Fish Fall From Sky
During Thunderstorm

By Karen Nelson and Mary Louise Mason
Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald
OCEAN SPRINGS - Something fishy happened during the hailstorm that pounded the city Tuesday evening.
Gulf Islands National Seashore Ranger Melissa Perez and volunteer Adam Wilson were pelted briefly with small, very cold fish while on the park's pier.
It was around 6 p.m. Tuesday when the storm had eased briefly. The two ran out to try and locate minnow traps that had been left on the pier.
The traps were gone, but while Perez and Wilson were looking, something began falling into the water near them causing splashes. Then two icy cold fish hit the deck of the pier and one hit Perez's hat.
"I was pretty upset that I had lost those traps, when fish fell from the sky," Perez said.
"We went for cover. One was incredibly cold and one of them actually was icy," she said. Fellow workers told her it was a rare phenomenon.
"But sure enough, it happened here," she said.
Perez didn't know how many fell into the water; the event took her by surprise. But it all happened in an area that had roughly a 20-foot diameter.
The fish that hit the deck were small, about 3 inches long, and she said that she didn't immediately recognize the species.
"The weather was so bad that we threw them off and ran for cover," she said.
Todd Adams, assistant coordinator of educational programs at J.S. Scott Marine Education Center, has a degree in physical geography and a master's in geo-science.
He ventured two possibilities: The storm could have pulled the small fish into the thundercloud where they were coated with ice until they got heavy enough to fall from the cloud or the storm could have sucked them off a fishing boat and dropped them at the park.
"Obviously there was hail," Adams said. "And a water spout will pull up and throw all types of things."
Adams, like other motorists Tuesday in Ocean Springs, experienced the storm along U.S. 90. He said the wind was blowing in one direction and then another, in a vortex action.
Debbie Anglin, another Ocean Springs resident, said she waited out what she thought was the worst of the storm at a church downtown. She left and encountered hail on Government Street near the high school at around 6 p.m., about the time the fish were falling a couple of miles east.
She said motorists were pulling over at Oak Park Elementary and at a service station on Halstead Road, where there was protection.
"I went creeping along," she said. "The hail that hit me was bigger than marbles, bouncing off the hood and hitting the windshield."
She said it sounded like rocks hitting her car.
Police Chief Kerry Belk said his department on Wednesday assessed and repaired damaged to its phone system, which was struck by lightning during the storm and went out for several minutes on Tuesday.
An awning from The 19th Hole driving range on U.S. 90 blew off and hit a mobile home in an RV park next door, he said, and there was flash flooding in several neighborhoods, including Woodhaven.
"It was a very bad storm and a very dangerous storm," Belk said. "We're thankful that there wasn't more damage throughout the city."



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