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Is that… HAY falling from the sky?

Jen Bartram
Digital News Editor

Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 17:44 GMT -

Weather watchers across England witnessed a rather unusual form of precipitation at the weekend, as clumps of hay fell out of the sky.

Reports of dry grass falling from great heights came in from Gloucestershire, Devon, Wiltshire, mid Wales and Lancashire over the last few days.

Nick Madigan saw the hay falling in Cheltenham. He told the Gloucestershire Echo: “I looked up and I could see all this hay. It was swirling around anti-clockwise and it was quite high in the sky, about the height seagulls fly at.”

The forecast on Saturday was for a warm day with clear blue skies, with a light breeze – so if it wasn’t the wind that picked up the hay, where did it come from?

The answer lies in heat, not wind. On summer days, the ground is warmed by the sun, which, in turn, heats the air directly above it. A bubble of warm air then rises and can sometimes take things with it, such as hay. This rising column of air is called a thermal. As the warm air rises, it will eventually cool and the hay will fall to the ground again.

This video is an example of a similar event in 2011.

At this time of year, thermals can be responsible for another type of weather phenomenon, the dust devil. Here, particles of dust or sand are sucked up from the surface in a spiral of rotating, warming air, giving birth to a ‘dust devil’, which looks like a small tornado.

Watch a dust devil in action:

Amy Frost was lucky enough to spot a dust devil on Chesil Beach in Dorset yesterday.

Other unusual things have been known to rain down off the back of a thermal. In 2011 in Galashiels, 120 worms fell from the sky onto a school P.E. lesson. And in the same year in Coventry, hundreds of apples descended from the heavens!

So keep your eyes peeled for any thermal-related weather phenomena over the warm summer months and if you manage to capture anything unusual swirling around in the sky, send it to us right here at The Weather Network.

Photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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