Skip to comments.Eighteen Hundred And Froze To Death (The Infamous 'Year Without Summer')
Posted on 03/12/2005 8:10:49 PM PST by blam
Eighteen Hundred and Froze To Death
The Infamous "Year Without A Summer"
Of the cold summers in the period 1811 to 1817, the year 1816 has gone down in the annals of New England history as "The Year There Was No Summer," the "Poverty Year" and "Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death." The year began with a moderate but dry winter. Spring was tardy and continued very dry. The growing season from late spring to early fall, however, was punctuated by a series of devastating cold waves that did major damage to the crops and greatly reduced the food supply. In areas of central and northern New England, the summer had only two extended periods without frost or near freezing temperatures. A widespread snow fell in June. As a result, corn did not ripen and hay, fruits, and vegetables were greatly reduced in quantity and quality.
From contemporary newspaper accounts and diary entries as well as a small network of stations at which meteorological conditions were recorded daily, it is possible document the turn of events in the summer of 1816. (For the location of most sites mentioned in the text, see the map at the end of the article.)
The Year Begins
With the beginning of 1816, there was no indication of the cold which was to come. January's temperatures were near normal at the Massachusetts settlements of New Bedford, Salem and Williamstown while Cambridge was 5 Fo above normal, and New Haven, Connecticut, 4 Fo below normal. February was at or slightly below normal at all sites. The winter in the northern New Hampshire community of Lancaster was reported as unusually mild with less than the expected snowfall according to the diary of Adino Brackett.
The downward turn in temperature began in the spring. The months of March and April were reported below normal. In addition, precipitation was still much less than normal. The combination of cold and drought prompted Thomas Robbins of East Windsor, Connecticut to note in his diary, "the vegetation does not seem to advance at all."
The Albany Advertiser contended they had "no recollection of so backward a season...the length and severity of drought checked progress of vegetation, grass withered." Consequently, the lack of pasture necessitated that livestock be stall fed with the corn reserves set aside for human consumption because the winter's supply of hay had been exhausted.
The pattern of cold and dry weather continued through early May, further delaying the planting and growth of vegetation. But, a mild winter and cool, dry spring do not portend disaster in most agricultural communities, only the coming months would immortalize the year 1816 in the history annals.
The First Hint On the 12th of May, the first in a series of late Spring cold waves crossed the St Lawrence River from northeastern Canada. By the 15th, frost had penetrated into Pennsylvania and Virginia. Frost was reported in Quebec City from the 12th to the 19th and snow fell on the 14th. The cold in New England lasted to the 18th. The unusual aspect of this frost was its southern penetration. While frosts in mid-May are not uncommon in northern New England, May frosts in New Haven, Connecticut are rare--the last frost of spring normally occurring around April 20.
A storm system approached the St Lawrence River Valley on the 26th bringing rain and easterly winds to Quebec. By Monday morning, the 27th, fog and a gentle rain, characteristic of a warm front, ushered mild temperatures into the area. The Quebec Gazette (30 May 1816) noted this system "gave a new spring to vegetation. The wheat and pease [sic], just above the ground, had a most promising appearance; the meadows and the pasture ground were in a deep verdure." The wild fruit trees too were beginning to blossom, and the forests finally bursting into leaf.
The optimism was quickly dashed Tuesday afternoon as a swiftly passing cold front drew frigid arctic air southward on strong northwesterly winds. By sundown, the front had crossed over New Haven, Connecticut and Kingston, Rhode Island. By morning of the 29th, reports of ice a quarter inch in thickness and a light dusting of snow came from Quebec. David Thomas in his Travels through the Western Country in the Summer of 1816, wrote from near Erie, Pennsylvania, "This morning was very frosty and ice covered the water ¼ inch thick. We had a brisk breeze from the northeast." The next morning he wrote: "A severe frost attended this morning."
On the morning of the 30th, frost was again reported in Quebec and Erie. Robbins expressed fear for his fruit trees in East Windsor although there was no frost. In Warren, Maine, the first blossoms on fruit trees were reported to be set back substantially. Corn plants in Norway, Maine were completely killed and subsequently replanted.
In his diary, Brackett wrote: "The whole of the month has been so cold and wet that wheat could not be sown 'til late and then the ground could not be well prepared." In many areas, however, this first cold wave did little damage since few crops were far enough along to be affected.
