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Before there was Sharknado, there was an actual 'gater-nado' in South Carolina

Friday, July 2nd 2021, 6:40 am - On this day in weather history, an alligator might have enjoyed a trip in a waterspout.

Listen to The Weather Network's This Day in Weather History podcast on this topic, here.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features stories about people, communities, and events and how weather impacted them.


On Sunday, July 2, 1843, an alligator showed up in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. According to a newspaper clipping from the Time-Picayune in New Orleans, the alligator rained down from above.

The article talks about the weather conditions on that day, and does so with 1843 charm, "Sunday week was a day terrible for its heats in Charleston, S. C.," it reads. "But towards night the oppressiveness of the weather was relieved by a thunderstorm, of which, and a ludicrous incident connected therewith, the Mercury gives the following account."

So in today's less romantic speak, it was hot. The article says "The whole firmament growled thunder and shot lightning...St. Paul's Church was struck, but not seriously injured. Beyond this we have heard of no casualty, unless we may account as such the raining down of an alligator about two feet long."

The article says that the alligator ended up at Wentworth and Anson street, which is around a kilometre away from a body of water.

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Though several people saw the alligator hanging out downtown, the article shares that "We have not been lucky enough to find any one who saw him come downβ€”but the important fact that he was there is incontenstibleβ€”and as he couldn't have got there any other way, it was decided unanimously that he rained down."

The theory is the alligator made it to the downtown area of Charleston via waterspout. The waterspout could have formed over a river or creek, picking up the gator and dropping him off on land.

The paper also shares that "the beast has a look of wonder and bewilderment about him, that showed plainly enough he must have gone through a remarkable experience."

To learn more about the day it rained an alligator, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

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Thumbnail: Courtesy of Pixabay

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