In an age of ready access to digital information, it seems that people have removed their brains and put them in storage someplace. Or just discarded them altogether. And even those who are old enough to have experience that belies their “OMG THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE THE WORLD IS GOING TO END!!!!” squawking still go on and squawk anyway.
As I wished that both the wind and the commentators would stop blowing, it was niggling at me that I remembered a year when I was at WVU that we had this weather day after day – long enough that there were several feet of ice on the river. Ducks, unable to feed because of the ice, were starving to death. They would sit on the ice, which then melted somewhat under them. Without strength to move, they died, and the ice would then refreeze around their feet. The river surface was dotted with their bodies, and some of us started hauling feed down to the bank so some would have a chance.
A bit of on-line digging turned up the date – the Winter of 1976-1977. The cold was so deep and so extended that the Chesapeake Bay froze. And that wasn’t the first time. A little more digging turned up a paper about Maryland weather that details weather in the state since the first written records. That works for me – I’m just next door and I have lived all my life in either West Virginia or Maryland.
One of the major failings of the Chicken Little crew is that they have no concept of time. I don’t mean as in telling time. I mean as in how insignificant the length of their lives and their perception of normal is to the age of the earth, and therefore how insignificant their perceptions of climate are. To put it in perspective, the first documented work in weather observation appears in 340 BC with Aristotle’s Meteorologica. In America, the first systematic observations were done in Delaware in 1644. As far as government science agency observations, what would become the National Weather Service made its first observations at 24 stations in November of 1870.
So. We can take 2354 years, 370 years, or 144 years as the length of time we have weather records for, depending on if you want Greece (representing world), private North American, or U.S. government observations. The value currently held for the age of the earth is 4.5 billion years. That means, if I did this right, we’ve been measuring climate for 0.0000523 %, 0.00000822%, or 0.000000032 % of the earth’s history. If I did it wrong, it’s an itty bitty number no matter which way you look at it. So when some weather dude/dudet yaps that it's "the coldest/warmest since records have been kept" it needs to be remembered that that’s the percentage amount of the earth's history for which we have anything like weather observations. And our commentators are only referring to government records (144 years) and the U.S.
Back to Maryland. The fossil record in the state starts in the Paleozoic, which lasted from 541 to 252 million years ago. It runs the gamut of creatures from warm weather to cold. Sometimes there were critters like crocodiles and dinosaurs:
And sometimes cold weather fans wandered there:
But if you want to fast forward into recorded Maryland weather, I found this with a little digging around, courtesy of James Dawson in 2008. If your read it carefully, it becomes obvious that it has been very hot. And it’s been very cold. And pretty much everything in between. The whole paper is an interesting read at http://www.unicornbookshop.com/pdf/md-weather-summary.pdf and is only 13 pages. I've pulled the chronological list, highlighting stuff I find of particular interest or that I specifically remember:
c. 13,000- 11,000 B.C.E., at the end of the last Ice Age, the Younger Dryas climate change rendered Delmarva uninhabitable for nearly 2,000 years due to severe dust storms, much sediment laid down. No evidence of human habitation found during this period. Chesapeake Bay created.Maryland is a small state, but neither this:
?, Native Americans said that Sharps and Tilghman Islands were once very close together, probably they were once both part of Bay Hundred peninsula in Talbot Co. and were later cut off by storms and erosion
1586, hurricane moves up coast, hail stones the size of hens eggs off Roanoke, Va.
1634, very mild winter
1635, extremely cold winter
1635, Aug. huge hurricane moves up coast, no specific reports from Maryland
1649, Jan. 3, Maryland's first recorded coastal storm noted by Henry Norwood, many inlets cut through along coast including probably the one at Fenwick, Del.
1667, Sept. 6, “The Dreadful Hurry Cane of 1667", hits Virginia and Maryland, many trees down. “A mighty wind destroyed four-fifths of our tobacco and corn and blew down in two hours fifteen thousand houses in Virginia and Maryland.”
