TEXARKANA — At least four locations in town reported a free-fall of fish either during or in the aftermath of two storms that blew through here Wednesday afternoon.
Among the places that pelted by fish were Discount Wheel & Tire and Tiger Stadium, both on Summerhill Road on the Texas side of town.
Arkansas-side resident Melissa Curry was the first to call the Gazette to report the strange occurrence. She and her husband were leaving their home Wednesday afternoon when they discovered as many as two dozen small fish scattered around the back yard and side yard of their Victorian home.
“There were every bit of 20 fish out here.,” Curry said. “we were flabbergasted. “
Tim Brigham, manager of Discount Wheel and Tire at 3223 Summerhill Road, said he saw some fish falling during a thunderstorm that popped up Wednesday afternoon.
“It was hailing and looked like there was about to be a tornado,” he said. “And there were fish falling.”
Brigham estimated there were between 25 and 30 fish and some were several inches long. There were at least as many on a lot to the north of his property.
“My grandpa had told me about stuff like this happening sometimes,” he said. “A storm will go over a creek or river and pick up fish.”
After the storm, cleared, around dusk, Brigham had an employee pick those in front of his building up and pile them behind the business so customers wouldn’t accidentally step on them in his parking lot.
A reporter witnessed at least 15 to 20 shiny dead fish in the pile, some 6 to 7 inches long and with a girth of a couple inches or more. When he arrived and opened his car door, maybe an hour after the fact, the air smelled like fish, like the mild scent that hangs outside a fish market or at a fishing dock along a lake.
Simply put, the air smelled fishy.
All of the fish fhad their heads busted open, Brigham said.
Brigham believes the fish, which he called shad, must have been dropped from from pretty high up.
“They were bouncing off the concrete,” he said.
Across the street at McClarty Ford, 3232 Summerhill, an employee told a reporter that the silver fish were all over the parking lot and he actually saw some of them falling from the sky during the storm.
A Gazette reporter on the scene later counted several dozen on one small section of the massive parking lot.
South down Summerhill Road about 1.5 miles from these two businesses, a fish fell on Tiger Stadium at Grim Park, where the Texas High Boys Soccer Team was practicing. Players were disbursed around 4 p.m. because rain was falling and a storm was approaching. Near the sidelines, a player kicked up a fish he found lying there,” said Jackson Haltom, a team member.
“We weren’t looking for fish,” he said, “we were leaving, so there are probably more out there.”
While three of the fall zones were on Summerhill Road, the first report of flying fish — or maybe crashing fish would be more accurate — came from a residential area in the 1800 block of Country Avenue, 2.2 miles to the east on the Arkansas side of town. The drop there seems to have happened earlier in the afternoon.
When this reporter arrived at the address, a dozen or more of the fish were on the ground. Curry said some of them had already been removed because she was afraid her grandchildren would try to eat them.
Still, this reporter saw at least 12 or 15 at the site.
Curry said she believed there might be a few on the roof but she couldn’t be for sure because it was difficult to see up there.
“We had no idea where they came from,” Curry said. “Somebody could be playing a prank but I’ve also heard about things like fish or frogs falling from the sky when it rains.“I’ve heard about it but never seen it.”
A rain of animals have been reported throughout history. One hypothesis is that tornadic waterspouts can pick up creatures such as fish and carry them for a distance. However, this phenomenon has never been witnessed by scientists. Another likely explanation is there is no falling and the animals are driven by winds.
Gary Chatelian, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, Louisiana, said it is uncommon for fish to fall out of the sky but that is does happen.
Fish can be picked up in a water spot or tornadic winds, he said.
“They are picked up with the wind and come down like any debris does. They could have been picked up somewhere like Lake Texoma. They could have come from anywhere. And whatever goes up, must come down,” he said.
The fish in Curry’s yard were about the size of goldfish and were silver. At the two businesses, they were bigger.
Curry said she knew the fish were not at her house Tuesday because her grandchildren spent much of the day outside.
“ They were jumping on the trampoline and we were outside most of the day,” she said.
“We just thought it was really weird,” she said.
None of the neighbors reported fish in their yards, Curry said.
After finding the fish, her husband put on gloves and picked up some of the fish that were in the children’s play area of the back yard. One fish was on the trampoline.
Curry and her husband have lived in the house a number of years and like many old houses, there have been strange noises and occurrences before. But never fish found in the yard.
“I’m open minded,” the woman said. ” Anything can happen.”
She doesn’t mind joking about it either.
“I wish they were catfish,” she laughed.