Pat Shingleton: "Frog Ice and Red Rivers..."
On this date in 1882, Dubuque Iowa’s Monthly Weather Review noted that “frog-hail” was recorded following a thunderstorm. Residents reported that melting hailstones disclosed small living frogs while larger chunks of ice also contained living frogs. The ice chunks measured between one and seventeen inches in diameter, varying from an inch to the size of baseballs and the biggest chunk weighed nearly two pounds. The Monthly Weather Review believed that the objects may not have been legitimate hailstones but a cluster of larger stones melted together. In Pontiac, Canada, in 1864, falling ice between an inch and two inches contained small frogs and in a town that no longer exists, Bovington, Mississippi, a six-by-eight inch gopher turtle fell from a thunderstorm, entirely encased in ice. Finalizing today's column with a trip to Madagascar. This coastal, African island, has some of the rarest species in the world where 90% of the wildlife exists nowhere else. When it rains in the community of Antananarivo, erosion turns rivers the color of blood. It occurs because of a process familiar that sugar cane farmers in Louisiana utilized years ago - slash and burn farming. Locals cut trees, burn it slow and sell it as charcoal. However the process also wipes out most of the forests. The process reduces the landscape to bare red earth. Rain hits the surface, thus the red rivers. Conservationists have now protected the remaining land from tourism, while the mining of ilmenite, used to make sunscreen, house paint and dashboards, has revenues of $120 a ton.