Archive for Monday, September 9, 2013

Weather can ruin plans, change history

September 9, 2013

Other than sports or politics, weather is probably the biggest conversation topic in the world. No matter what the weather conditions are, we are never really happy. And in Kansas, with our changeable weather and often-unpredictable climate, there is usually a lot to discuss.

I know that I can be critical about weather conditions, particularly if it causes me to change plans. If you remember in 2012, the summer was extremely dry and hot. So when did we get a big rainstorm? On the night of the first high school football game. Instead of enjoying a wonderful, pleasant evening cheering for my grandson’s team, I was watching the game on the computer. We had a couple of other rainy Fridays, and I did a lot of griping about the weather.

Complaining about the weather isn’t limited to sports fans. Gardeners worry about a lack of rain or are concerned about too much moisture. I really feel sorry for farmers who depend on the weather for their living. It is a tough profession; you need moisture at just the right time. Then at harvest time, you don’t want rain.

This has been a strange weather year. We had a mild winter and a frigid spring, with snow in May. Summer was pleasant until the past two weeks, when it turned very hot. While it was warm last Friday night, it was a tolerable night for high school football.

While modern meteorology is a relatively new science its roots can be traced back to the ancient Babylonians, who were the first to begin to try to predict climate changes. Aristotle wrote a book on weather in 340 A.D. and his ideas were used for centuries, although experts said many of his theories were wrong.

Weather forecasting began its journey toward being a science in the Renaissance era. Galileo developed the first thermometer in 1592 and Evangelista Torricelli invented the barometer in 1643.

Santiorio Santoria developed the first scale of temperatures, but it wasn’t until 1724 that Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit announced he had set the point of freezing at 32 degrees. In 1742, Anders Celsius came up with a new scale setting the freezing at 0 degrees. The Celsius system is widely used in Europe and confuses American tourists. I remember once we were checking the forecast on one of our trips to Europe in the summertime. Jean was shocked when she heard the temperatures would be in the 20’s. After being concerned that she hadn’t packed a coat she realized that the 20’s in Celsius would be very warm.

In the 1800s, the development of the telegraph made weather forecasting easier. People could get news of the progress of storms and predict local weather.

There are many instances when weather changed the course of history. Twice China in the 13th century sent huge fleets to conquer Japan, and in both instances, typhoons wrecked the attackers’ ships. In 1588, the Spanish Armada sailed toward England. A change in the winds gave a major advantage to the English and the Armada was sunk. Gen. Eisenhower worried about weather conditions leading up to the D-Day attack on Europe.

We are fortunate today to have modern radar and other safeguards that allow meteorologists to track and report weather conditions. Certainly, we are told many times about approaching storms and dangerous weather. While we like to gripe about their accuracy rate, I really believe they are very close most of the time. Predicting weather can be a very daunting task.

Personally, I would like a typical fall with pleasant weather and sufficient rain. Well, sufficient rain, but not on football nights.


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