Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

My own experience on this interesting and all-important question is somewhat as follows: In looking over the records of a long series of years for different sections of North America, I observe undoubted waves of like weather, such as cool and wet and warm and dry years, cold and snowy and mild and open winters. These periods are not of like dura. tion, nor are they situated at equidistant intervals of time. Our chapter on “Weather Cycles" will demonstrate this fully. I note, further, that single, and what are termed “exceptional,” years are of very exceptional occurrence, and are in general separated by long intervals of time. We are, for instance, all familiar with such expressions as “ The oldest inhabitant does not remember so severe a winter in the past forty years;" “Such heat has not been experienced since the year 18%;" “ This is the heaviest snowfall on record here.” Such statements would seem to indicate that something out of the usual run had happened, something unexpected and remarkables

Concerning these single and exceptional years I can come to no valuable conclusions. They dot the page of history at long and ever-varying intervals, and have occurred according to the fiat

Him who governs all things. They never can be predicted.

Next in frequency come couplets of similar years in regard to weather. These are of very much more frequent occurrence, but they do not appear to come round in any regular order. At one time I thought that cycles of ten years would “hit off” the majority of these couplets of years, but in this, I now see, no absolute dependence can be placed. Of still more frequent occurrence are the triads of years of like weather. These would appear to come round in something like more regular intervals during considerable periods of time, but again I notice other periods of great irregularity.

In view, then, of the foregoing facts, I have come to the conclusion that neither fixed rules, such as those just given, nor numerical calculations, will ever enable us to arrive at any tangible or certain method whereby the weather of seasons may be foretold.

But in arriving at this conclusion I did not sit down with folded hands and give up once and for all the weather question. No. If, I asked myself, the weather of years cannot be predicted for years in advance, why cannot we prognosticate for the couplets and triads of years as we first enter these? On this investigation I entered in the year 1875, when, after due reflection and a lengthened comparison, I sketched out the wet and open winter of 1876 in Canada, which proved so remarkable a « hit." This was based upon the belief that we had then entered a couplet of mild and open years, as afterward proved to be the case. In like manner, and upon the same principle, in the autumn of 1879 I predicted for 1880, '81, and '82 winters of deep snow and cold, with intensely hot summers intervening. This was my first general prediction, and its correctness—as far as the period has progressed—has been amply testified to, although we have yet to experience what 1882 may bring forth.

In like manner, I, from this early standpoint, predict for 1883 and 1884 a couplet of years of great rainfall, with mild and open winters again.

Of course, the great difficulty connected with such a system of weatherprognostication lies in the ability of the student to hit off the recurring couplet or triad of years he has entered upon. For this no definite rules can be laid down, but past experience has to be called into play and every aspect of the question most minutely looked into. As I work I have constantly in my mind's eye the past histories of a long chain of winters and summers, with all their ups and downs. I note how the law of general compensation, both as to temperatures and precipitation, has been carried out. I pass in review a thousand or more minor details impossible to mention in order here, but all useful in their bearings upon the weather to come. I from time to time establish facts, which are afterward used as centres or points upon which to base my forecasts. In short, by unceasing observation I am intuitively informed of the general character of approaching weather, and the more definite and strong my impressions, the more confident am I that what I foresee will occur. Whether these remarks be looked upon as mere assertions or not is a matter of indifference to me at present. My argument or defence must rest in my successes and the acknowledgment of these by the public.

It has just been stated that certain facts, when established, are used as bases upon which forecasts are constructed. By this I mean that from time to time it is suddenly discovered that relationships exist between certain meteorological phenomena at very widely-separated points of our country. This relationship is judged of or determined by a close study and comparison of the weather-histories of the past twenty-five or fifty years for North America. Whether such relationships are or are not to continue cannot be possibly stated at the present stage of our investigation, but that they have existed in the past, and do exist at the present time, there remains no manner of doubt. One or wo of these may be mentioned here by way of illustration.

During some of the most severe winter weather at Quebec, Montreal, and Ottawa we, in the majority of instances, hear of very open and mild weather along the Labrador coast and through Newfoundland, and, on the other hand, severe and hard winters in many cases there, while remarkably open and mild weather is enjoyed in Montreal. Again, we

!

1

seldom have to record a wet season simultaneously for the North-west and the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario. On the contrary, very often, while they are suffering from drought in Canada and bordering States of the Union, Manitoba is growling over incessant rainfalls.

Yet again, I have noticed a relationship between the midsummer frosts in Canada and the hurricanes and cyclones of the Western and South-western States. Presuming upon the existence of such a relationship, I was successful in anticipating and predicting the storm and cyclone period of the ộth, 7th, and 8th of June last (1880) in the West, previously having predicted, on another principle, the frosts which occurred in Canada and New York State on the same dates.

In like manner, advanced frosts and snowfalls in Canada have their bearing upon dissimilar weather-conditions in other sections of North America, which may thus be predicted successfully.