1683, Aug. 23, hurricane
1693, Oct. 29, violent storm moves up coast
1703, Oct. 18, hurricane moves up coast, much damage, vessels lost
1706, Nov. 6, severe storm
1724, Aug. 23, "Great Gust of 1724" hits Bay
1727, "Great Rain and Horrible Gale of 1727"
1729, "Great Gale of 1729"
1743, Sept., coastal storm tracked by Ben Franklin showing storms can move in a direction different from their winds
1749, Oct. 19, huge offshore hurricane, tides 15 feet above normal in Bay
1752, Oct. 22, hurricane hits mouth of Bay
1756, winter, Bay freezes
1769, Sept. 7- 8, hurricane causes much damage to Bay areas
1775, Sept. 2-3, "Independence Hurricane" heavy rains and much damage along coast, dome blown off of State House in Annapolis.
1779-1780, one of the coldest winters ever, Bay freezes over down to mouth of Potomac, ice 6 inches thick, carts and carriages cross Bay from Annapolis to Poplar Island
1784, Bay freezes, Baltimore harbor closed until March 19
1785, Sept. 22- 24, "most tremendous gale known in this century" hits lower Bay, very high tides
1788, July 23- 24, violent hurricane hits lower Bay
1795, Aug., hurricane, heavy rains
1804, bad storn
1805, Jan. 11, bad ice storm in St. Michaels (Talbot Co.)
1805, cold winter, Bay frozen Feb. 3, vessels trapped in ice, people walk to shore
1805, July 9, 96° in Easton (Talbot Co.) the highest temp. in memory
1806, May and early June, army worms devastate wheat fields
1806, Aug., great coastal hurricane
1812, violent storm off coast thought to have prevented British attack of Worcester Co.
1813, bad storm
1814, very hot summer
1815, bad tropical storm
1816, "Year With No Summer" due to atmospheric dust from volcanic eruptions, coldest summer in Maryland history, frost and ice common, farmers wore overcoats and gloves during the July wheat harvest.
1817, weather back to normal
1821, Sept. 3, hurricane- eye passed directly over Norfolk, Va., much damage to coast, heavy rain inland to Baltimore
1825, June, dreadful storm, a geologist taking core samples stated that this storm created Fishing Bay and eroded much of Phillips Creek in Dorchester Co.
1828, bad storm
1830, bad storm
1833, Nov. 12-13, one of the most spectacular meteor storms ever seen. It was estimated that hundreds of thousands were seen over a period of a few hours. Harriet Tubman in Dorchester Co. remembered it as the night the stars fell, slaves, and many white folks,too, thought the world was ending.
1834, bad storm
1839, bad storm
1841, bad storm
1846, "Great Hurricane of 1846", much destruction, s.e. winds drive water into Bay, flooding
1850, bad storm
1851, Aug. 24-25, "Appalachicola Storm" hits northern Chesapeake Bay
1852, very cold winter, railroad tracks laid on ice across Susquehanna River at Havre de Grace (Harford Co.) and used for over a month
1854, Sept. 9, destructive hurricane "Horrible Gale of '54", much damage
1856, Aug. 19, "Charter Oak Storm", heavy rains
1856, Sept. 1, hurricane
1861, Oct. 28, hurricane
1861, Nov. 2, "Expedition Hurricane" batters lower Bay
1862, June, a “celebrated down pour” swept away mill dams in Caroline Co., Md.
1869, driest year on record to date statewide, Ellicott City (Howard Co.) flooded
1870, June 2, “Blackberry Storm” hits Talbot Co., cold, high winds asnd rain.
1872, winter, ice damages Love Point Light
1872, Oct. 25, heavy rains
1874, Sept. 28- 29, first hurricane ever shown on a weather map hits mouth of Bay
1876, April 1, violent storm strikes Tilghman’s Island (Talbot Co.)
1876, Sept. 16-17, hurricane "Centennial Storm" heavy winds and rain, tides 7.9 feet above normal at D. C., Sharps Island cut in two, terrible cyclone hits Easton (Talbot Co.)
1877, Oct. 3- 4, severe hurricane wrecks ships
1877, Jan., Hoopers Straight Light damaged by ice
1878, Oct. 22-23, severe hurricane "Gale of '78" moves up coast, big storm surge in Bay, much damage,barometric pressure 28.78, steamer Express sank near Pt. Lookout, 16 dead, one of Bay’s worst disasters.
