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What Was the Weather Like Back Then?

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What Was the Weather Like Back Then?

Two thousand and fourteen marks the 75th anniversary of the dawn of television. In fact, RCA introduced it to the American public on April 30th when it broadcast the opening of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. But critics said it wouldn’t last!

“The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it,” wrote The New York Times that same year.

But how different was our climate 75 years ago than it is today? With 2014 now famously in the weather annals as one of the coldest winters (a combination of below average temperatures and duration of the cold) on record, and the debate about and repercussions of climate change dripping from every other headline today, what did we experience back then? How did we cope without the ubiquitous use of air conditioning and often central heating, and did our climate really warrant them? In a pre-climate change world, just how different was the weather then than it is today?

According to history, and in many ways like our most recent winter, the winter of 1939-40 was the coldest on record in 45 years — or some records say in more than 100 years. The latter half of December experienced an anticyclone (large scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure), with resulting frost and fog, producing what some weather pundits have called another Little Ice Age in Northern Europe — similar to the more recognized one that lasted from the 16th to 19th centuries.

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Easily the most catastrophic climate conditions in the U.S. in the 1930s produced the infamous Dust Bowl, which is reported to have impacted 19 states. Research reveals that unstable sea surface temperatures — cooler than normal Pacific Ocean temperatures and warmer than normal tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures, creating shifts in weather patterns — resulted in arid air and high temperatures in the Midwest. Severe, sustained dust storms and drought, also due to overfarmed and overgrazed land, caused the loss of many millions of dollars’ worth of crops. Reportedly 400,000 people were displaced: forced to leave their homes and become migrant workers as they battled starvation.

During hurricane season (June 12 to November 7, 1939), six tropical storms struck the eastern U.S. and outlying areas including Jamaica, northeast of Puerto Rico, and Cuba, one becoming extratropical when it impacted Newfoundland. Two of these became actual hurricanes. Interestingly, another tropical storm — the 1939 Long Beach Tropical Storm, aka El Cordonazo/The Lash of St. Francis — was the only one to make landfall in California in the 20th century. Resulting floods killed 45 individuals in southern California, with 48 more killed at sea.

Though people faced their share of climate challenges, it didn’t prevent them from flocking to the August 25th premiere of “The Wizard of Oz” and, just in time for the holidays, on December 15th “Gone with the Wind” held its sparkling, star-studded premiere — both also celebrating their diamond anniversaries this year.

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1 Edwina Dhillon { 06.04.16 at 10:16 am }

Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such magnificent info being shared freely out there.

2 Rashad Guetierrez { 05.29.16 at 4:15 am }

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

3 visit this site { 04.20.16 at 5:59 am }

I was pretty sad when I got to the Namco Bandai booth however and found out they only brought their fighting games to be played there, which I didn’t bother to try. No, not Pixar standard yet, but Rio will more than do for now. Not only, the traditional games but the table games have also been fascinating mankind for years on end.
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4 official site { 04.20.16 at 5:43 am }

To reach the highest level of individual’s choice of video and computer games, a lot of alterations have been done. The Sony Play – Station Two is Sony’s second computer game console, the successor to the original Sony Play – Station, and the predecessor to the Sony Play – Station Three. The overall game is based on strategy and has good graphics, courtesy of the Unreal Engine.
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5 aka mongo { 08.08.15 at 8:07 pm }

this is misleading. Global climate chaos means getting hot weirdly, getting cold weirdly, scientists say we go into oven or have ice age, won’t know till earth does it. volcanos in 1993-95 caused a no-summer in 1993 in vermont. In those days they might not have even known if volcanos were going off enough to affect temperatures. Do not be fooled by deniers propaganda. Notice no science in this, just loose associations for deniers to pin together to get you to delay yet more the awful truth that things are messed up and require big thinking and big action. you won’t get either from climate change deniers and stockholders in fossil fuels. Do not be fooled

6 Janet { 04.24.14 at 12:05 am }

That is so true, Tom.

7 Tom { 04.23.14 at 12:55 pm }

The more thing’s change, the more they stay the same.

8 John slape { 04.23.14 at 10:46 am }

I’ve always known that the weather was just as extreme back then, used to listen to my elders talk about how bad or how much snow they had when they were kids and I,m 72. Don’t believe it’s changed much and you gotta remember they dealt with it with none of the convenices that we have.

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