Weathering the Storm
In 1815, a volcanic eruption in Indonesia sent enough ash into the sky to disrupt weather across the globe for the next year. In New England, 1816 became known as “The Year Without a Summer.” Snow fell throughout June and July. Temperatures swung wildly. Crops and animals died. According to one diarist, the 4th of July saw “ice as thick as window glass” as far south as Pennsylvania. Tens of thousands of people picked up and left; their search for greener pastures in Indiana and Illinois became the first chapter in a larger story of westward expansion.
This week on BackStory, we tackle weather in its strangest and scariest permutations. How have Americans thought about extreme weather through history, and how has the weather shaped our history? What kinds of disaster responses have been useful and which ones have been, well, disastrous? And how much of a natural disaster can we really blame on nature?
Please help us shape this show! Ever moved from one region to another to escape the threat of hurricanes or earthquakes? What do you think we learned (or didn’t learn) from Katrina? How does climate change fit into the picture? And why are disaster movies so compulsively watchable? Share your stories, questions, and ideas below!