But the cold was soon forgotten as the air mass moved off the Atlantic Coast. In its wake, milder air returned as June began. To the west, however, a second and stronger weather system was about to enter the New England scene. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the 5th of June, Thomas reported a cold wave of unusual severity for June: "each night was attended by considerable frost." This was to be the harbinger for the most infamous period in the Summer of 1816.
"Most Extraordinary Weather" During the night hours of the 5th, rain began to fall over Quebec City. The temperature, however, soon plummeted toward the freezing mark so that by the morning of the 6th, the rain was mixed with snow.
Meanwhile in New England, the weather of the 5th gave hardly a hint of what was to come. The passage of a low pressure trough brought some cloud and warm temperatures on southerly winds to the region, and daytime temperatures were seasonable. Williamstown reached 83 oF at noon, but shortly thereafter, a thunderstorm cooled the air to 69 oF The temperature remained warm, however, the shower; being an indication of the atmospheric instability characteristic of the warm sector of a low pressure system. At 2 pm, New Haven recorded 79 oF while Brunswick, Maine reported a 76 oF reading.
The North Star of Danville, Vermont reported:
[June 5] "was perhaps as warm and sultry a day as we have had since September--At night heat lightning was observed, but on Thursday morning the change of weather was so great that a fire was not only comfortable, but actually necessary. The wind during the whole day was as piercing and cold as it usually is the first of November and April. Snow and hail [ice pellets] began to fall about ten o'clock A.M., and the storm continued till evening, accompanied with a brisk wind, which rendered the habiliments of winter necessary for the comfort of those exposed to it....Probably no one living in the country ever witnessed such weather, especially of so long continuance." By early morning of the 6th, the cold air mass arrived in Williamstown. The 7 am temperature stood at 45 oF, which was to be the high for the day. The meteorological register for the day contained the entry: "A cold rainy day from N.W.--not much rain & winds & very chilly."
At Elizabethtown, New York, the cold front passed before dawn and at 7:30 am a three-hour snow storm began. Throughout the day, snow showers were general, blown on icy westerly winds that froze the ground and destroyed most garden vegetables.
Benjamin Harwood, a Bennington, Vermont farmer, entered the following in his diary for the date:
"It had rained much during the night and this morning the wind blew exceedingly high from NE, raining copiously, chilling and sharp gusts. About 8 A.M. began to snow--continued more or less till past 2 P.M. The heads of all the mountains on every side were crowned with snow. The most gloomy and extraordinary weather ever seen." Joshua Whitman at North Turner, Maine wrote of cold northwest winds with snow squalls. Adino Brackett in Lancaster, New Hampshire also reported snow, commenting, "This is beyond anything of the kind I have ever known." Snow was reported at Kingston, Ontario, Montreal and Quebec City, Quebec in Canada as well as Danville and Montpelier, Vermont; Warren and Bangor, Maine; Amherst, New Hampshire; Plymouth, Connecticut; Geneva and Oneida County, New York; and Waltham, Massachusetts.
Morning temperatures on the 6th at Salem, Massachusetts, Waltham, Massachusetts and Brunswick, Maine were 57 oF, 57 oF, and 44 oF, respectively, not abnormally cold for the season, but each was to be the local high for the day. By the morning of the 7th, the rapid and extreme drops in temperature froze bodies of standing water to one inch thickness in Danville and the thickness of a dollar coin in Montreal. Harwood described the morning as stiff with frost, with tree leaves blackened and snow remaining in the mountains until past noon.
Temperatures across the region on the 7th showed the extent of the cold air invasion. Middlebury College in Vermont recorded an even 32 oF for a low while the Waltham, Massachusetts temperature plummeted to 35 oF. The Reverend Alexander Sparks reported from Quebec low temperatures near the freezing mark (34 oF) at 8 am. Temperatures remained cold all day, rising to only 36 oF at 3 pm.
In his autobiography, Chauncey Jerome recalled walking to work in Plymouth, Connecticut that day dressed with thick woolen clothes and overcoat, his hands becoming so cold that he had to don mittens.
