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10 of the most bizarre news stories in 2020 – KSAT San Antonio

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Cody King, Digital Journalist
Published: December 21, 2020 5:19 am
Updated: December 21, 2020 9:44 am
Cody King, Digital Journalist
This was a year unlike any other. Find more stories wrapping up 2020 here.
This year has been taxing, trying — and really weird.
As if the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t enough for us to handle, with all things considered, 2020 has been one of the most unpredictable, unfathomable, and just downright bizarre years on record.
From murder hornets coming to the U.S. for the first time to Monoliths erected across the nation with no leads as to who is behind it, and let’s not forget the first reported “firenado” in California.
It’s hard to say what 2021 will have in store, but for now, we’re taking a look back at some of the weirdest moments of 2020. Here’s our recap:
A deadly species of hornets commonly found in Japan that can kill up to 50 people a year first appeared in the United States this year. Asian giant hornets, or otherwise known as “murder hornets,” were first found in the U.S. last fall in Washington state, according to a previous KSAT report.
Two sightings of the insect were confirmed in January of this year in Blaine and Bellingham, Washington. A nest of these hornets was also eradicated in British Columbia this year.
The Pentagon released three short videos in late April, showing “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or possible UFOs, that were previously released by a private company.
The video shows UFOs rapidly moving while being recorded by infrared cameras. According to a CNN report, the videos were released by The Pentagon “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”
Mysterious monoliths were erected and then removed in Utah, Romania, California and even San Antonio. But who was behind it? That’s what officials are still trying to figure out.
The first monolith appeared Nov. 23 in Utah’s red-rock desert. Days later, it quickly vanished with no trace of who was responsible for placing it or removing it. Soon after, another monolith was found in northern Romania on top of a hill.
Another monolith appeared and then was quickly removed at the Pine Mountain trail in Atascadero Park, which is located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. There was even one found in San Antonio on the North Side near the San Antonio International Airport. It’s still unclear if these structures were related to one another and what their significance was.
The National Weather Service issued a warning for a fire-induced tornado, or “firenado,” for some California residents in August.
NWS officials called it a “once-in-a-lifetime” weather occurrence, stating the storm — made up of smoke, fire, and a thunderstorm — was capable of producing a “firenado” with outflow winds that could exceed 60 miles per hour.
Even NASA called this storm a “fire-breathing dragon of clouds.”
NASA turned heads in August after warning of an asteroid that was supposedly heading directly for Earth, and many were concerned that it could lead to our “impending doom.”
Although the asteroid, also known as 2018 VP1, was technically heading in the Earth’s direction and was hurling in our solar system, it wasn’t headed right for us, as some scientists first projected in November.
They’re hairy and they may be cute, but trust us when we say you don’t want to go anywhere near them.
One of the most venomous caterpillars in the nation was found in Virginia in October, and as it turns out, they’re already native to the state of Texas. Puss caterpillars, or flannel moths, won’t jump out and bite you, but it’s their furry coat you’ll need to worry about.
Their venomous hairs can cause painful burning, a rash, and “intense throbbing pain that develops immediately or within the first five minutes” of touching them, among other symptoms. Some even compare the pain to a “scorching hot knife.” The best advice? If you see one, steer clear.
In case murder hornets and venomous caterpillars weren’t enough this year, let’s not forget the cicada infestations.
Experts warned certain states in May to prepare for a massive amount of cicadas to make their way to the skies after spending 17 years underground, according to a previous report from CNN.
As many as 1.5 million cicadas were expected to swarm parts of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. The good news? The insects don’t pose a threat to people. They do, however, damage trees.
Some not-so-good news for Subway fans came out this year after Ireland’s Supreme Court ruled that bread sold by Subway restaurants isn’t actually bread.
Or, at least, it doesn’t match up with the legal definition of bread.
Officials said due to how much sugar is in the bread, it legally cannot be defined as such. The ruling was brought on by an Irish Subway franchisee who argued that some of its products were not liable for value-added tax, according to an article by the Associated Press.
Judges rejected the appeal and ruled that Subway’s bread can’t be considered a “staple food,” which isn’t taxed.
Some people received quite an unexpected package in the mail this year, even in Texas.
Tiny bags of mystery seeds from China were mailed across the U.S. in July and were reportedly found in Washington, Virginia, Utah, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, and Texas. This prompted a warning from the USDA, telling residents that received the seeds not to plant them but to file a report.
Texas residents received the seeds in what initially appeared to be a tiny bag marked as jewelry.
Officials said it’s illegal to send seeds to the U.S. from overseas without having a proper permit. They also said these seeds are likely part of a “brushing scam.”
What better way to cap off 2020 than look to the sky and witness something not seen in almost 800 years.
Astronomers said Jupiter and Saturn will look like a double planet when they appear to nearly collide on Dec. 21, which is also the date of the winter solstice. The planets will then form a rare phenomenon known as a “Christmas star.”
You’ll be able to witness the event in the sky through binoculars or a small telescope.
NASA officials said this occurrence happens every 20 years this century. However, this event is “the greatest great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn” and won’t happen again until the year 2080.
2020 in photos: AP images capture chaos, sorrow amid pandemic, protests, catastrophes
Gone too soon: Celebrities who died in 2020
Copyright 2020 by KSAT – All rights reserved.
Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.
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