Meteorologist Charles Stockton to his brother Edmund, September 1853

October 13 – The full moon may cause some instances of wer’d wolves

Edmund-

I write with grave news concerning the upcoming forecast of weather in your area. My reading of the Farmer’s Almanac suggests your town may be in for a grave storm, flooding, and winds of great force. The Almanac says it should hit some time in the next fortnight, but I think it may come sooner.

By using this new science of weather forecasting, I have determined your particular borough will be most sodden on or around Tuesday. The forecast has been scientifically determined by studying the changing pitch of bird call in the area, coupled with an increase in the number of clouds that look like horses. Most terrifying is the handful of chaff I threw in the air yesterday, which landed in a pattern not seen since Van Buren’s Blizzard. The portents are most disconcerting.

Please, do be safe on Tuesday. Of course, this letter may not reach you until after then. If that is the case, I hope you’re OK. Also, this science is inexact, so technically the storm may be tomorrow. Or now. Or maybe it already happened. Just to be safe, assume there is always a terrible storm wherever you are. Bring galoshes.

Sincerely,

Charles

Analysis:

With the unparalleled devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, many have looked to the past to understand how people knew massive, destructive storms were coming if nobody was tweeting about it. That question in mind, we turned to history, one of the major sources of the past, and found this letter, which reveals that historical people were majorly screwed.

“Think about the pigeons or subway rats. It was that level of ignorance,” said letter historian and Professor Lackingmeritus of Dashofnutmeg University (open only for 3 weeks every December) Mark Pulham on a phone call from his submarine office.

Of course, our historical weather research at the Weather Archives in Montauk, Long Island has revealed that giant storms like Hurricane Sandy didn’t really happen 150 years ago because we hadn’t fucked up the environment yet.

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