Saturday, December 4, 2010

I have heard of the phrase 'raining cats and dogs'. It's an idiom that literally means 'raining very heavily'. Recently, I came across a blog post from the Animal Blog. The blog title read, 'It's raining fish in Australia'. And literally, it DID mean that it WAS raining fish in Australia!
This strange phenomenon occurred in March this year, at a small town called Lajamanu in Australia that was hit by torrential rains.The blog stated:
"The phenomenon is created by whirlwinds over water, which have enough power to lift fish out of the water and even empty the entire contents of a pond."
However, this is not the first time that this has happened in Australia, nor has Australia been the only place where fish have fallen from the sky, neither have fish been the only kinds of animals to have been bombarded from the heavens!
In the past too, natural disturbances have led to animals like frogs, birds, spiders, worms, cows and even alligators being scooped away from their settlements and carried across long distances(ranging thousands of kilometres) and over high altitudes (several thousand feet up in the air), only to be landed on unsuspecting people. This phenomenon, where objects and animals are showered from the sky due to a heavy storm or any other strong atmospheric turbulence is called "farfrotskies". It has taken place since times immemorial.

 It would be so creepy to have animals falling over you in the midst of a heavy downpour and to see the terrestrial (land based) and aquatic(water-based) animals to be suspended in mid-air and then falling in hundreds on the streets.The situation would also be dangerous if the animals were to be large and carnivores(meat eating) like the alligators. So it feels weird when I say, "Thank God it was only the fish that fell in hundreds and not the crocodiles!" (Although I maintain that falling fish was unusual enough, if not dangerous).
Raining animals is still a rare meteorological phenomenon, which the scientists are still researching on. It has inspired scenes from several movies (like "Wonderful World" in 2009 and "Magnolia" in 1999) and novels (like "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams). Not for no reason is it said that reality is stranger than fiction!
Now perhaps I understand why "raining cats and dogs" refers to raining heavily (heavy downpours can lift animals and cause them to 'rain' along). May be that's the reason why other languages also use animals to refer to heavy rains. Take a look at the words used to express heavy rains in the following languages(courtesy:Wikipedia)
  • English: cats and dogs
  • Dutch (Flemish): het regent kattenjongen (kittens)
  • German: junge hunde (young dogs)
  • Polish: pada zabami (frogs)
  • Romanian: ploua cu broaste (frogs)
  • Turkish: kedi kopek yagiyor (cats and dogs)
They are all idioms referring to heavy rains (that require ducking for cover!) metaphorically. But they do have a strong reality quotient! What say?

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