Tuesday, November 10, 2009

its not just the weather

One of the phenomena of which 19th century people were fascinated about was weather.  In contrast to its’ being an inconvenience to us in the present, to people of the past, weather affected all aspects of their lives from health to the abundance of food.  They chronicled weather phenomena in the hopes that some pattern could be discerned for future reference.  Earthquakes were seen as weather phenomena and were often noted in conjunction with weather that was occurring at the time of the quake.   For example, this is how a newspaper would mention local weather conditions that were notable:
Extract from C. Pierce's Meteorological Observations made at Portsmouth, (N. H.) several times every day.
Thursday Jan. 16, 1812.--Fahrenheit's Thermometer at sunrise; 4 above 0. Through the remainder of the day from 6 to 10 above 0.
Friday Jan. 17.--Sunrise, 4 below 0. Through the remainder of the day from 0 to 10 above.
Saturday, Jan. 18.--Sunrise, 7 below 0. In no part of the day did it, rise above 0 in the open air.-The cold continued to increase Saturday P. M. until eleven o'clock. At 8 o'clock Saturday ev'g it was 8 below 0; and at 9 o'clock, it was 10 below. This we believe to be the greatest extreme; after which it rose gradually until sunrise on Sabbath morning, when it stood at 5 below 0; but through the remainder of the day, it varied from two below to two above 0.”
(New Madrid id:  18120125_nmad_14_156) from the Boston Independent Chronicle, January 25, 1812, Page 3, Column 1.
Many newspapers carried weather news from other localities or a synopsis of the weather conditions over the week the paper was published.  For the researcher they are a data treasure trove on weather and the occurrence of earthquakes.   The New Madrid Compendium contains numerous weather reports containing earthquake accounts.

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