The Gathering Storm – “A Shower of Fishes”

  • Neil M. Coleman


May of 1889 had unusual weather. The earliest recorded formation of an Atlantic hurricane (up to that time) occurred on May 20th. Less than a month later another hurricane was born. Between these events a low-pressure system developed in the western plains and quickly moved east, pulling in additional warmth and moisture from the south and the Atlantic Coast. Large lateral gradients in temperature and pressure developed, rapidly strengthening the storm. The weather system caused damage over large regions of the northeastern U.S. and especially ravaged Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York State. Unintentional cloud seeding from the smoky industries in Johnstown may have enhanced local precipitation in 1889; perhaps also in 1936 and 1977.

“Great floods have flown from simple sources…”

—William Shakespeare, ironically from the play All’s Well that Ends Well, Act II


Johnstown flood 1989 Hurricane Storm damage Weather bureau Greely Signal corps Neil Coleman 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil M. Coleman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Energy and Earth ResourcesUniversity of Pittsburgh at JohnstownJohnstownUSA

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