Benjamin Harwood's diary entry June 7 tells us:
"the surface of the ground was stiff with frost-- the leaves of the trees were blackened--past 6 in the morning a wash-tub full of rain water was scum'd with ice, snow remained on Sandgate and Manchester Mountain past noon or as late as that." Late on the 7th, a second cold front crossed the region, bringing significant snowfall to the area. From the highlands of Vermont came reports of 5 to 6 inches of snow with drifts to over a foot. At Lunenberg, Vermont, Dr Hiram Cutting measured 5 inches on the ground. Amounts at other locations ranged from "a plentiful fall" at Portland, Maine, a foot at Cabot, Vermont, and 6 inches at Barnard, Vermont to "a few flakes" at Middlebury, Connecticut, Waltham, Massachusetts and Salem, Massachusetts. The Danville North Star reported a "kind of sleet or exceedingly cold snow."
Snow and freezing temperatures continued through the 8th. The Quebec Gazette observed that on the morning of the 8th, "the whole of the surrounding country was in the same state, having...the appearance of the middle of December." On the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, banks of snow reached the axletrees of the carriages. The Rev. Sparks in Quebec City wrote: "...bleak cold very uncommon weather for the season. It snowed a little the whole day--at 10 at night the ground was completely covered."
The cold too was intense. Benjamin Harwood wrote in his diary entry for the day:
"The awful scene continued. Sweeping blasts from the North all the forepart of the day, with light snow squalls....So cold in the morning that we were absolutely compelled to send for our mittens and wear them till near noon-day." Joshua Whitman proclaimed:
"All travellers need great coats and mittens. I presume the oldest person now living knows of no such weather the 8th of June." Great numbers of birds sought shelter in houses and barns; many falling dead in the fields. In the north, many newly-shorn sheep perished in the cold.
The cold air mass settled over New England for the next three days. Each morning was frosty. On the 9th, frost was reported as far south as Worcester, Massachusetts and on the 10th to East Windsor, Connecticut. The coldest day of the month at Waltham was the 10th with a 33 oF temperature reading at sunrise. At Williamstown, the 5 am temperature on the 11th dropped to 30.5 oF. The cold finally ended that day as the high pressure system slipped to the east. The afternoon temperature rose on southerly winds, with Waltham reaching 68 oF for the high.
The newspaper accounts of the period were best expressed in the Danville North Star (15 June 1816) under the headline Melancholy Weather which lamented:
"Some account was given in last week's issue of the unparalleled severity of the weather. It continued without any essential amelioration, from the 6th to the 10th instant--freezing as hard five nights in succession as it usually does in December....Saturday morning the weather was more severe than it generally is during the storms of winter. It was indeed a gloomy and tedious period." Chauncey Jerome many years later, reminisced that his wife brought in some clothes, which had been spread on the ground the night before, that were frozen as stiff as in winter.
The effects of the five-day frigid spell were staggering, especially to a basically subsistence agricultural system. In Quebec, great numbers of birds and newly-shorn sheep perished in the cold. Gardens and wild fruit trees which had come to blossom suffered severely. Fortunately, the cold spring had prohibited many trees from coming to full leaf or blossom thus averting more extensive frost damage. The snow, ironically, actually protected many of the young crops from the severe frosts and thereby reduced the degree of damage.
The Quebec Gazette warned:
"Under circumstances so unfavorable to the productions of the earth throughout so great an extent of country, precautions against scarcity cannot be too strongly recommended....Nothing which may provide sustenance for man or beast ought to be neglected..." The lateness of the season made rapid planting of barley, potatoes, and turnips imperative if they were to reach maturity before the usual fall freezes began. In New England, whatever corn had emerged from the soil was killed by the June frosts as were most garden vegetables. In Vermont, birds and lambs died from exposure. Throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio, the first growths of spring had been entirely destroyed along with the peach and apple blossoms. The New Hampshire Sentinel of Keene reported: "Season very unpromising, we begin to despair of corn, hay will come extremely light."
The Warmth Returns, Briefly With the passing of the arctic air mass into the Atlantic, the temperatures rose to seasonable values for the rest of June. A heat wave from the 22nd to the 24th brought temperatures in excess of 90 oF at Waltham, with a peak of 99 oF the afternoon of the 23rd. Williamstown reached 93 oF on the 24th. The only mention of wintery weather came in reports from St. David, Quebec where severe frosts struck on the 28th and 29th. Optimism re-emerged as replanted vegetable gardens grew quickly under the warm June sun. As the first week of July passed there were hopes of making up for lost time.
