‘Dear Journal’ – The County
Editor’s Note: This is a reprint of one of Ted Shapiro’s original Weather Whys columns. Most people are unaware that very important weather information was gleaned from old weather logs, which were often kept by farmers and townspeople.
Editor’s Note: This is a reprint of one of Ted Shapiro’s original Weather Whys columns.
Most people are unaware that very important weather information was gleaned from old weather logs, which were often kept by farmers and townspeople.
It is thanks to these logs, for example, that we know of a huge snowstorm on January 28, 1772, which buried George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in 3 feet of snow. They each wrote it down in their diaries!
In fact, a colleague of mine was able to use a combination of modern records and old diaries to confidently say that at the height of the DC snowstorm of 2009-10, the snow covering the countryside of the northern Virginia was deeper than at any time since the Revolutionary War.
Now, as a Weather Ready Nation Ambassador, I have worked with parents and their school-aged children to help them start keeping their own sightings. It’s a great thing to do together and will hopefully “reintroduce” the simple pleasures of observation (as opposed to relying on, say, “apps” on smartphones). Plus, it’s something your child will remember forever, doing weather observations with you, just like I remember talking about nature walks with my mom when I was a kid.
But you don’t even need me because it’s so easy to start on your own! First, get yourself a basic U-shaped max / min thermometer. How? Google on “U-shaped max / min base thermometer” and you’ll find tons of links. You don’t want anything digital, since it’s all about observing your surroundings, not from the comfort of your living room. These cost around $ 20 or so, and they’re really cool because they leave a trail of what the ups and downs were like since you last checked them out! That and a good cloud field guide will get you started really well (I happen to like the “Audubon Company Field Guide to North American Weather”).
So keeping a weather log is really easy (and fun). What you are trying to do is convey the character of the day. And you do it by adding some cool extras. For example, if it is the first day after winter that you notice that it is warm inside the car when you open the door for the first time, this is a good example. a good thing to write to convey the character of the day. Here’s another: “For the first time this fall, I had to wear a jacket. Or “The grass is really starting to turn green.” Or “The trees are just starting to grow. “Or” The sun at the end of February is getting noticeably stronger. I had to remove layers while skiing. Again, these types of extras help paint a picture of the character of the day, what the day looked like or looked like, instead of just writing down the high and low temperature and the amount of rain that fell.
The list of “extras” to add is endless and, remember, some very famous people have kept weather logs. But famous or not, newspapers of all time may contain hidden gems (like the Washington-Jefferson Storm of 1772) for would-be researchers lucky enough to come into their possession.
Meteorologist Ted Shapiro wrote his column “Weather Whys” during his 15 years living in Presque Isle. Although he now lives in Southwest Florida, he thought his loyal readers might benefit from a few reminder introductions, which will appear in these pages from time to time.