First published on January 27, 2015.
“… Minnie Freeman safely led thirteen children from her schoolhouse to her home, one half mile (800 m) away. The rumor she used a rope to keep the children together during the blinding storm is widely circulated, but one of the children claimed it was not true. All of her pupils survived. Many children in similar conditions around the Great Plains were not so lucky, as 235 people were killed, most of them children who couldn’t get home from school….”
What a difference a year makes. In January of 2014, the newly installed mayor made a fool out of himself, by not properly mobilizing snowplows. So, this year, once again the hysterical fool, Bill De Plasio is going all out, over the top, predicting catastrophe. It is all about global warming, the end is near, the sky is falling, we are meeting our doom. Yada Yada Yada. In many ways it is funny, predictable, and also quite boring. I live in a part of the country where we’ve been known to get massive snows, like election eve in 2000, where we had nearly 25 inches in less than 12 hours. It was not predicted. The problem with big snows are that they usually can’t be predicted. Snow is a funny thing. You never know what it’s going to do. Just a little hiccup of a mile or two and, instead of that foot we were to get last week, we had maybe 8 inches. I left a comment on the Alternet article, to be predictably crucified. Neither the far right or the far left, nor true believers have much of a sense of humor.
Some of the hype I was hearing just did not make sense in the historic perspective. I started researching blizzards and had a very difficult time finding much of anything that did not go along with the global warming hype. Frankly, there is no rhyme nor reason to these storms.
There have been records of bad storms throughout this nation’s history.
- Valley Forge weather report
- Nebraska’s 1949 winter
- The Dakotas
- The History Channel List
- State by State Records
- Climatic Cooling and Rome
The Great Snow of 1717 was part of the Year Without a Summer:
“…The Great Snow was really a series of four storms that struck in quick succession in late February and early March of 1717. No one is quite sure how widespread the effects were, as record-keeping was spotty in colonial New England. Heavy snow was recorded as far away as Philadelphia, but Boston got hit the hardest. That winter had already been a snowy one, with reports of five feet (1.5 m) of snow already on the ground when the Great Snow began. Three or four more feet (91.4 or 122 cm) were added to that total, with drifts reportedly reaching 25 feet (7.6 m), burying entire houses or forcing people to exit from second story windows..”
The Year Without a Summer: 1816:
“…The year 1816 is known as the Year Without a Summer (also the Poverty Year, the Summer that Never Was, Year There Was No Summer, and Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death), because of severe climate abnormalities that caused average global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F). This resulted in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere. Evidence suggests the anomaly was caused by a combination of a historic low in solar activity with a volcanic winter event, the latter caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), the largest known eruption in over 1,300 years….The aberrations are now generally thought to have occurred because of the April 5–15, 1815, volcanic Mount Tambora eruption on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia (then part of the Dutch East Indies, but under French rule during Napoleon’s occupation of the Netherlands), described by Thomas Stamford Raffles. The eruption had a volcanic explosivity index (VEI) ranking of 7, a supercolossal event that ejected immense amounts of volcanic ash into the upper atmosphere. It was the world’s largest eruption since the Hatepe eruption in 180 AD. That the 1815 eruption occurred during the middle of the Dalton Minimum (a period of unusually low solar activity) may also be significant.”
- 1812, La Soufrière on Saint Vincent in the Caribbean
- 1812, Awu in the Sangihe Islands, Indonesia
- 1813, Suwanosejima in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan
- 1814, Mayon in the Philippines
The Little Ice Age:
“…The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period (Medieval Climate Optimum). While it was not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939. It has been conventionally defined as a period extending from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, or alternatively, from about 1350 to about 1850, though climatologists and historians working with local records no longer expect to agree on either the start or end dates of this period, which varied according to local conditions. NASA defines the term as a cold period between AD 1550 and 1850 and notes three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, each separated by intervals of slight warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report considered the timing and areas affected by the LIA suggested largely independent regional climate changes, rather than a globally synchronous increased glaciation. At most there was modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere during the period.
Several causes have been proposed: cyclical lows in solar radiation, heightened volcanic activity, changes in the ocean circulation, an inherent variability in global climate, or decreases in the human population.
