Press-Republican

Columns

May 29, 2013

Pinch of time: Weird weather in 1816 affected North Country

The bags of mulch are stacked on the front porch, ready to keep the weeds down in my flower gardens. The only problem is the not-yet-bloomed flowers are soaked.

Where did all this rain come from? Back in early May, I thought we had it made with early sunshine and nice weather. I should have known better.

Snow in northern New York on May 25? Say it isn’t so, but it has been worse.

“The Year Without a Summer” happened in 1816, the result of an incident in April 1815. According to www.about.com, it would take more than 100 years before scientists understood why.

On the remote island of Sumbawa stood Mount Tambora, a volcano 12,000 feet high. On April 5, 1815, it started to rumble, much to everyone’s surprise.

No cell phones in those days, not even a telegraph on that tiny island — historians have had to rely on eyewitness accounts, in particular Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, who was serving as governor of Java at the time.

Sir Thomas published a brilliant account of the day, gathered from English traders and military personnel. Accounts state that on April 10, the volcano blew its top, shooting fire into the sky in three columns.

It was thought that a gun battle was ensuing on the ocean. Military troops were dispatched, and ships were sent to help in the fight. Can you imagine their surprise, wandering around on the Indian Ocean looking for a battle and finding none?

Inhabitants on an island 10 miles to the south said the entire mountain looked like it was turning to liquid fire, throwing stones of volcanic matter onto neighboring islands. Reports state that the eruptions were accompanied by violent winds, small earthquakes and tsunamis. Archaeologists have uncovered settlements that were wiped out.

By fall of 1815, London was experiencing some of the eeriest sunsets the city had ever seen. In the following year, dust particles from Mount Tambora were carried by wind currents across the world. Weather in Europe and North America was drastically affected. Spring and summer were cold, crops didn’t grow, and a food shortage ensued.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg World in palm of our hands

    A newsroom workshop made writer Susan Tobias realize how far technology has come since she started working at the Press-Republican.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mulholland_Jonathan.jpg Running tips to get you in top form

    Different limb lengths, tighter muscles, stiffer joints, prior injuries all play role in determining your running style, Jonathan Mulholland writes.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • clute_cropped.jpg When children are put at risk

    Adults who deal drugs, commit domestic violence and other crimes with kids present are guilty of yet another crime, writes columnist Penny Clute.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Walace_Jolene 7-12_cropped.jpg Let these tips on planting trees take root

    You may think that digging a hole and plopping the tree in will suffice, and it will if you only want the tree to live a short time, columnist Jolene Wallace writes.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • amy_ivy.jpg Is it time to plant? Not yet

    All we can do is wait and see how things get through, columnist Amy Ivy writes.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time