1879, winter, ice damages several lighthouses
1879, bad storm
1880, hottest year on record to date
1881, Feb. 11, ice floe sheared Sharps Island lighthouse from foundation and carried it 5 miles with keepers inside
1881, bad storm
1882, Sept. 22- 23, bad storm, heavy rains
1882, Bloody Point Light damaged by ice
1884, winter, ice damages Seven Foot Knoll Light
1885, Feb. 25, Choptank River frozen over and probably other rivers as well
1885, Aug. 25, heavy rains and flooding
1886, rare June-July hurricane
1887, bad storm
1888, March 11-12, "Blizzard of 1888" or "The Great White Hurricane" paralyzes east coast, Maryland 10 inches of snow or less
1888, Aug. 21 - 22, hurricane, flooding and several deaths, tornado tracked from D.C. To Kent Co. where it killed 11 people, 4 waterspouts seen in Bay.
1888, Sept. 10, bad tropical storm passes over Bay, flooding
1889, April 6- 7, storm moves up coast
1889, Sept. 8-12, hurricane stalled off the coast causing severe flooding esp. in Federals- burg (Caroline Co.) and Ocean City (Worcester Co.) which was evacuated.
1893, Jan. 1, rain and a s.e. gale breakes up ice and drives it up the Bay
1893, Aug. 28, "Sea Islands Hurricane", heavy winds and rain in Bay area, tide in Chester River surged 9 feet above mean low tide, higher then in 1876.
1893, Oct. 13, severe winds and much damage, story surge at Chestertown (Kent. Co. 8 inches higher than in Aug., bridges washed out in Tilghman’s Island (Talbot Co.)
1893, winter, ice damages several lighthouses, temperature in Easton (Talbot Co.) -9°
1894, winter, ice damages Seven Foot Knoll Light
1894, Sept. hurricane hits mid Atlantic, much damage and flooding.
1894, Oct., intense hurricane, much flooding and damage to Worcester Co. and coastal areas
1896, Jan. 7, up to 22.5 inches of snow
1896, Aug. 21, bad storm, 17 dead
1896, Sept. 28- Oct. 3, hurricane, one of Western Md’s most destructive storms.
1896, Oct. 11 -13, bad tropical storm
1897, bad storm
1897, July 26, 14.75 inches of rain fell in Jewell (Anne Arundel Co.), a state record
1898, July, first time the temp. reaches 100º in Easton (Talbot Co.) since official record keeping began in 1892.
1899, Feb. 9- 13, cold wave, below zero temperatures across the state from -4° in Ocean City (Worcester Co.), and -15° in Easton (Talbot Co.) to -26° in Garrett Co.,10 inch thick ice on Bay
1899, Feb. 13, up to 21.4 inches of snow, and unofficial depths of over 3 feet common, entire state snowbound, said to be most snow in Easton (Talbot Co.) in 19th century, total snow for Easton 50.3 inches, month total for Easton 65.5 inches
1899, bad storm
1900, Aug. 100º in Easton (Talbot Co.)
1901, Sept. 16- 18, northeaster sinks vessels in Bay
1901 -1902 winter, total 174.9 inches of snow for season in Deer Park (Garrett Co.), a state record
1902, two tropical storms brush by coast, but little damage
1903, Sept. 15- 17, hurricane, said to be worst storm to hit Ocean City (Worcester Co.) in 40 years, hundreds of dead birds stripped of their feathers fall from sky in Old Point Comfort, Va. [or was this the hurricane of Oct. 8-10?]
1903, Oct. 8- 10, bad hurricane causes much damage.
1904, winter, ice damages Point No Point Light
1904, Sept., intense tropical storm with hurricane force winds passes over Delmarva, much damage at Cambridge (Dorchester Co.)
1907, Oct. 5, one or more fireballs in sky surprise Baltimore city residents
1908, Jan. 18, unusual and severe thunderstorm with hail hits Talbot Co.
1909, high tide in St. Michaels (Talbot Co.)
1911, tropocal storm, high tides
1912, Jan. 13, -40° in Oakland (Garrett Co.), lowest temperature ever recorded in Maryland
1912, tropical storm, high tides
1915, Aug. 4., bad tropical storm hits central Maryland and Annapolis causing widespread damage, trees down and crops ruined in Easton (Talbot Co.).
