While lacking the life-threatening qualities associated with the SyFy Channel's "Sharknado" franchise, this past weekend's "earthworm storm" over parts of Norway couldn't have been a pleasant experience.
A biologist skiing in the mountains outside the coastal city of Bergen was the first to notice the odd phenomenon after discovering thousands of earthworms on top of snow more than three feet thick.
"When I found them on the snow they seemed to be dead, but when I put them in my hand, I found that they were alive," Karstein Erstad told The Local.
Erstad's discovery corroborated a string of reports across southern Norway of localized "worm rainfall." The current theory is that a warm, high-velocity pocket of air swept up the worms as they were emerging from winter hibernation and carried them up into the mountains.
According to the Library of Congress, updrafts in thunderstorms can reach speeds of more than 60 miles per hour — comparable to the winds of moderate-intensity waterspouts. That's enough force to pick up earthworms, not to mention frogs, snakes, spiders, and all sorts of lightweight species.
"It is certainly within the realm of possibility that fish and frogs could rain from the sky,” Greg Carbin, a severe weather expert with the National Weather Service, told Modern Farmer. "Especially when you look at the power of some thunderstorms and tornados, there’s a tremendous vertical component to the wind that can suck things up and deposit them far from where they were picked up."
This is all to say that if you plan on traveling to Norway any time soon, make sure you pack a strong umbrella.
Related on MNN: