WEDNESDAY, JULY 19 - TROPICAL STORM OF 1850


We sometimes get rain from tropical systems, but strong winds usually don't make it too far inland. But it happens occasionally, and one tropical system was blowing its way through here a century and a half ago today, in 1850.

Piecing together weather events that far back is challenging. We know from newspaper accounts that the storm gave a good lashing to the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, with winds kicking up high waves and pushing tides to flood stage. A weather observer at the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia reported more than 4 inches of rain and "a tremendous gale at night." The Delaware River flooded north of Philadelphia, and several river boats capsized and sank on the Schuylkill.

There was no weather service in 1850, and weather observations were just starting to be spread by telegraph. So this storm was probably a bit of a surprise. That's quite a contrast to today when budding tropical systems are sometimes tracked, literally, from the time they come off the West Coast of Africa.

Pledge | TV12 | 91FM | Education | Community | Underwriting | Fresh Air | Membership

Listen Live! | WHYY Store | About WHYY | Contact Us | WHYY Home