1918, Jan., Bay freezes, several lighthouses damaged by ice, oysters tonged through holes chopped in ice, battleship Ohio used as icebreaker in Bay for wartime shipping
1918, Aug. 6, 105.4° in Baltimore city, and 101º in Easton (Talbot Co.)
1918, big hailstorm hits Trappe (Talbot Co.)
1919, months of heavy rainfall cause much damage in in the Denton-Federalsburg area of Caroline Co.; a locomotive fell through a flood damaged trestle.
1920, Feb. terrific coastal storm batters Ocean City (Worcester Co.) and coast- tides 6.5 feet above normal, inlet cut through at Assateague
1922, Jan 27, "Knickerbocker Storm" up to 26.5 inches of snow in state
1923, bad storm
1924, Aug. 100º in Easton (Talbot Co.)
1925, bad storm
1925 Oct. 20, unusual early snow, 1” in Talbot Co., snow seen on baskets full of tomatoes
1926, Nov. 9, F4 tornado hits La Plata (Charles Co.), Maryland's deadliest tornado, schoolhouse with 60 children inside carried 50 feet,14 children killed, barms demolished, total deaths 17
1928, Aug, 11-12, and 16-17, bad storm batters coast, much rain.
1928, Sept 2, said to have rained frogs in Trappe (Talbot Co.)
1930, July 18- Aug. 10, heat wave- some of the highest temperatures on record. July 21 saw the record temp. for Easton (Talbot Co.) of 104º
1930, drought, yearly average 23.8 inches of rain statewide,17.76 inches of rain fell in Picardy (Allegheny Co.) record for driest place in state, driest year since 1869, Japanese beetle infestation
1931, one of the warmest years on record to date
1932, warmest Jan. on record to date, mild winter
1933, Aug. 23,”Chesapeake and Potomac” hurricane cuts inlet through at Ocean City (Worcester Co.), tides 8 feet above normal, said to be worst coastal storm since 1896. The water completely washes over Deal’s Island and many coffins floated out of their graves, Bay islands submerged, much damage in Salisbury (Wicomico Co.)
1933, Sept. another hurricane hits mid-Atlantic
1934, Feb. record cold month in many areas
1934, March 4, Bay freezes
1934, one of the hottest years on record nationally
1935, severe winter, ice damages Janes Island Light, oyster tonging through holes chopped in ice
1935 Sept. 4-6, “Labor Day Hurricane” floods Eastern Shore, 16.63” of rain in Easton (Talbot County) in three days, severe flood in Federalsburg (Caroline Co.) displaces 2,000 residents, Marshyhope Creek crested at 17.8 feet, highest ever
1936, March, "Great Flood of 1936" or "Morro Castle Storm" inundates many Chesapeake Bay areas, flooding in St. Michaels (Talbot Co.) said to be higher than in storm of 1933
1936, Great Heat Wave of June-July said to be the greatest natural disaster in the US with as many as 5,000 dead, mostly in the midwest; July 10, 109° in Frederick and Cumberland counties, highest temperature ever recorded in Maryland, also record for Baltimore city 107.4°
1936, July 29, severe wind and hail storm hits Easton and Trappe (Talbot Co.) damaging several barns and blowing a car crossing the Choptank bridge into the railing.
1936, Sept., coastal hurricane hits lower Bay.
1936, winter, Bay frozen over, possibly the worst freeze ever
1937, Federalsburg (Caroline Co.) flooded
1938, wettest June on record to date
1938, Sept. 17- 22, "Long Island Express" hurricane moves quickly up coast
1940, Jan. 24, big snow
1940, Oct. 20, unusual early snow, 2” in Talbot Co.
1941, April, warmest April on record to date
1941, Oct., warmest Oct. on record to date
1942, March 29, "Palm Sunday Snowstorm", 31 inches fell in Clear Spring (Washington Co.) in a 24 hour period a state record, up to 22 inches in other places
1942, Federalsburg (Caroline Co.) flooded.
