1882, June 16: Living Frogs Found in Hailstones

The Legend:

On June 16, 1882, the foreman of the 'Novelty Iron Works' in Dubuque, Iowa, found small living frogs in the centers of some hail-stones he melted.

The Rest of the Story

        As it turns out, the event above was actually reported... but it is only a small part of the full story. The complete incident, as described in the Monthly Weather Review of June 1882, was that on the 16th of June, 1882, Dubuque, Iowa, was hit by "the largest and most destructive hail-stones." Several other hail-stone storms had been reported across the states during a short period of days... Iowa received the worst of it, with a thirteen minute shower of hailstones that measured from one to seventeen inches in circumference. The largest single hailstone from this fall weighed one pound and twelve ounces!

        The report continues to say that Washington Park was literally covered with lemon sized hailstones, and large basketfulls of these could be gathered easily and quickly due to the abundance of them. The hailstones displayed a number of unusual characteristics; some had knobs and/or icicles half an inch in length on them -- possibly due to smaller hailstones being absorbed by larger ones -- and some had rings of different colored ice, with gravel and blades of grass embedded in them. With these strange examples noted, the frogs found in the two hailstones melted by the iron works foreman are then mentioned. In total, damages caused by this rain of ice balls was estimated at $5000 for the town, not an insubstantial amount at the time.

        While finding the frogs was unusual, the overall evidence suggests that many different materials found their way into the hailstones... gravel and grass, remember... that was probably initially gathered into the air somewhere else. Frankly, I would not want to be caught in a hail storm like this one!

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