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A most unusual rainstorm

The Blobs That Fell from the Sky

In 1994, an unusual rainstorm rained down on the city of Oakville, Washington.

The ‘blob rain’ reportedly came down in torrents, and covered as much as twenty square miles. Anyone within the vicinity of this strange rain came down with severe flu-like symptoms.

A police officer, David Lacey, was on patrol with a civilian friend when the blobs began raining down at around 3 in the morning.

“We turned our windshield wipers on and it just started smearing to the point where we could almost not see. And we both looked at each other and we said, ‘Jeez, this isn’t right.’ I mean, we’re out in the middle of nowhere, basically, and where did this come from?”

Even after Officer Lacey pulled into a gas station to clear up his windshield, he further noted the bizarre consistency of this goo:

“The substance was very mushy. It’s almost like if you had Jell-O in your hand and you could pretty much squish it through your fingers. We did have some bells go off in our heads that basically said that this isn’t right, this isn’t normal.”

Even after Officer Lacey pulled into a gas station to clear up his windshield, he further noted the bizarre consistency of this goo:

Meanwhile, ‘the blobs’ fell from the sky elsewhere, roughly half the size of grains of rice, at the farm home of Sunny Barclift. Shortly afterward, Barclift’s mother, Dotty Hearn, was hospitalized for dizziness and nausea. Barclift herself, as well as a friend, also experienced minor episodes of fatigue and nausea after handling the blobs themselves. Despite this, the doctor who treated Barclift’s mother, Dr. David Little, expressed his doubt that these blobs were the cause for the symptoms, instead, they could have resulted from an inner ear condition. Hearn herself conceded that the timing of the blobs’ appearance and their symptoms could be nothing more than a coincidence. Also, in addition to the coincidental symptoms experienced by the humans involved, a kitten Barclift had, reportedly died after coming into contact with one of these blobs, this following a battle of severe intestinal problems before the incident. The blobs were reported to have fallen from the sky several more time, though reports of any strange symptoms or deaths vary between confirmed or not between sources.

Overall, the blobs rained down on Oakville six times in three weeks. According to some sources, dozens of people got sick. Moreover, several dogs and cats died after coming in contact with it.

What was it?

In one attempt to identify the substance, the blobs were reported to contain human white blood cells. Upon further investigation by the Washington State Department of Ecology’s hazardous material spill response unit, these cells from the blobs were also found to have no nuclei.

Determined to find answers, nearly a year after her mother’s illness, Barclift took a sample of the blob she had stored in her freezer to a private research lab. There, a microbiologist named Tim Davis with Amtest Laboratories studied the sample.

“I saw what I think was a eukaryotic cell, which is, basically, a cell that has a definable nucleus, and is found present in most animals.”

Theories

Speculation arose not long afterward on what the blobs were. One popular theory suggests that the blobs were the result of bombing runs done by the nearby military in the ocean 50 miles (80 km) from the farm, which could have caused an explosion within a group of jellyfish that then got dispersed into a rain cloud.

Even though the Air Force confirmed that bombing runs had been performed over the Pacific during that time, they denied any knowledge of the unknown substance or any involvement in creating or dispersing it.

Although not many people believe this particular theory as the answer, it nonetheless became so popular within the community that it prompted the discussion of holding a “jellyfish festival”, even leading to the concoction of a new in drink in honor of the strange incident; the drink in question, dubbed “The Jellyfish”, comprised of vodka, gelatin, and juice.

A second theory proposed by Dr. Little, was that the blobs were the result of drops of concentrated fluid waste from a passing airplane toilet, though when contacted about this matter later, the FAA rebuffed it, adding that all fluid waste from commercial plane toilets are dyed blue, a characteristic none of the blobs had.

According to one website, which disputed the facts presented by Unsolved Mysteries three years after the incident, Barclift herself contacted the site to give her account on what happened.

It is my understanding that after the fallout several people in the community did come down with a flu-like illness that lasted for 4–8 weeks in some cases. A couple that stick out in my mind were two individuals who had complications associated with kidney infection or kidney involvement, which I think is somewhat unusual. I did not go door to door and interview people as to the state of their health. Mostly the information gleaned was during casual conversations and over-hearing statements made by others. ​I have no idea about what each person’s personal diagnosis was.

Communally it was thought to be something like the flu. Some individuals, such as my mother Dotty Hearn and David Lacey, the police officer had more acute symptoms. When my mother first found the substance, on top of a box on the porch where she stored her wood for burning, she touched the substance with her bare hands. Although David Lacey said he wore gloves he too became very ill within hours of contact with the substance.

