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It Rained Fish In Mexico, Officials Say. No, It's Not The End Times (We Think)

Sure, it's been known to rain cats and dogs during some heavy thunderstorms. And if we're to believe The Weather Girls — and who wouldn't? — it was even raining men that one time in 1982.

But fish? That feels like a new one.

Yet during a light rain Tuesday morning in Tampico, Mexico, it appears that's precisely what happened: Several fish fell from the sky, slapping the pavement right in front of a few startled onlookers, at least one of whom recorded some video.

That's according to Pedro Granados, the director of civil protection in Tamaulipas state, who noted the reports and videos his agency had received from local residents.

"Not to say there were a lot of fish — one here, one there," Granados told local media. "It has to be said, they're very small fish, which weigh a few grams. It's strange, not normal."

He also said that, strange as it is, the phenomenon has been documented before — and in this case, the U.S. Library of Congress backs him up, noting that similar reports have cropped up as far back as ancient civilizations.

"Of course, it doesn't 'rain' frogs or fish in the sense that it rains water — no one has ever seen frogs or fish vaporize into the air before a rainfall. However, strong winds, such as those in a tornado or hurricane, are powerful enough to lift animals, people, trees, and houses," the library posting notes. "It is possible that they could suck up a school of fish or frogs and 'rain' them elsewhere."

Mexico is by no means alone in this either, the Library of Congress points out: Apparently, both Kansas City and Dubuque, Iowa, came in for a little amphibian precipitation in the second half of the 19th century, according to residents at the time. And similar reports have surfaced from Louisiana to Serbia and Australia.

In a small Honduran farming town, residents told The New York Times that powerful rainstorms bring fish with such regularity, they've marked them with an annual festival they have celebrated for decades. Many people in the inland town said it's their one chance to eat seafood. Their explanation for the phenomenon:

"It's a miracle," one farmer told the Times. "We see it as a blessing from God."

For Granados, though, the reason for what happened Tuesday in Tampico is far less clear.

"I don't know if it's climate change," he said, "but we've had tornadoes, storms, rains, floods, raining fish, eclipses, earthquakes, all kinds of natural phenomena that we aren't used to, but that we are experiencing these days."

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Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.