- Mount Rinjani eruption – 1258
- Kuwae in Vanuatu – 1452-53
- Billy Mitchell – 1580
- Huaynaputia – 1600
- Mount Parker – 1641
- Long Island in Papua New Guinea – 1660
- Laki – 1783
The Great White Hurricane of 1881 (March):
“…In January the middle of the country was hit with extremely frigid temperatures dropping as low as -52 degrees. Some areas saw a swing in temperature from 70 degrees to -40 degrees in a matter of days. Nearly 240 people lost their lives which was a large number considering the sparce population between Minnesota and Texas. Livestock also took a major toll due to the low temperatures with cattle getting hardest hit. Many historians have attributed this event to the downfall of the free-range cattle industry. The more famous blizzard however that year was the one that occurred in March. In a 48 hour period anywhere from 40-55 inches of snow fell on areas of New York, Massachusetts, Conneticut, and New Jersey with winds hitting 45 miles per hour.
Many people were stuck in their homes for over a week. Telegraph lines were disabled resulting in some cities like Montreal, Washington D.C. and Boston being isolated for days. In the aftermath numerous states, such as New York, buried their telegraph and telephone lines to prevent storms like this in the future from disabling major means of communication. Road and rail lines were also effected making them impassable for days with drifts in some areas taking over a week to clear.
The shutdown of transportation for so long in these major cities resulted in underground subways being constructed with the first one opening only nine years later in Boston. Fire departments were immoblized and fires raged in certain areas resulting in millions of dollars in damage. Even shipyards and ships at sea were effected. Over 200 ships were grounded or wrecked with nearly 100 seamen losing their lives. Being March the average temperatures are typically above freezing so when the snow started to melt flooding occured especially in Brooklyn. With so much snow piled up many areas, New York foremost on the list, attempted to push as much snow as possible into the Atlantic….”
The Armistice Day Storm: November 11-12, 1940
“…Mild weather ahead of an intense low pressure system tracking from Kansas to western Wisconsin was quickly followed by a raging blizzard. Many people were caught off-guard by the severity of the storm and the plunging temperatures. Sixty degree temperatures during the morning on the 11th was followed by single digit readings by the morning of the 12th. These very cold temperatures and snow amounts were very unusual for this early in the season. Up to 26 inches of snow fell in Minnesota, while winds of 50 to 80 mph and heavy snows were common over parts of the states of Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan. These winds were responsible for whipping up 20 foot drifts. A total of 144 deaths were blamed on the storm (13 in Wisconsin), most of which were duck hunters along the Mississippi River. Milwaukee received only a trace of snow, but 80 mph winds downed hundreds of trees….”
The Children’s Blizzard of 1888
“…One of the most tragic of snowstorms was so deadly because it arrived came unexpectedly during a warm day. The year 1888 was a brutal year for snow. Two months before the Great White Hurricane hit the northeast US in March, the Children’s Blizzard pounded Nebraska and the Midwest. Due to the idyllic conditions, revelers ventured outside unprepared to what was about to hit them. The arctic air swept in from the north and mixed with air that was packed with moisture from the south, creating blizzard conditions at a rapid level. Many school children were victims to the blizzard as they made their way home from school; many died of hypothermia. The majority of the 230 people who died were children…”
Climate change is very real. As for global warming, I’m not a fan. I remember, back in the 1970s, when it was all about a pending global ice age. To understand and put weather, climate into effect, especially if you are a student of history, one needs to have a basic understanding of historic climatology. If you read up on it, you can put Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter into perspective. You grasp the Jane Austen novels, and understand why Wellington prevailed at Waterloo. You begin to understand what the Little Ice Age was all about, and why it is important to European history. It helps to understand that the climate of Ancient Rome was a couple degrees warmer than it is now.
Frankly, I am an advocate for Global Warming. I hate winter, I loath the cold, and want to get out my sandals. Bring it on!
It should be noted that my mother’s favorite observation, when I was growing up was, “I told you so.” Well, as of 6AM EST, the blizzard warning had been lifted for NYC and NJ. I told you so. Once again the current mayor of New York has made a total and complete ass of himself.