Feb 02, 2018 I Brett Tingley

Latest Unexplained Megacryometeor Narrowly Misses Canadian Home

Out of all the anomalous things falling out of the skies lately, one of the most terrifying is perhaps the unexplained giant chunks of ice which have been plummeting to the ground around the world. A pair of the mysterious ice balls fell in California in December and damaged the roofs of two homes, while another one fell in Florida in June 2017 out of a completely cloudless sky. The most recent case of a so-called “megacryometeor” happened in Alliston, Ontario when a six-pound (2.7 kg) ball of ice fell just feet from a home. Luckily nobody was hurt, but the case adds to the growing mystery of these anomalous ice balls which seem to be occurring with increasing frequency lately.

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A Spanish megacryometeor from 2007.

"I had just stepped out the door. I had my towel, my phone to plug it into the hot tub and walking along here I heard this loud crash” says Alliston’s Kate Bearse whose home avoided certain catastrophe last week. “How lucky are we that it fell directly between two houses and not on the sidewalk where the kids were out playing,” she told local news. After hearing the noise, Kate and husband George found a 17-inch (45 centimeter) chunk of ice lying in a shallow dent in the ground. The Bearses called Environment Canada, but the agency is stumped. Environment Canada senior meteorologist David Phillips told CTV Barrie he’s heard of similar megacryometeors, adding “they're very rare, but they're always mystifying.”

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George Bearse shows off the chunk of ice which would have meant certain death for him or his family had they been in its path. (Beatrice Vaisman/ CTV Barrie)

A similar case a few months ago in Scotland when a piece of ice large enough to leave a sizeable crater fell mere yards away from a home with children. While the go-to explanation is that they must have fallen from aircraft overhead, many cases happen in locations far from flight paths, not to mention that accounts of similar so-called megacryometeors predate the invention of aircraft. Transport Canada is looking into this case. Aside from the aircraft theory, it is believed megacryometeors could be some sort of rare meteorological event which occurs under unique and specific atmospheric conditions, but data is scarce due to the rarity and unpredictability of their events and the fact that most samples melt before they can be collected.

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These chunks of ice share some features with hailstones, but are formed under distinctly atmospheric conditions from those associated with causing hailstorms.

Could these megacryometeors be merely yet another symptom of the planet's changing climate, or might there be increased aircraft activity overhead we don't know about? Could these be related to the unexplained booms being heard around the world with terrifying regularity lately? Perhaps they're simply natural weather phenomenon we're only becoming aware of thanks to the information-sharing capabilities of the internet. Or maybe they're just big hailstones. Until more study can be done, these deadly ice missiles remain a mystery. 

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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