Initially my mother was treated for Meniere’s Disease (a disorder of the inner ear). She had extreme vertigo, dizziness and felt the room was spinning. Those are all symptoms of that disease. However she also had a fever and other symptoms of infection. She spent 4 days in the hospital. Upon her release I asked Dr. Little what her discharge diagnosis was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know. Some type of virus.” She did have a complete recovery after she arrived home and over time. Meniere’s Disease usually manifests as an ongoing problem but she never had the symptoms again.

It is interesting to note that my mother had a plethora of outdoor cats used as mousers in the barns and such. Gradually over the following months some of those cats also died or went missing. In time the remaining cats were able to build up a healthy population again.

Dr. Little was the attending physician on duty when my mother arrived by ambulance at McCleary Hospital. I had brought a sample of the substance to the hospital and explained to Dr. Little that less than 24 hours earlier she had made contact with the substance and since we didn’t know what it was would he be willing to do a lab test on it. He agreed and had a lab technician do a routine lab exam. That is when the white blood cell was found. Dr. Little was intrigued by it but baffled as we were. My best recollection is that the lab tech who conducted the test on the goo was known as Kelly.

Once my mother had pointed out the substance to myself and my brother we decided to wear gloves because it was an unknown substance. My background is in occupational safety and health so I opted to wear gloves as a precaution. It is important to note that the gel like substance which was clear, no color at all and about the size of rice grains was literally everywhere. In the grass, on foliage, on my truck window.

We probably would not have noticed them as they would have only appeared as drops of water had my mother not found them on the wood box. She initially thought they were hail. They were not liquid and had mass and were 3 dimensional. I became mildly nauseated a week or so after the first fallout. I became acutely ill with severe bronchitis 6 weeks post the initial fallout. My kitten died on or around the 3rd day of the fall out. It has been reported on some websites that the kitten had digestive problems prior to the fallout but that is not true.

Both of my mother’s dogs fell ill 3 weeks after the first fallout. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The vet said they had an infection and they were treated with antibiotics. It is important to note at this point the fallout of gel was not a single occurrence but instead was a series of 6 fallouts over 3 weeks. All were documented by my mother in her journal. There were rumors that some nearby farms experienced death of larger animals such as horses and cows. I did not investigate those allegations. I have no reason to dispute them but they are here say.

I was concerned about the material and spoke with Dr. Kobioshi at the Washington State Health Laboratory. He advised me to send a sample of the material. I mailed a sample to The Washington State Health lab which was assigned to Mike McDowell one of their epidemiologist on staff. Mike initially set the gel up on bacterial media to see if it would grow anything. It grew two types of bacteria pseudomonas fluorescens and enterobacter collacae. The gel specimen was locked in medium containment facility and over time Mike continued to research it.

At some point he drew the conclusion that the material itself was manmade and was being used as a matrix. A vehicle capable of transporting a virus or bacteria. He did report his findings to his supervisor. When he returned to the lab at some point he discovered the substance was missing. Again he reported this to his supervisor and was advised at that point to not ask any questions. Mike is retired now and still does occasional interviews regarding the subject. I trust his judgment and his findings as he was a credible expert in the field. Mike was interviewed 4 or 5 years ago on a program on the National Geographic Channel the information about the substance missing was revealed in the program. I suspect he was reluctant to speak of it while still employed. He stated that it was the first time in 30 years of service with his job that a sample he was responsible for had gone missing.

I was contacting as many agencies as possible to find assistance in identifying the substance. I took a sample to Mike Osweiler. Mike Osweiler worked for the Department of Ecology. The Department concluded it was an organic material. They determined they did find a cell with a nucleus which indicated to them that it was biological. The cell could have been a bacteria. It was never specified.

Over the years I have held some information close to me. Very little about it has been released to the press. However, 2 years ago some information surfaced on the internet that led me to the conclusion that the Oakville Event was in fact a continuity exercise conducted by the military.

— Sunny Barclift

Final Words

All in all, that was the story of mystery goo-like substance that rained down on a Washington city multiple times over three weeks where dozens of human residents reportedly got sick with severe flu-like symptoms. The biggest enigma left behind, if still unexplained, is that no one knows what these blobs were or where they came from, with all evidence now gone (i.e., evaporated), and the Washington Department of Health proclaiming that no such records of the samples received exist.

References

So what are your theories on what the blobs were, and from where they originated? Do you believe that Barclift’s account explains the incident? Thanks for reading!

Nicole Henley is a writer and storyteller. An East-coast girl whose obsessed with shows like The X-Files, Buffy and almost every crime procedural series under the sun. Writing the story is merely half the journey. When she’s not covering cold cases or mysteries, she’s watching movies or writing poetry, short stories, and flash fiction that may or may not be based on horror.

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Freelance writer of true-crime | unsolved mysteries | marvels of history (and more) • Support me here: buymeacoff.ee/nhenley

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