The East Texas city of Texarkana experienced a rare weather event to close out the year: It rained fish.
The phenomenon, known as “animal rain,” occurred Wednesday in the city, where officials declared in a Facebook post that 2021 “is pulling out all of the tricks…including raining fish.”
“And no, this isn’t a joke,” the post continued.
The city asked residents who witnessed the strange event for their fish photos — some provided them in a lengthy comment thread, along with notes of disbelief — and offered a quick primer on the strange event.
As an article in the Library of Congress explains, scientists believe tornadic waterspouts or updrafts to be responsible for fish and small animal falls that have been observed — but not thoroughly documented — around the planet for centuries.
A tornado could descend toward the water’s surface, sucking up objects and small animals into its vortex and raining them down elsewhere. A powerful thunderstorm’s wind currents could do something similar, another theory proposes.
In Texarkana, James Audirsch said he heard a thunderclap when he and co-worker Brad Pratt opened the car dealership’s doors.
“It was raining real hard and a fish hit the ground,” Audirsch told NBC affiliate KTAL. “I said, ‘it’s raining fish.’ Brad was like, ‘no it’s not.’ I was like, ‘no it really is.’ And fish were dropping, here and everywhere.”
What appeared to be young white bass measuring less than half a foot could be seen scattered around the dealership’s parking lot, the station reported.
Tim Stelloh is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.