No 'Sharknado,' But Freakish Things Happen
Hundreds of angry and likely very dizzy sharks raining down on a city in the wake of a tornado makes for a perfectly serviceable B-movie science fiction plot. It's of course no reason to rethink your shelter come tornado season.
But just because we've eliminated the possibility of a massive storm of the ocean's apex predators from the realm of the plausible doesn't mean that similar, strange events in the weather and the animal kingdom don't occur.
The exploding whale, pre-explosionGetty Images
In 2004, a rotting, 56-foot-long whale in Tainin City, Taiwan exploded while being towed through city streets, creating a grisly scene with shops and vehicles covered in blood and entrails. The 60-ton beast burst because gas in its intestines built up as it decomposed.
A tornado carrying sharks simply isn't possible. But a storm powerful enough to cause fish to rain down from the sky?
Hundreds of fish were caught in the small Australian town of Lajamanu, located on the edge of the desert in the outback, hundreds of miles away from the shore. The fish fell from the sky, according to local residents. Meteorologists suggested that a tornado pulled them into the weather system, where they froze and then dropped miles away.
If raining fish is possible, then frogs falling from the sky shouldn't seem all that far-fetched either.
As with fish, the amphibians can be carried into a strong storm like a tornado and pull into the sky before being dropped onto another location. The Library of Congress attributes such phenomena to tornadic waterspouts, which can reach wind speeds up to 100 miles per hour.
The most recent case occurred in 2010 when a powerful thunderstorm over Rakoczifalva, Hungary, led frogs to rain down from the sky.
These birds fell from the sky and died in Arkansas and Louisiana.Image courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey
In 2011, thousands of birds fell from the sky and died around New Year's Day 2011 in Arkansas and Louisiana, fueling concerns that this seldom-witnessed scene of groups of dead blackbirds had an unnatural underlying cause.
Animal experts, however, assured that such events are natural, though usually occur in the wild away from humans. Such incidents, which have also been documented in bats, frogs, fish, whales and other animals, could be the result of anything from weather to disease to poisoning.
As strange as it is for entire flocks of birds to suddenly fall dead, it's hard to argue that a situation with entire flocks on a rampage is much worse.
In a scene akin to Alfred Hitcock's 1963 horror film "The Birds," students at Plymouth University in Devon, U.K., earlier this year were mobbed by a flock of marauding, violent seagulls that pecked, pooped, scratched and stole. University officials resorted to bringing in a falcon team to scare away the gulls.
A similar, albeit far more eerie episode occurred in 2008 when congresses of ravens attacked and killed sheep in farms across Britain, particularly Scotland and Wales, according to the Telegraph. Ravens, however, are a protected species in the United Kingdom, so there was little farmers could do to the repel them.
Hives of killer bees might not look as frightening on a movie poster as a tornado of sharks, but these aggressive insects can be just as intimidating when you're in their way. The bees are the product of cross-breeding between European and African honeybees and they've successfully invaded the Americas, creeping their way into the United States over the past two decades.
The bees are known as killers not because they're especially venomous. Rather, the large number of individuals within their swarms, and the number that participate in an attack, is enough to overwhelm just about any animal, including humans. Most recently, a swarm of killer bees overwhelmed 62-year-old Larry Goodwin of Texas, stinging him more than 3,000 times and causing his death. Even family members and first responders ended up getting stung trying to help Goodwin.
The Sunshine State sees more precipitation on average that any other state. It also has the largest number of golf courses. Put the two together, and it should come as no surprise that Florida has seen raining golf balls in its history.
In 1969, hundreds of golf balls hailed down on Punta Gorda, Fla., during an intense storm. The cause of the golf ball shower was thought to be a tornado that had passed over a golf course.
Locusts in Madagascar have infested about half of the island.UN.org
One of the 10 plagues of the Bible that periodically revisits the Middle East, Africa, India and Australia, swarms of locusts have the ability to overwhelm crops and fields meant for grazing livestock in no time as each insect eats its own weight in food every day. The largest ever recorded locust swarm contained an estimated 12.5 trillion individuals, according to PBS's Nature, covering hundreds of miles.
A plague of locusts recently overwhelmed Madagascar. Some 500 billion of these insects have been wreaking havoc on half of the island, affecting the livelihoods of 13 million people, according to the the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, most of whom work in agriculture. The plague is the worst the island has seen in more than half a century.
Just one rat can be enough to cause a minor panic under the right circumstances. But swarms of rats can be devastating to crops and, according to isolated reports, dangerous to people.
When bamboo flowers are in bloom in northeastern India, rats take advantange of the increase in the food supply by breeding in larger numbers than unusual, causing their numbers to swell, according to BBC News. About every 50 years, this event isn't limited strictly to bamboo seeds, but often spills over into rice crops, threatening the livlihoods of poor farmers.
Rats typically aren't aggressive toward humans, usually fleeing at the sight of danger. But in Moscow, the Russian newspaper Pravda reported in 2009 that swarms of rats attacked pedestrians in Preobrazhenskaya Square. In South Africa, there were two gruesome reports in 2011 of giant rats, roughly the size of cats, killing infants.