Another case in point has just been brought before my notice while penning this article. News from a very northerly point-namely, Cape Chidleigh, situated ten miles to the northward of Cape Farewell, in the both circle of north latitude-informs me that the winter of 1881 in that direction was one of the mildest on record, the “oldest inhabitant" failing to recall to mind any winter less rigorous. During this same period Canadians and the inhabitants of a large portion of the United States were being held in the merciless grip of a very severe winter. Such weather-conditions I have observed and noted before; and I may here state that in general they indicate a mild winter for the year following throughout Canada and the Northern and Middle United States. The existence of mild and open weather in the northern regions is generally conveyed to me by the non-appearance of several species of our northern birds in the general autumn migration. For instance, the arrival in the autumn of an unusual number of snow-owls and ptarmigan (white grouse) is a sure indication of-not always severity, but—heavy snows in northern latitudes, while the almost entire absence of such birds in the fall and winter months bespeaks, for the same parts, a mild and open winter, with moderate snowfalls. It may be further noted here that it is not the severity of the winters in the North that drives these birds southward-for what cold could hurt the snow-owl or ptarmigan, clothed or feathered as they are ?—but rather scarcity of food, caused by the ground and shrubs being buried under deep snows. Again and again hare I clipped paragraphs from our daily papers predicting the approach of a severe season, simply on the strength of the early arrival, in unusual num. bers, of such birds as have been alluded to, and again and again have I flatly and successfully contradicted these predictions, knowing well that

[ocr errors]

the occurrence of an early and severe belt of weather in the northern regions was, or in the past had been, almost invariably followed by a rather mild and open winter throughout the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada and the Middle and Northern United States.

Further, as regards this new theory of “weather-relationships," a case in point is at present occurring in the hurricanes reported on the Atlantic on the 26th, 27th, and 28th days of August (1881), and which I gave notice of as far back as the 12th of July. This prediction was based upon the storm-and-cyclone period of the 29th and 30th of June (1881), it having been observed from past records of our weather that disturbances upon these latter dates have almost invariably been followed by similar disturbances along the northern Atlantic and British coasts in the neighborhood of the 25th and 26th days of the month of August. I might multiply these examples of weather-relationships, but space will not permit, and sufficient has already been written to give a clue to one of my systems of working or prognosticating. Whether or not this method may be said to come under the term “scientific” is of but trivial consequence, so long as it assists us to come to correct conclusions respecting the future; and I may add, in concluding, that I am acquainted with men, whose opinion in weather-matters is entitled to our greatest respect and confidence, to whom the word “science' is a perfect enigma.

METEOROLOGY, or modern weather-science, is not much more than a quarter of a century old, and dates from the employment of the telegraph in transmitting reports from different places of the state of weather existing at them at the same time. The word itself, however, is old, since it was used by Aristotle some three hundred years B. C. to name a treatise on water and earthquakes. It does not come, as some suppose, from the meteors or falling stars, but from the Greek words meteoros, ing," and logos, a “discourse.” As a science it is of endless practical utility, not only in commerce, engineering, and agriculture, but also in pleasure-seeking

soar

It is not many years since the study of the weather was considered a very vain pursuit. The wandering gales were either believed to obey no laws, or they had laws which it was hopeless to try to find out. Far otherwise is the view of educated people to-day; and those who make a special study of the subject assure us that only time, observation, and thought are necessary to enable us to comprehend the processes of the atmosphere, and to a certain extent predict the coming weather.

[ocr errors]

HOW THE CALENDAR WAS MADE. The word “almanac” is derived from the Arabic al, being the definite article, and manah, a verb meaning to “reckon.” The great importance given to divination by means of the stars in Eastern countries in early times must have led to the construction of tables somewhat similar to those in our almanacs.

In the construction of an almanac—or rather that portion of it called a “calendar”—the divisions of time that naturally would suggest them. selves would be the solar day, lunar month, and solar year; and, in fact, these divisions were recognized as far back as can be traced.

The subdivision of the day into twenty-four hours is also very ancient, although there was no uniformity as to the manner of computation. The ancient Egyptians, whose example in this respect is commonly followed to-day, commenced the civil day at midnight, and reckoned twelve hours before and twelve after noon-time. Astronomers, however, for the sake of convenience in computation, number the whole twenty-four hours, beginning at midday. The Chaldeans and modern Greeks have chosen sunrise for the commencement of the day, and the Italians, Bohemians, and others, sunset.

The arbitrary division of the week into seven days, although not recognized by the Greeks, and not introduced at Rome until about the year 400, dates back into the remotest antiquity in Eastern nations, being especially noticeable in the Mosaic record.

The earliest division of the year into months comprised twelve lunations of about 2972 days each, making the year 354 days. This division had the very inconvenient result of transporting the beginning of the year to different seasons; and so, very early in the history of calendars, various expedients were adopted to make the months conform with the exact length of the year.

The Egyptians made the month 30 days exactly, and added 5 supplementary days at the end of the year. They kept no count of the addi. tional quarter day and more, and thus the commencement of the year went back a little more than a day in every four years. Hence 1461 Egyptian years are equal to 1460 years of 3654 days each.

The Greeks divided the month into three periods, as subsequently was done by the French for a short time.

The Roman division was most confusing and unscientific. The month had three epochs, named the calends, nones, and ides. The calends were the first days of the month; the ides began either on the thirteenth or fifteenth day; while the nones began on the ninth day before the ides.

a

« AnteriorContinuar »