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

Randi MannDigital Reporter

On this day in weather history, an alligator might have enjoyed a trip in a waterspout.

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


On Sunday, July 2, 1843, an alligator showed up in downtown Charleston, S.C. 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 down—but the important fact that he was there is incontenstible—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."

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Thumbnail: Courtesy of Pixabay