1943, Feb., cold wave
1943, bad storm
1944, July 17, tornado hits Talbot Co. many trees down Easton, two buildings in Trappe seriously damaged, hailstone observed in Trappe 3 inches thick
1944, Sept. 14, Great Atlantic Hurricane
1944, Oct. hurricane, some damage in Bay area
1945, winter, Bay freezes, people walk across Bay from Love Pt. to Poplar Island
1945, July, 20.35 inches of rain fell in Leonardtown (St. Mary’s Co.), state record for one month period
1947, Feb. 19, big snow
1947, Oct., warmest Oct. on record to date
1948, Feb., ice in Bay
1948, 72.59 inches of rain fell in Salisbury (Wicomico Co.), state record for one year period
1949, near record warm year
1949, Feb. warmest Feb. on record to date
1950, Jan., record warm Jan., 80° in Riverdale (Prince George’s Co.)
1950, Nov. tides in middle and upper Bay highest since 1933
1951, Jan. 1 -10 warmest on record to date
1952, July, heat wave
1952, Aug. 31, Ellicott City (Howard Co.) flooded.
1953, Sept, 28, Hurricane Ida dumps excessive rain on lower Bay areas,
1954, Jan. 11 - 12, big snow
1954, Aug. 101° in Royal Oak (Talbot Co.)
1954, three hurricanes in one year, Carol, Edna and Hazel
1954, Oct. 15, Hurricane Hazel, winds over 100 mph, 108 m.p.h in Oxford (Talbot Co.) much damage statewide. Helen Chappell adds” I remember Hazel very well. I also remember going with my father to Hooper's Island a couple of days later, and how the water was still lying on the road, and sheds and houses were blown down, coffins floated up from the graves in Fishing Creek. It was scary. The water came right up to the back porch, filled the fields and blew the tractor shed roof about 500 yards into a field. We lived in a brick house, but we were afraid the roof would blow off. I was about 9 or 10.”
1955, Jan., driest Jan. on record to date
1955, July- Aug., warmest on record to date
1955, Aug. 12- 13, 8.35 inches of rain fell in Baltimore, the city record for 24 hour period
1955, Aug., wettest Aug. on record to date in many areas,18.35 inches in Baltimore, a city record for monthly rainfall 1955, Aug. 12 and 18, two hurricanes in one month Connie and Diane, Connie sank schooner Levin J. Marvel south of Annapolis with loss of 14 passengers. Both hurricanes caused major flooding in Central Md. and Potomac.
1955, Dec., driest Dec. on record to date
1955 or 1956, winter, hard freeze
1956, July 4, 1.23 inches of rain fell in Unionville (Frederick Co.) in 1 minute- the world's record
1958, Feb. 21, big snow said to be worst since 1942
1960, Sept, 10-11, Hurricane Donna "Storm of '60", serious damage in Bay area.
1962, March 6-7, "Storm of the Century" or "Good Friday Storm" or "Ash Wednesday Storm" devastates Ocean City (Worcester Co.) and coast, tides at O.C. were 9.4 feet above normal, two inlets cut through at Assateague, during the storm the famous Chincoteague pony Misty gave birth to a foal who was appropriately named Stormy
1964, Jan. 12. 8 inches of snow in Talbot Co.
1966, Jan 30-31, big snow, said to be up to 25 inches in Talbot County
1966, Sept. 17, 8:47 p.m. huge fireball seen in n.w. sky due to a meteor burning up hundreds of miles away 1967, Sept., Hurricane Doria.
1972, June 21, Hurricane Agnes, 14.68 inches of rain in Western Md., aquatic grasses in Bay dealt a serious blow from runoff and silt
1972, June 23, flooding esp. in Federalsburg (Caroline Co.)
1972, June 11, 47º coldest June in Talbot Co. history
1975, April, very low tide
1975, Sept. 23-26, remnants of Hurricane Eloise causes flooding.
1976, Aug. 1., devastating hailstorm near Trappe (Talbot Co.), hail the size of silver dollars, window panes broken, trees down, corn shredded, hundreds of dead birds foundon ground
1977, cold winter, Bay freezes, ice boat races on Miles River (Talbot Co.), ice floes push Sharps Island lighthouse from vertical, oyster tonging through holes chopped in ice
1978, Feb. 6-7, big snow
1979, Sept. 5-6, Hurricane David spawns tornadoes, Baltimore area sees flash floods.
