1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email
The Ice is Falling! The Ice is Falling!
For the past month, mysterious falls of large chunks of ice have rained down on Italy and Spain. But these are just the latest instances of a phenomenon that has occurred at least for centuries.

On the evening of January 27, priests at the Salesian monastery in L'Aquila, Italy were startled by a loud crash. Investigating the noise, they discovered a large chunk of ice on their patio, largely intact. Determining that it could not have slipped off their roof and at a loss to explain just where it came from, they called the police. Upon examination, the block of ice weighed in at 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) and no source was determined.

On the same day, about 100 miles northeast in Ancona, Itlay, the local magistrate was called to investigate the report of a man who was struck on the head by a 1 kilogram (2.2 pound) chunk of ice that apparently fell from the sky.

Meanwhile, about 100 miles southeast of L'Aquila, another similar mysterious block of ice fell in Avellino, Italy.

And as if these occurrences weren't odd enough, they follow a very similar wave of unexplained ice falls that took place in Spain earlier in January. Although officials tried to explain away the ice as falling from airplanes or as the result of weird weather, chemical analysis of the ice has been unable to prove anything definitively.

The Rain (of Ice) in Spain
Within a 10-day period beginning on January 8, more than a dozen large chunks of ice fell in various locations around Spain - some reportedly as big as basketballs and weighing as much as 9 pounds!

An Ice Day in the Park


Spain and Italy aren't the only European countries to get pelted with huge ice blocks in January. On January 2 in Surrey, England (southwest of London), an East Indian man was walking through Newton Athletic Park when he heard a strange whistling sound overhead. Seconds later, a large hunk of ice fell out of the clear blue sky and pounded into the soft ground, shattering over a 50-foot-wide area. The ice dug a hole a foot deep and a foot in diameter. Even the shattered remains of the mystery ice were as large as tennis balls (see photo above) and were described as opaque with no unusual color or smell.

The phenomenon hasn't been just puzzling to scientists, it's been downright dangerous to citizens. Juana Sanchez Sanchez, a 70-year-old woman in Almeria, southern Spain, was knocked unconscious when she was struck in the shoulder by a falling ice chunk as she walked in a street near her home. On January 12, just about 200 miles away in Seville, a man narrowly escaped serious injury when a 9-pound ball of ice smashed into his car.

The Scientific Analysis
Although eyewitnesses to the phenomenon report that they did not see anything in the sky that could account for the ice, investigating scientists had to come up with a rationalization. The first explanation they offered was that it might be frozen waste jettisoned from overflying aircraft. Analysis of the ice in both Spain and Italy concluded, however, that the ice lacked the coloring and microorganisms that would be present in jet waste.

Pranksters were responsible for some of the iceballs recovered in both countries. This ice, thrown into the streets by youths and in one case by a grocery store owner after hearing of the genuine ice falls, was easily identified for what it was and discounted.

In Italy, scientific analysis of the mystery ice from Avellino "has proven that the block consists of a liquid similar to distilled water; in other words, lacking any mineral salts whatsoever, and with traces of ammonia and nitrates."

Professor Jesus Martinez Frias, the geologist investigating the ice falls in Spain, told BBC News, "The most surprised person of all by this phenomenon is me." His preliminary examination of the ice revealed that it appeared to be nearly 100 percent frozen water. After further analysis, Martinez told a packed news conference that the ice pieces had probably been formed through sudden temperature drops in the stratosphere. This was the most likely explanation, he said, for the "very unusual" phenomenon, and that similar cases had been reported in China and Brazil in 1995 where blocks as heavy as 440 pounds crashed to Earth. 

Another Spanish scientist, Professor Fernando Lopez from Madrid's Autonomous University, questioned these conclusions. He could not rationalize how such large chucks of ice could be formed in the stratosphere where there is very little moisture. And even if they could form there, how could a block weighing as much as 9 pounds remain suspended long enough to grow that large?

Next page > Incredible Ice Falls in History; Possible Explanations > Page 1, 2


Have You Had a Paranormal Experience?
Send me your true tales of strange, unexplained, and paranormal experiences. E-mail them to me for inclusion in a future article or story archives. Or post your stories and comments about this article on the Paranormal Phenomena Forum.

Subscribe to the Newsletter
Name
Email


Previous Features

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

See More About

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.