On June 28, residents in Kannur, India awoke to a startling downpour. For fifteen minutes, rain poured from the sky. But this rain was different than normal rain. It was red rain or blood rain. Where did it come from?
Background on Red Rain
We first explored the concept of “red rain” or “blood rain” back in August 2011. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Clouds open up and red rain pours from the sky. Sometimes other colors are seen, such as yellow, green, or black. In this most recent storm, some people saw red rain while at least one person saw collected samples of something that was “as dark as black coffee and had the smell of raw beetroot.”
- “I thought someone killed some animal and its blood got mixed with water on the courtyard.” ~ Shaija M, Kannur block panchayat president
Red rain is a rare phenomenon, but it’s occurred numerous times in the past.
- “Ancient texts describe similar events throughout known history. For example, Homer’s Iliad states that Zeus caused blood to rain from the sky on two separate occasions. In 582 AD, Gregory of Tours reported on a rain of blood that caused Paris citizens to frantically disrobe themselves. And there were reports of blood rainstorms prior to the arrival of the Black Death.” ~ David Meyer, The Mysterious Rain of Blood
What Causes Red Rain?
Back in 2001, red rain felt sporadically throughout the Indian state of Kerala for two full months (Kannur is located within Kerala). After studying the raindrops, researchers decided that the red coloring was due to solid particles captured within the raindrops. These particles included various elements and metals. The exact source of those things remains an unsolved mystery. Here some some possibilities:
- Spores of Lichen: Some researchers think the reddish hue is provided by lichen spores. In fact, the 2001 particles were even declared “morphologically similar” to algae and fungal spores. Supposedly, heavy rains cause increased growth of the lichens. These lichens release their spores simultaneously, leading to a build-up in the atmosphere where they mix with the rain. However, this is now considered somewhat improbable, partially because it doesn’t explain how the spores got into the atmosphere in the first place.
- Atmospheric Pollution: According to local meteorologist M Santhosh, this most recent red rain might’ve been caused by atmospheric pollution. He was quoted as saying, “I assume this is due to atmospheric pollution. The pollutants in the air get dissolved in rainwater resulting in red rain.”
- Transplanted Sand: In 1903, dust from the Sahara desert was sucked into the sky and deposited onto England during a series of rainstorms. Some researchers initially thought red rain occurred due to similar means, with dust rising from the Arabian deserts. However, lab tests ultimately debunked this theory after the 2001 storms.
- Volcanic Eruption: Volcanic eruptions can load the atmosphere with dust and other materials. Presumably, these could mix with rain. However, the 2001 storm seemed to disprove this theory since the rain contained particles “morphologically similar” to spores rather than dust.
- Outer Space: Many historical incidences of red rain can be tied to meteors or comets. According to this theory, a meteor might’ve exploded in the sky. Its material mixed with the clouds and drifted to the ground as rain. The 2001 red rain contained biological matter. If this came from outer space, it would appear to support the panspermia hypothesis. However, this doesn’t explain why Kerala has now been struck multiple times by the same phenomenon.
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
It will probably take a few weeks for scientists to examine the Kannur samples. In addition, it will be interesting to see if the current red rain continues for an extended period like 2001 or whether it’s a one-time event.
Back in 2001, no one really disputed the contention that the raindrop particles were similar in shape and form to lichen spores. And yet, the mechanism by which those spores could’ve reached the atmosphere and stayed in the same area for over two months remains unknown.
When we first examined the 2001 storms, we found the meteor or comet theory particularly interesting. It explained crashing sounds and flashing lights that preceded the red rain. In addition, NASA’s discovery of glycine in Comet Wild-2 indicated organic material could’ve survived the extreme conditions found in outer space.
However, we find it curious this particular area of India has received another red rain storm. It hints at a regional explanation, such as the lichen spores or perhaps atmospheric pollution. Hopefully, we’ll have some answers in a few weeks.
“The source of Kerala’s mysterious blood rain continues to elude the world’s finest minds. However, the recent research, coupled with the NASA discovery, indicates that we might be closing in on an answer. Perhaps Kerala’s blood rain was nothing more than a freak infusion of localized lichen spores into the sky. On the other hand, maybe the rain came from somewhere else…somewhere beyond this world.” ~ David Meyer, The Mysterious Rain of Blood
Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of “Blood Rain”
- 8/2/11: The Mysterious Rain of Blood
- 7/7/12: The Red Rain Phenomenon Returns?