More Cold in July On the 6th of July, Williamstown reported a wind shift to northwest with falling temperatures. The arrival of a cold front during July more often than not is a welcomed event in New England. But the memories of earlier weather events must have brought apprehension to those weatherwise to the sign of approaching cold air. Any fears were well founded, for this cold front would also leave its mark on the fields. Though not as severe as its predecessors, it did bring extreme cold to Waltham, Massachusetts, and as far south as Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and Richmond, Virginia. Temperatures in the 40 oF range were reported in Connecticut at both Hartford and New Haven. Robbins in East Windsor noted temperatures almost cold enough for a frost.
The brunt of this cold air settled in northern New England with frost probably occurring on the uplands or in low-lying areas. In Francona, New Hampshire, the frost was severe enough on the 8th to completely kill the local bean crop. The cold ended on the 9th as morning temperatures of 44 oF at Waltham and 43 oF at Williamstown were reported at 7 am.
The combination of cold and drought which had gripped New England for most of the growing season began to elicit fears of a general famine. Estimates of the hay crop were one-third to one-half of that expected--presaging an equivalent reduction in livestock which could be housed over the winter of 1816-17. Reports from Kennebunk, Maine stated that this July frost killed beans, cucumbers and squash.
Rain across New England on the 17th brought renewed hopes, especially for the hardier cereal grains. Wheat and rye showed promises of good, even excellent, yields as the cold was credited with destroying such enemies of wheat such as rust and the Hessian fly.
With high-flying optimism, a New Hampshire Patriot editorial of August 6th decried the tendency to famine fever by announcing "to our friends at a distance that to the prospect of a general famine has succeeded one of uncommon plenty." Indeed, hay was light and corn more backward than usual, but rye promised a bumper crop, and wheat and early grains looked healthy. The Albany Advertiser on the 5th emphasized that with continued warm weather all "apprehensions of scarcity will have subsided."
August Gloom In less than two weeks, however, another series of cold waves would cross New England, forever dashing hopes of a normal harvest. The first wave brought frost to the interior of New York and northern New England on the 13th and 14th of August. Corn was again laid low. New England south of Concord, New Hampshire was given a respite from this invasion, but it was only to last a week.
Around noon on August 20, a violent thunderstorm with strong winds passed over Amherst, New Hampshire. In the wake of this storm line, the temperature plummeted nearly 30 Fo. Frosty temperatures were reported east to Portland, Maine and south to East Windsor. From Warren, New Hampshire came word of snow on Mt Moosilauke. The cold destroyed the corn in low-lying areas between Albany and Boston where crops were already suffering severely from the drought.
Sidney Perley wrote in his book Historic Storms of New England (1891):
"On the night of the twenty-first, there was a frost, which at Keene and at Chester, N.H., killed a large part of the corn, potatoes, beans, and vines, and also injured many crops in Maine. It was felt as far south as Boston and Middlesex county in eastern Massachusetts...It put an end to the hopes of many farmers of ripening their corn, especially in the low lands, and they immediately cut the whole stalkes [sic] up for fodder, but being in the milk it heated in the shocks and spoiled....If the frost had kept off two weeks longer, there would have been a very good crop of corn in Massachusetts." What corn survived these first two cold periods was destroyed when the next cold wave broke out in the waning days of the month. The severe frost of the 28th put an end to all hopes of Keene, New Hampshire corn growers. Whole fields in Keene and northern Maine were cut up for fodder in a last attempt to salvage something of the crop. On the morning of the 29th, Williamstown registered a temperature of 37.5 oF at seven in the morning.
Charles Pierce of Morrisville, New Jersey summarized the month of August as: "such a cheerless, desponding, melancholy summer month, the oldest inhabitant never, perhaps, experienced. This poor month entered upon its duites so perfectly chilled, as to be unable to raise one warm, foggy morning, or cheerful sunny day."
As is common in the wake of a cold air mass, favorable temperatures returned for much of early September, but the drought continued. At mid-month some areas of northern and central New England again experienced frost. Frost at this time, however, only preceded the average date of the first fall frost by a week or two.
The drought at last broke in Connecticut on the 9th, and the rains continued for 8 days, dropping 5 inches on New Haven. Rain did not spread to northern New England, however, until the 14th and here it was light. Brunswick, Maine reported only 0.3 inches for the whole month and Williamstown, Massachusetts recorded 1.1 inches for September, compared to an expected 3.0 inches. Widespread killing frost on the 27th put an end to the dismal growing season--nearly two weeks ahead of the average date for the first killing frost of autumn in southern New England.
