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Mystery as it rains hay in parts of Devon

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: June 23, 2014

  • Nick Madigan with some of the hay

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While most were out enjoying the sun at the weekend some residents saw a downpour – of hay.

Huge clumps of dry grass were reported falling from the sky in several parts of the UK as Britain basked in warm sunshine.

Families in Devon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Mid Wales and Lancashire were hit, leaving entire villages to sweep up a thick layer of hay from their cars and lawns.

The bizarre sight was filmed by Nick Madigan, 42, who was covered when he got off the bus near his home in Fiddlers Green in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on Saturday afternoon.

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Nick, a self-employed bathroom fitter, said: "I looked up and I could see all this hay.

"There was no wind, so I assume it was something to do with thermals.

"It was swirling around anti-clockwise and it was quite high in the sky, about the height seagulls fly at.

"The hay must have been picked up from a nearby field and then come down.

"I used to live in Spain and you have what they call 'dust devils' there, but I have never seen anything like this."

Chris Grew, 59, had his outdoor Sunday lunch interupted when huge lumps of hay fell on him and his wife Claire, 47, and daughter Eleanor, 16, near Devizes, Wiltshire.

The electrical engineer said: "It was quite an amazing event.

"I was even more surprised when I came into the office today to hear from colleagues that it only happened in half of the village - there seems to have been a cut-off point half way.

"It really was quite a peculiar thing to see. We were sitting having lunch in the garden when at first we say just a few little bits coming down.

"Soon it was huge great lumps coming down, covering the garden, the cars, and the caravan. It was all over the place."

It seems the dry rain began earlier in the week, with the first report coming from Angeles Wilson who was showered in hay in Paignton, Devon, on Thursday.

She said: "We were having drinks in the Beefeater garden when we saw shaped clumps of hay like material spiralling down from high up in the sky, no wind.

"It's even more mysterious as it happened in two different parts of UK days apart."

The most northern reports of the phenomenon came from surprised people in Lancashire, who saw lumps of hay soaring through the air on Sunday.

Sophie Dee Wright, 20, from Pendle, Lancashire, said she spotted a small tornado before the hay started to rain down.

Sophie Garvey from nearby Burnley added: "I saw grass falling from the sky. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen.

"At first I thought it was a load of feathers until it got closer. Then I saw it was clumps of hay and grass

"How the hell can this happen in three different places in the UK within three days? Weird."

Ben Humphreys from near Builth Wells in Mid Wales took to Twitter to report the odd weather he experienced on Sunday evening.

He wrote: "Sky was full of it for 10 mins or so falling from a very high altitude."

Weather experts said the bizarre raining hay was down to rising hot air and warm plumes of cloud-free air.

Met Office spokeswoman Helen Chivers said: "We've had a couple of weeks of dry weather across much of the country and that has allowed the ground to dry and warm up, and this weather has been ideal for farmers to cut grass for hay etc.

"This grass has been lifted into the air by some means, possibly by convection - where the ground heats the air above it causing the air to rise and carrying the grass aloft - and it is then carried along by warm thermals.

"A thermal is a warm bubble or plume of cloud-free air that rises from the ground as the ground is heated and cools the higher it gets.

"Thermals are used by birds to climb with little effort and by glider pilots to gain extra lift during a flight.

"Because the air eventually cools the thermal will break down and the grass will fall from the sky."

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