1983, Feb. 11, up to 22.8 inches of snow
1985, July 25, Hurricane Bob
1985, Sept. Hurricane Gloria, heavy rains
1988, Nov., hurricane Juan, flooding in Southern Maryland
1991, Oct. 31 - Nov. 1., "Perfect Storm" batters coast, also called “Halloween Storm”
1992, Jan. worst northeaster since 1961 damages Ocean City (Worcester Co.) and coast
1992, Hurricane Danielle makes landfall at mouth of Bay
1992, Aug. hurricane Andrew floods central Maryland
1993, March 13, "Super Storm" moves up coast, lowest barometric pressures ever recorded for mid-Atlantic coast: 28.51 in Baltimore city and 28.34 at mouth of Bay, thunder snow observed in Talbot Co.
1993, Nov. 28 very high tide
1994, Jan., very cold with freezing rains in Talbot Co. on the 17th and 27th 1994, Jan. 19, temperatures near zero Talbot County
1994, Feb. 11, severe ice storm moves across southern Maryland and central Eastern Shore, many trees and power lines down
1995, Oct. hurricane Opal spawns tornadoes in Central and Southern Maryland
1996, Jan. 6-7, up to 17 inches of snow, said to be most snow since Blizzard of 1899
1996, Sept. 5, Hurricane Fran, heavy rain and flooding, storm surge 4-6 feet above normal in Bay
1998, June 2, F4 tornado hits Frostburg (Allegheny Co.)
1998, first 11 months warmest on record to date for Md., globally the hottest year on record
1999, July [23?], 101° in Royal Oak (Talbot Co.)
1999, Sept. 16 Hurricane Floyd, the eye passes over Ocean City (Worcester Co.), baro metric pressure 28.88, 10- 14 inches of rain in Talbot Co. and Chestertown (Kent Co.), flood in Federalsburg (Caroline Co.)
2002, April 28, F4 tornado again devastates La Plata, (Charles Co.) strongest tornado ever recorded in Md., 4 dead, debris carried across Bay and dropped in Talbot and Dorchester Counties, La Plata had also been hit by a F4 tornado in 1926
2002, June 6, thunderstorm fells Wye Oak in Wye Mills (Talbot Co.), the state tree was 450 years old
2002, July 6, smoke from huge forest fires in Quebec seen and smelt through Md. and as far south as Va., 2002, drought, worst on record to date
2002- 2003, winter, said to be worst winter in state's history
2003, Feb. 15-17, 49 inches of snow fell in Keysers Ridge (Garrett Co.), state record for most snow in a single storm,
2003, Feb. 19, worst storm in Baltimore city's history, 40 inches of snow in Western Maryland
2003, Feb. 81.5 inches of snow fell in Eagle Rock (Garrett Co.), state record for most snow in one month
2003, Sept. 11, Hurricane Henri, rain and flooding
2003, Sept. 18, Hurricane Isabel, bad storm surge flooding probably equaling that of 1933
2003, wettest year on record 62.79 inches state average, normal is 44”
2004, Sept. 8, Hurricane Francis
2004, Sept. 17, Hurricane Ivan
2004, Sept. 28, Hurricane Jeannie, tornadoes and flooding in central and western Md. 2005, hottest year on record globally
2006, another warm year
2007, first half of year hottest on record globally
2007, Aug. 8, hot spell, John Swaine Jr. weather observer since 1948 said high of 101° in Royal Oak (Talbot Co.) matched that of July [23?] 1999 and Aug. 1954, over night low of 82° broke record,103° in American Corner (Caroline Co.).
2008, June 4, National Weather Service confirms that a tornado touched down briefly near Preston (Caroline Co.), storm damage for county estimated at $500,000
Noteworthy facts: a severe freeze has hit the Bay about once a century: 1780, 1899 and 1977. Extreme contrasts: The winter of 1634 was unusually mild while the winter of 1635 was severely cold. 1898 saw record heat, while 1899 brought record cold. In Jan. 1918, the Bay froze yet that Aug. it was 105° in Baltimore city, then the record. 1935 was very cold, the summer of 1936 had record breaking heat, while the winter of 1936 was severely cold. 2002 was the worst drought on record, yet 2003 was the wettest year on record.
is particularly unusual for it. Or for any other place on the earth - if you don't like the weather, wait a few million years and it will change.