Rain of Blood?

Fantastic in the Everyday

Rain patters against your roof, then taps harder, louder, demanding attention. You peer out your window to catch a glimpse of the encroaching storm and witness red drops pouring from the sky—a rain of blood.

Such an unusual sight might evoke fear, wonder, or disbelief, but for residents of Kerala, India the uncanny red rain phenomenon, sometimes known as “blood rain” occurred frequently enough between July and September of 2001 to become almost commonplace. The rain pouring down during their monsoon season was, at times, a shade of red deep enough to stain clothes. Other tinted downpours of yellow, green, and black also occurred during this time.

As might be guessed, all sorts of theories emerged on the cause of such a strange phenomenon—exploding meteors, desert dusts, even alien matter released onto earth. But analysis of the water and particulate matter it contained revealed no dust, dissolved gases, or pollutants. Instead, scientists found small spherical or oval cells with depressed centers. In a microbiological study, they incubated the spores found in the rain. During the incubation, algae grew from the cells, of a similar sort to that found on trees in the region. As a result, the official report was that the rains resulted from a massive release of algal spores, somehow caught up into the clouds.

Though such rain may seem strange, the residents of Kerala were far from the first to experience it. Throughout history, colored rain—most often red—has been reported in locations as diverse as ancient Rome, medieval Britain, and 19th century America. In earlier eras, the rain was believed to be actual blood, and therefore a bad omen of things to come. With lack of a factual source to alleviate fear, the “blood rains” must have been a terrifying occurrence.

Though the explanation for these rains is rather prosaic (desert dust, algal spores, and the like), the experience remains eerie and unnatural enough to lead many to insist that supernatural or extraterrestrial theories bear the most truth, despite scientific findings otherwise.

Regardless of the actual cause, these rains do prove one thing—that which sounds the most fantastic may, in fact, be a product of our own world.

If you witnessed such a sight, what would your reaction be?

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