1816 In Perspective With an additional 175 years of meteorological records, we are able to put the Summer of 1816 into proper prospective. The mean summer temperature at New Haven of 66.2 oF was the coldest in the nearly 200 years of record and nearly 4.57 Fo colder than the mean temperature. In Philadelphia, 1816 was the second coldest year on record. The departure from normal at Cambridge, New Bedford, Williamstown and Salem, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut ranged from 2.5 to 5.0 Fo below normal for May, 5.2 to 7.0 Fo below for June, 5.4 to 7.0 Fo below during July, 1.6 to 3.2 Fo below in August, and 0.5 Fo above to 5.0 Fo below normal for September.
The autumn and early winter were, in contrast, above normal, and thus the year 1816 was only 1 to 3 Fo below the normal, ranking it only in the top ten coldest years. There have even been individual summer months with colder mean temperatures in New England. For example, June 1817 was 1.3 Fo colder at Williamstown than June 1816, as was June 1903. What made the Summer of 1816 so unusual was the extreme nature of several consecutive months.
With the end of the growing season, the total effect of "the year there was no summer" on local agriculture was finally realized. Frost had killed most of the corn in New England, and of that harvested not half was fit to roast. In some areas, the gathering amounted to less than 10% of the usual crop. Joseph Philbrick of Weare, New Hampshire wrote, "Indian corn the least known in the history of man, in consequence of the cold summer it could not ripen..." The New Hampshire Patriot (October 22, 1816) reported: "Indian corn on which a large proportion of the poor depend is cut off. It is believed that through New England scarcely a tenth part of the usual crop of sound corn will be gathered."
Former Revolutionary War General David Humphreys was, in 1816, President of the Connecticut Society of Agriculture. He summed up the situation as:
"The principal injury done by the early and late frosts, fell on our most important crop, Indian corn. Of this, there is not more than half the usual quantity; and, in many places in this neighbourhood, not more than a quarter part sufficiently hard and ripe for being manufactured into meal. That which is unripe, mouldy or soft, when given as feed to hogs and cattle, has little tending to fatten them." Reports of orchard yields ranged from barren to moderate. The very small hay crop left prospects for winter fodder most alarming. Small grains and wheat harvests were reported good across New England. From Montreal, came accounts of a middling crop of vegetables and fair wheat crop, leaving the fear that many parishes in Quebec must inevitably be in a state of famine before winter set in.
The Halifax (Nova Scotia) Weekly Chronicle noted: "great distress prevails in many parishes throughout [Quebec] Province from a scarcity of food....many of them have no bread." In December 1816, the paper lamented: "It has been given us from the most authentic sources, that several parishes in the interior part of [Quebec] are already so far in want of provisions, as to create the most serious alarms among the inhabitants."
The Reverend William Fogg of Kittery, Maine summed it up with the complaint, "No prospect of crops. Crops cut short and a heavy load of taxes."
The general failure of the crop in 1816 in the Northeast had repercussions at the market place well into 1817. The effects of the poor crop yield on the wholesale prices as reflected on the New York market have been reconstructed by Professor J.B. Hoyt (Ann. Assoc. Am. Geog., 1958).
Before presenting his findings, two points must be emphasized. First, the period 1812 to 1818 was an exceptionally cold period in New England history with the growing season of 1816, the coldest one. Thus, crop yields were lower throughout the 1812-1818 period.
Second, the prices reflect the New York City marketplace. Better harvests in Southern and Mid- Atlantic States may have lowered New York market prices in comparison to what the commodity would have cost in local New England markets.
Wheat prices generally held in the $1.50 to $2.00 a bushel range from January 1814 to October 1816. When the extent of the damage to the 1816 general harvest became apparent, the price of wheat began to rise to $2.75 by January 1817 and peaked that April at $2.87. With the winter wheat harvest of 1817 prices again returned to more normal levels.
Corn followed a similar trend bringing $0.75 to $1.12 a bushel prior to the Summer of 1816. In response to the frosts of June and July, the price rose to $1.35 in August. With the reality of the crop devastation confirmed at harvest, the cost of a bushel of corn rose to $1.78 in early 1817. Locally, however, the price went higher. In Newbury, Vermont, corn sold for $2.50 per bushel in the fall of 1816. The same corn brought $3 in Peacham, Vermont. In the spring of 1817, seed corn brought $5 a bushel in Barnard, Vermont. In the town of De Ruyter, New York, Jonathan Bentley paid $2 for a bushel of corn which, when ground to meal, proved unfit for human consumption. His hogs even refused this vile food.
