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The Week It Rained Hay In The UK

By James Donahue

Here is something new to add to stories about odd things falling from the sky: Clumps of dry hay and grass fell from a clear sky over at least four counties along the west side of the United Kingdom between June 19 and 22, 2014.

Hay falls were not only reported but photographed in the counties of Devon, in the far Southwest corner of the UK and north in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and as far north as Lancashire. News reports said a thick layer of hay dropped on numerous different towns, but at different times within that four-day period.

Photographer Nick Madigan, 42, filmed the clumps of hay as they were dropping over his head from a blue sky on Saturday afternoon, June 21, in Fiddlers Green, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Madigan said the clumps of hay were swirling in an anti-clockwise direction as they fell from high in the air.

At Devizes, Wiltshire, Chris Grew and his family were enjoying an outdoor Sunday lunch when the hay fell on them. He said the hay fell on about half of the community. He learned the next day that there seemed to have been a "cut-off point" in the middle of town.

"Grew said at first there were just small pieces of hay and grass falling. But then the large clumps of the stuff began dropping

The first reports of falling hay came on Thursday, June 19, in Paignton, Devon, near the southwest part of the country.

The hay was still falling in the Northwest part of England on Sunday. Sophie Dee Wright of Pendle, Lancashire, said she thought she noticed a small tornado before the hay began raining down on her town. And in nearby Burnley, Sophie Garvey said she first thought she was watching feathers falling until the material got closer. Then she said it was grass. "It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen."

Of Course the local meteorologists had to make an attempt at explaining the phenomenon, even though to the best of our knowledge, a hay fall has never before been reported, anywhere.

Helen Chivers, a spokesperson for the local weather office, said the hay, which area farmers had been busy cutting, were picked up by rising heat from the earth and then carried by warm thermals before the thermals cooled and dropped the hay elsewhere.

She said a thermal is a warm bubble or plume of air that rises from the ground in the heat. It cools as it rises.

Soaring birds utilize thermals to gain extra lift while gliding through the air in the summer months. Sometimes birds can soar for long periods of time without ever flapping their wings. This is because they are riding a thermal, Chivers explained.

That seems to be as good an explanation as any.