professor Ernest Agee. “So, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for frogs (or other living things) to ‘rain’ from the skies.”
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