1958, April 11: Shower of Ice in Napa, California

In 1959, Frank Edwards -- radio host and author on strange matters -- shared a report of a strange incident in Napa, California, USA... and since I personally live about twenty miles away from Napa, I've always been a bit curious about this one. Here's Edwards' report:

"In the middle of April, 1958, a shower of ice came rattling down into the yard of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Kozlowski in Napa, California; big, jagged pieces of ice that were from 2 to 12 inches in diameter. Some of them buried half their length in the earth. No planes were in the area...."

        Now then: Frank Edwards' books are interesting and fun... and generally full of mistakes, so you usually can't take him at face value. But Edwards was also a contributor and fan of FATE, an American magazine devoted to 'true' paranormal stories, and he often borrowed from the magazine for his radio show and books. So I did a brief survey of the magazine between April 1958 and Dec 1959, and found Edwards' likely starting point.

        In the August 1958 issue of FATE, in a section that offers summaries of newspaper articles sent by readers, editor Curtis Fuller described the contents of an article he'd received that came from the Napa Register, newspaper of Napa, California.

        As Fuller describes the incident, the Kozlowski's had been shopping and returned home just before noon. A short time later, Mrs. Kozlowski looked out of her kitchen window and discovered the lawn was covered with pieces of ice, 2 to 12 inches in diameter, and some had "made deep impressions where they struck"... not sunk into the ground, as Edwards had claimed. Fuller also mentions that Sheriff John Claussen stated the weather had been clear that day, and he suggested that the ice might have fallen from a high-flying airplane -- which doesn't match up to Edwards' claim there were no planes in the area. So Frank Edwards changed the story going from FATE to his book.

        Now then (yes, again!): Curtis Fuller edited the "I See by the Papers..." section of FATE Magazine for literally decades; and I've checked stories he's presented a lot. And -- not unlike Frank Edwards -- Fuller had a tendency to change stories by either leaving out or adding small details; after all, he worked for a magazine that presented paranormal stories, so he had to be sure what he presented in his section fit in. Therefore I double-checked Fuller's report of the matter also.

        I tracked down the original story in the Napa Journal (which is related to the Napa Register), for April 17, 1958. According to the newspaper, on Friday, April 11, only seconds after Mrs. Kozlowski and her husband had arrived home from shopping, she glanced out of her kitchen window to see "large jagged pieces" of ice, from 2 to 12 inches in diameter, lying on the lawn (not embedded). The Kozlowski's called Sheriff John Claussen, who said it was possible the ice had fallen from a high-flying plane. The paper then also observed that "similar incidents have occurred in other places in the Bay Area recently."

        So there you go. While we still don't know for sure where the ice came from, we do know now that it took two different people to change the ice from just lying on the lawn, to denting the lawn, then to sinking into the lawn... the last of which sounds more dangerous and exciting.

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