The weather is one of the most misunderstood areas of natural phenomena that we as humans actually think we understand. Maybe that is why it has come up with some really cool and unique ways to kill you that almost nobody ever stops to think about. Sure death by tornado, hurricane, freezing temperatures or blistering days with high humidity claim a fair amount of victims every year, but there are a few really cool ways the weather can kill you that you never see coming – and of course it’s only cool to the point that you or someone you care about is on the receiving end of nature’s wrath.
An all time favorite merchant of death in weather’s arsenal is ball lightning. Not the usual cloud to cloud, in cloud, or cloud to ground variety of lightning, but cool as all get out big budget Hollywood film looking ball lightning. Ball lightning can best be described as looking like something that shot out of the end of Lord Voldemort’s wand. It is a horizontal streak and then bam! A big old ball of energy!
One of the really cool things about ball lightning is that nobody really believed it existed until the past 50 years or so. People that reported it were thought to be mistaken, or reported they saw a UFO streaking off – or they were just nuts seeing things because that does happen sometimes. As technology advanced, there were instances where ball lightning was caught on film and it is now a known and accepted meteorological phenomena. The odds of dying by ball lightning are really slim as only about 1 in 20 people have even seen it, but that is a cool way to go so far as a unique death.
Raining animals is hardly rare as it happens almost every six months somewhere in the world like clockwork. Usually the animals that are rained down are little critters like frogs, but sometimes they can be larger like fish, or cats and dogs. It has happened. Usually being bonked by a falling frog is not going to take you out of the game although it will likely freak you out and could theoretically cause a heart attack. Larger animals like cats and dogs are usually pretty battered and come down to earth in pink chunks of goo and that generally isn’t enough to kill you either.
What you have to watch out for are the fish. Fish – or anything else – makes it’s way into the sky via a tornado. In the case of fish it’s technically a water spout, but you get the idea. The force of the water spout lifts the fish out of the water in a literal sense, and flings them further upward into the atmosphere. In some cases, the fish wind up going high enough to basically flash freeze. Their rate of descent is so fast though that they don’t thaw out before impact. If you happen to get bonked on the head by a frozen 6lb. catfish, it is going to hurt and does have the potential to kill you. While there is no confirmed death by catfish kill, there are for other fish. In 1894 in Bath, England, it rained jellyfish and that just had to suck.
Initially it was stated death by tornado was a little too common to be included here, but how about death by an invisible tornado? That is an attention getter! A tornado is visible only because it picks up all manner of scattered debris whether it be big or small. When you see a tornado you are not actually seeing wind, you are primarily seeing dirt, dust, and all kinds of tiny condensation type nuclei that has been swept up which defines the shape of the wind pattern.
In some cases there just isn’t much of that stuff to get swept up – primarily in a particularly arid sun baked desert. Just because there is little out there to be picked up to define the wind pattern does not mean tornadoes stop spawning, they come at you just as hard and fast – you just can’t see them. Fortunately you can hear them to some degree still, and if you happen to be in the desert or anywhere for that fact and hear a whistle and see maybe a few small critters or your Toyota being flung around, odds are an invisible tornado is the culprit and not an alien abduction. Take cover in a ditch if possible and ride it out.
Death by megacryometers really kicks some serious butt. Megacryometers is the proper term used to express big ol’ chunk of ice falling from the sky. Most of the time a megacryometer only weighs several pounds which is more than enough to not just kill, but kill in a really ugly way. Sometimes they have been discovered to go as high as 450 pounds which can kill you, the dog, the car, the house, and pretty much everything within about 35 feet of where it impacts.
The best part about megacryometers is that there is no rational scientific explanation for how they form as big as they do, or any pattern as to when they strike or where they strike. There does not need to be a storm associated to them or even a single cloud in the sky. This is true random death from above. You would have absolutely no clue this was even how you died if one hit you. They move too fast and are clear which means you don’t see it coming. You may hear a brief whistle before it cracks your melon open or takes your head off all together and you die, but you’ll never have time to react. Not unless you happen to see someone next to you get bonked and think gee…maybe I should take cover and you start actively looking for them.
A personal all-time favorite is death by heat burst. Heat burst would be a little like Satan rising up and blowing a putrid and very hot fart right in your direction. There is no accepted theory as to how or why heat burst occurs yet. The current best guess – and a guess is really all it is – is that after a storm passes evaporated water and air mix which causes a quick pressure change that compresses air which in turn heats it up. It isn’t a gradual heating though, it is wicked rapid. When air heats it has to expand, and the expansion occurs just as fast.
Once that expansion kicks in you get a big badass wind that will flat knock you out. Wind speeds associated to heat burst are measured like tornadoes. Unlike tornadoes though, there is the heat factor. A sudden blast of heat comes with the deal that can immediately raise the temperature by over 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It hits super fast and passes super fast, but in between it can toss you around like a rag doll and being exposed to a change in temperature that drastic that quickly does nothing good for your body. So far one has never been reported that lasted long enough to actually cook a person, but it really will mess you up.
What is presented in no way is meant to make light of death by meteorological phenomena, just that to an outside observer the way that the weather can kill in creative and unique ways is endlessly amazing. Considering things like ball lightning and heat burst were phenomena written of for years as the ravings of lunatics but are now proved to be true only makes one wonder what will be confirmed next that has been dismissed for decades if not centuries.