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    Dark Day In Detroit

         October 19, 1762 was a day of nearly total darkness in Detroit, Michigan.  Daybreak that day never really came.  Darkness enveloped the city until there was about a 15 minute brightening at approximately 9:00 when the sun could be seen.  It was three times larger than normal and blood red in color.  The atmosphere was yellow-green in color and was thick.  Candles had to be lit when time came for the mid-day meal.  The darkness became even greater at 3:00 p.m. and continued to increase until 3:30 when a southwest wind brought some rain.  However, the rain brought a strong, nearly suffocating smell of sulfur, and the raindrops appeared like a combination of sulfur and dirt.  After the shower of rain, the air cleared somewhat.

     

    New England's Famous Dark day

         Although New England experienced several times when there was unusual darkness during the day, the most famous of these dark days was that of May 19, 1780.  The first reports of this unusual darkness came from southwestern Vermont.  By 9:00 a.m., the darkness became noticeable at Boston, Massachusetts.  Between 10:00 and 11:00, the clouds took on a yellow color which the entire landscape reflected.  When 1:00 came, candles had to be lit and were kept burning the rest of the afternoon.  Newspapers were difficult to read even outdoors.  Birds began roosting thinking night had come.  One person noted that there was an odor of a "malt-house or coal-kiln".  Rain which fell that day was thick, black and sooty.  When analyzed, the rainwater was found to have the residue of burned leaves in it.  Apparently, forest fires far to the west were the cause of this phenomenon.

     

    It's Raining Toads

         On a hot summer day in 1794 at Lalain, France, a heavy shower of rain began to fall.  With the rain came also an abundant shower of toads approximately the size of hazelnuts.  Men of the grand guard could feel these toads landing on their hats and clothing.  Following this shower, the men?s three-cornered hats were found to have some toads in their folds.

         Another fall of toads occurred at Jouy, France in June of 1833 during a shower of rain.  The toads were said to be about as numerous as the raindrops, and they fell over an area of approximately 1200 feet. 

     

    Rain From a Clear Sky

         Although there were clouds to the east and west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 23, 1800, there were no clouds over the city, and the stars shown clearly.  Yet, a rain shower lasting about 20 minutes occurred.  Another such instance took place at Harvard, Massachusetts in the morning of November 13, 1833.  This was a very light shower of rain, but there were no clouds to be seen.

     

                               Strange Fall of Ice in 1818

         On July 24, 1818, a strange fall of ice occurred in the Orkney Islands, Scotland.  Jagged ice pieces up to one foot long fell, and, when they melted, they emitted a sulfurous odor.

     

    Tornado Heat

         A tornado accompanied by extreme heat hit Monville, France on August 19, 1845.  Not only did this tornado throw down trees, but the trees that were downed were torn apart and had their sap dried up for a length of up to 20 feet and over.  When people attempted to rescue those trapped beneath rubble of buildings, they found that the bricks were "burning hot?.  Wooden planks from buildings were charred, iron and steel pieces were magnetized, and cotton in the area was scorched and even burned.  People who saw the tornado from a distance claimed that the factories it destroyed were engulfed in flames before the tornado moved over them.  Other people who had been tossed into nearby fields said there were bright flashes of lightning and a smell of sulfur, and some of the dead bodies showed signs of a burning effect.   

     

    Hailstones Come in All Shapes

         Hailstones shaped like sugar cubes covered the ground in one location of Germany on July 2, 1873.

         Round, clear hailstones with 5 knobs on them at equal distances from each other fell at Partenkirschen, Germany on August 21, 1880.  One of the knobs on most hailstones was longer than the others ? like a handle.    

         At Kingston, Jamaica on May 2, 1887, hailstones having the appearance of a thick saucer with a small, handle less cup in the center fell from the clouds.

         Spherical hailstones with raised ridges or rims around them and looking like the Planet Saturn fell at Guildford, England on June 25, 1888.

         On November 28, 1888, hailstones shaped like pyramids and having 4 flat sides and a convex base fell at Edinburgh, Scotland.  The hailstones were transparent but had a lot of water-filled cavities.

         Very unusual hailstones fell at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 1, 1889.  Some hailstones had hexagonal crystals of clear ice projecting from the outer surface of the hailstones.  The crystals had facets on their ends.

         On June 21, 1918 hailstones shaped like starfish fell at King Island, Tasmania.  The largest hailstones were about three inches from point to point, and all these unusual stones appeared to be agglomerates of smaller hailstones.

     

    Tornado Oddities

         At Walterboro, South Carolina on April 16, 1879, a tornado seemed to be in the transplanting business.  It took a hickory tree four and one-half feet in circumference out of the ground and moved it 10 feet up a bank.  This storm also carried potted geraniums in bloom for a distance of one mile and set them down unharmed.

         In Sangamon County, Illinois on May 18, 1883, a tornado showered one family in a cellar with a ?gummy substance?, and this sticky stuff could not be taken off by washing.  It was probably composed of tree sap, for a maple tree one foot in diameter standing near the edge of the tornado's path had all its bark stripped from it for a distance of two feet along its trunk beginning 6 feet from the ground.  Nothing was broken off the tree, and the top of it was not damaged in any way.  This same storm plucked feathers from a flock of geese and deposited the feathers in a hedge.

         A tornado which hit St. Louis, Missouri on May 27, 1896 took a 2x4 pine scantling and drove it completely through a five-eighths inch thick piece of iron on the Eads Bridge, drove wheat straws into a tree trunk to a depth of over 1 inch, hurled a gardener's spade into a tree branch to a depth of 6 inches, and plunged a 6x9 timber four feet straight down into hard ground.  When this same twister came upon a man driving a wagon with a team of horses, it snatched the team of horses away leaving the man and the wagon (except for the wagon tongue) untouched.

         At Fergus Falls, Minnesota, the June 22, 1919 a tornado took a trunk of clothing from one house and put it into the attic of another house two blocks away without damaging the trunk. This same storm wrecked one house so badly it was not safe to enter, but a buffet full of dishes was moved two feet from the wall of that house without one dish being broken.  The tri-state tornado of March 18, 1925 put a 2x3 inch piece of wallpaper edgewise into a box elder tree.  A five ton Caterpillar tractor at Hutchinson, Kansas was turned and rolled 500 feet by a tornado on May 7, 1927.  Another tornado at Gothenberg, Nebraska tore two concrete blocks weight one ton each from their moorings and moved them several feet.  When a tornado at Moorhead, Minnesota hit the Empire Builder train on May 27, 1931, the tornado picked up an 83 ton coach car with 117 passengers in it, carried it through the air, and put it down 80 feet away in a ditch - one passenger thrown through a window of the coach and crushed beneath the coach.  A courthouse bell which was almost one ton in weight was taken for a 350 yard ride by a tornado at Gainesville, Georgia on April 6, 1936.

         In Shreveport, Louisiana a February, 1950 tornado destroyed one house but left the floor intact with a china cabinet full of dishes untouched on it.  At Scottsbluff, Nebraska on May 30, 1951 a tornado put a bean an inch deep into an egg but did not crack the eggshell.    

     

                                                   Copyright ? 2006 Ronald Hahn. All Rights Reserved.