1804, August: Young Frogs Shower Down from Strange Cloud

On a fine and cloudless day in August, 1804, a man named Pontus, who was a professor in Cahors, France, was in a carriage traveling between the towns of Albi and Toulouse when he encountered a remarkable weather event. About 4:00 PM Pontus' coach stopped three miles outside of Toulouse to change horses; when Pontus and his companions returned to the coach, a very thick cloud suddenly covered the horizon, and peals of thunder were to be heard. The drops of water that started to hit Pontus and the others were very large; from this Pontus' implied that the cloud was at a very great height. The cloud burst on the road about 60 yards from where they were. Two riders coming from Toulouse caught in this downpour were pulling up their coats to protect themselves when they both realized that it was a downpour of toads!

        When the riders came up to Pontus and the others, they stopped to tell them what was happening ahead; and as proof of their words, pontus could see the small toads falling off the men's coats as they shakily told the news. Pontus and the others immediately headed to the spot in the road to investigate. The main road and all the fields to the left and right were strewn with toads from an inch to two inches in size. These sizes suggested to Pontus that none of them were over the age of just one or two months. The toads were so thick that Pontus counted up to three or four layers of them, and the horses' feet, and wheels of the carriage crushed thousands of them. At a trot, the coach continued down the road for fifteen minutes before leaving the area covered by toads.

About the Source

        It needs to be noted that the earliest I know of this event being put in print is as a letter from Mr. Pontus to a Mr. Arago that was published in the weekly reports of the Academy of Sciences of France in 1836, a full 32 years after the event. How much this gap effected Pontus' memory of the event I cannot say. I will continue to dig for sources closer to the date of occurrence.

        By the way, the "Mr. Arago" referred to here is possibly François Arago [1786-1853], who became well-known later for a catalogue of meteorites and an interest in strange skyfalls... and this also may or may not be the same M. Arago who reported his own encounter with strange rain, a story available at the 'See Also' link below.

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