How 100 fish rained down on an Oroville school remains a mystery

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The sky either opened up and rained down a pile of carp and blue gill on a Northern California elementary school this week, or someone with a bizarre sense of humor played a pretty funny prank on the kids.

The students at Stanford Avenue Elementary School in Oroville looked outside on Tuesday  to find “maybe 100 fish on the playground and the roof” of the school, secretary Diane Habe told KTVU on Friday. The fish landed on school property sometime between 10 a.m. and noon that day, she said.

As for how the silver fish plopped themselves on campus has everyone scratching their heads.

“We have no clue,” Habe said.

“It’s unexplainable,” said Andrew James, the district’s business manager.

Action News, which first reported the story, cited Discovery Science, where experts say the phenomenon occurs when water spouts from a relatively shallow body of water, carrying small fish in its stream. The wind can then carry that spout of water, sometimes for miles.  James noted the school is not too far away from the Oroville Dam, which made news this winter when one of its spillways nearly collapsed because of a deluge of rain water. A fish hatchery is also a half mile away.

A spokesman for the National Weather Service debunked that theory though. “There was no meteorological  evidence that would explain this,” he told KTVU.

The odd sight isn’t unheard of in this area. The Sacramento Bee noted that in 2015, a Folsom couple found several tiny fish dumped on the balcony and roof of their two-story condominium overlooking the American River. A quick Google search shows that people have reported fish falling from the heavens all over the globe.

The elementary school is now on that map. And it's caused droves of people to call the school and find out what happened and spout their theories, Habe said. One of those calls came from a 94-year-old man who said that in his lifetime, he’s seen this happen “more than you think.” 


EDITOR'S NOTE: An original version of this story incorrectly stated that the dam had nearly collapsed.