Livestock prices differ in their pattern from grain prices. A normal annual trend would show prices rising to a peak in August with an autumnal decline as summer-fattened stock was sent to market. In 1816, however, the prospect of a poor hay harvest caused farmers to begin sending their stock to market late in the spring and early summer, thus eliminating the usual summer rise in prices. In September, the flow of stock to market increased sharply when it was realized that keeping the stock fed throughout the winter would be nearly impossible. Prices for beef, which had been around the $15.50 per barrel mark, dropped to $7.75 in the fall and winter of 1816-17. Pork declined from $26 to $16 per barrel in the same period.
By the spring of 1817, the worst of the shortage appeared. For example in De Rutyer, New York, one farmer was obliged to exhume his newly planted potatoes to provide his family with a meal. Other town inhabitants sent an agent to Onondaga County to canvas for wheat and corn. His successful return brought "great rejoicing to the citizenry and tears to strong men's eyes" according to local history accounts.
W.M. Newton in Barnard, Vermont and William Little in Warren, Maine both commented that the terrible summer of 1816 so disheartened many people that as a consequence they sold out and migrated to the new western frontier. While population figures show a slower rate of growth during the decade 1810 to 1820 in New England than occurred during the previous two decades, many other factors were probably involved in this decline, the climate included.
What Made 1816 So Cold? The meteorological facts of life during 1816 have been laid out. The period March to September was marked by a series of strong and frequent invasions of dry arctic air across New England. While the movement of arctic air masses through this region is not uncommon in other seasons, their appearance in the summer as cold and frequent as in 1816 is indeed unusual. The question arises, why? Various theories have been put forward.
The most likely cause was volcanic influences. Proponents note that a number of major volcanic eruptions preceded 1816: Soufriére and St. Vincent in 1812: Mayon and Luzon in the Phillippines during 1814; Tambora in Indonesia during 1815. The volcanic theory of climatic influence relates increased volcanic activity with decreased temperatures due to the increased reflection of solar radiation from volcanic dust blown and trapped high in the atmosphere. The Tambora eruption has been estimated to be the most violent in historical times. The explosion is believed to have lifted 150 to 180 cubic kilometres of material into the atmosphere. For a comparison, the infamous 1883 eruption of Krakatau ejected only 20 cubic kilometres of material into the air, and yet it affected sunsets for several years after.
Other causes of temperature abnormalities which have been hypothesized include abnormal temperature of ocean waters over a large area, solar variations related to sunspot activity, or changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide or ozone content, but no data exist to uphold or refute these theories. The final possible cause is that the weather of 1816 was just a matter of chance --- that a series of events occurring at the right place and time could initiate the atmospheric conditions which became the weather of the Summer of 1816.
Final Words This account focuses almost solely on conditions in the Northeastern United States and parts of eastern Canada. But the Year 1816 was also unusually cold elsewhere. Reports from northern Europe indicate similar impacts on crops and the population, just as the continent was emerging from the chaos of the Napoleonic Wars. The unusual weather lead to riots in France shaking the new constitutional monarchy of Louis XVIII and Tallyrand. Some historians believe the famine begun in 1816 created conducive conditions for the typhus epidemic that killed millions from 1817-1819.
While the exact cause of the unusual weather of 1816 may never be completely known, the reality of the year was apparent to the inhabitants of New England. The emotions of many could best be expressed in the words of Adino Brackett in his final entry for 1816:
"This past summer and fall have been so cold and miserable that I have from despair kept no account of the weather. It could have been nothing but a repeatation [sic] of frost and drought."
Map of Locations Mentioned in Text
I just completed watching a special on the Tambora (Pompeii In The East), on the Discovery Channel. Thought others would be interested.
Where was the Sierra club then. Blaming a Bush forefather iI suppose.
The first thing I thought of was volcanoes, too. But, as I kept reading, there were no mentions of 'blood red' or colorful sunstes as I had read about with Krakatau.
Thanks for the link to Tambora. I'll have to check that out.
The special I just watched covered this aspect by showing the red sunsets painted by various artists of that time.
We just had another six inches of snow today, on top of a considerable pile of snow already there. The snow off the roof outside my study is reaching up toward the tops of the windows. My snowblower just broke down.
Ouch. I wonder what Punxatauny Phil had to say in 1816?
Man, where are you. I spent the day in shorts and T-shirt...it's cooled off this evening some though.
Global Warming Bump
Considering that baseball players are known as the 'boys of summer', I thought New England has been without summer since 1918, up until last year that is........
Thank you so much for posting this. I've refrenced this incident before but having a link will be nice.
" Man, where are you. I spent the day in shorts and T-shirt...it's cooled off this evening some though."
It was 70 degrees here in Longmont, Colorado today but it cooled down this evening and it's snowing like a dog now. It's supposed to snow for three days. We need the moisture.
In Mobile: High:76 Low:54 Present: 61 Fair. (Bed time...g'nite)
There's really no doubt that Tambora caused the Year Without Summer. If anything, it's a bit odd that this commentary seems so uncertain in attributing it.
bump for later reading........
I'm so sick of this white crap!
Very interesting. Good post.
Thanks for the post, it is quite an interesting bit of history. [Too bad the history channel did not have something on it, but they were too busy with UFOs again tonight. ]
Know some people that live downriver and live about exclusively on what they grow & catch. That means they eat beets, carotts, and lettuce in about everything along with moose and salmon. Maybe every other year their spuds make it. No complaining from them though. Summer snowfall common here and you plan for it. We always get 1000 lb potatoes, and use plastic for frost.
Cold summers are like Y2K fears.
The Tambora eruption was in a league of its own - in historic times.
I saw part of that show, (fell asleep, the hazzard of eating dinner and then lying in bed).
The caldera (?) is hugh, five miles across?
Yup. Compare that to the Yellowstone caldera (super-volcano) which is 50 miles across
"I just completed watching a special on the Tambora"
Saw that too. Excellent.
I guess it's all relative. We lost almost all our apples last year and the year before because of late frosts, and my kids planted the vegetable garden several times. Maybe this year we'll do better. We have some really old apple trees. They're small and gnarly looking but much tastier than the new ones.
I know people that grow spliced apple trees and they survive the minus 60 winter temps but the moose are hard on them.
I just prune the old trees, I haven't planted any, but as I understand it all apple trees in common use are grafted. You take a hardy rootstock and graft the kind of apple tree you want onto it. That's why new shoots coming up from the roots need to be cut back, because they won't produce any useful fruit.
We get down to around 30 below here from time to time, so we need hardy stock, but that's still quite a ways above 50 below.
Most people don't realize but for the last 100 or so years we have been in a warming trend. We should be at the end of it now though.
Indiana became a state in 1816, I've often wondered if there were a connection or the year without summer was an omen.........
What was the summer weather forecast like in Northern New England between 100,000 and 12,000 years ago.
Weather Channel spokesman: - 50 F today, high 60 mile per hour winds, glacier expected to remain 1/2 mile thick in the long-term 1,000 year forecast. Same tomorrow.
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This news just in:
Here in Michigan, 2 years ago, we had a snowstorm on May 6 - got about 5 inches. And I've seen plenty days in June that felt cold enough for snow.
The fact that the Earth has remained temperate, (between the freezing point and the evaporation point of water) for the last like 3.5 billion years is remarkable.
We are at just the right distance, just the right size to not have a crushing atmosphere, been pretty lucky.
It could change in a decade.
I grew up in upstate New York, where domestic and wild apple trees are everywhere.
The wild varieties tend to be a bit softer than the hybrids but they are extremely sweet and seem to ripen overnight. They don't store well, except when they got 16 inches of snow over them.
Pretty much the same with the pears, but they are usually harder and last longer.
I miss the black raspberries.
May 5 snowstorm on the day we closed on the house here in central Wisconsin eight or so years ago. Only a couple of inches though & it melted that day.
This is when my ancestors, who had lived in New England since the 1600's, packed it in and headed for sunny Illinois.
Yow! Those are big potatoes!
Yeah, 2003 and 2004 had long, wet, cold springs, which made me think of the sudden end to good weather at the beginning of the Little Ice Age (not that I was there, just read about it). Due to changes in agricultural methods since 1900, the US generated its largest ever grain crop last year, despite the crappy spring around here (Michigan).
A couple of our neighbors have old-fashioned cider presses, so when the time is right we usually have a big party, everybody brings baskets of apples and jugs, and we handle the problem that way.
My wife also makes applesauce and freezes it. The little old-fashioned apples always make much better applesauce than the commercial brands.
Wife fryed up yukon golds today, that had been down root cellar; they are actually sweeter than when dug last summer.
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