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METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS, &c.
FOR THE YEAR 1810.
THE mild weather which prevailed during the month of December, 1809, continued till the 14th of January. Wallflower, Christmas roses, and polyanthuses, had been out for a fortnight before this date; Indian roses and carnations have continued in flower all winter, in the open borders against south walls. The shoots of bryony, which did not usually appear till April, were already two inches above ground on the 13th of January. The snow-drop was then coming into flower, and the winter aconite ready to expand. The fruit of a jargonelle peartree, near Newhaven, which showed some blossom about the middle of November, was now fairly set, or had begun to swell.
A sharp frost put an end to this unusual weather on the 14th, and it was followed by a heavy fall of snow.
On the morning of the 16th, the snow lay ten inches deep round Edinburgh, and it is supposed that, since the severe winter of 1795, such a large quantity of snow has not fallen in so short a space of time. The snow extended only a little beyond Dunbar, on the great London road, and was but slight at Glasgow.
On the 20th of the month, a very dense frosty mist hung over Edinburgh: The whole spray of the trees and shrubs were elegantly beset with crystals.
A thaw prevailed between the 24th and the 27th, and almost completely removed the snow.
On Tuesday, the 30th of this month, there was a fall of meteoric stones in Caswell county, in the United States. They fell about two o'clock, P. M.: Their descent was seen for a considerable distance round, and two reports were distinctly heard at Hillsborough, a distance of 30 miles.. A fragment of a dark brown colour and porous, and weighing a pound and three quarters, struck a tree where some wood-cutters were at work. The men ran home in great terror, but, encouraged by a woman, they returned with her to the place, and brought away the stone, which was still hot.
From the 27th of last month to the 8th of February, the weather has been mild and pleasant. The crocus is now coming into flower; the flowers of the white coltsfoot (tussilago alba) are expanded: the hazel tree has
shown its catkins, and hepaticas are flowering.
On the 11th, the wind turned suddenly to the east, and the mercury in the barometer fell a whole inch.
On the 13th, a great deal of snow fell, and an intense frost succeeded.
On the evening of the 14th, the mercury in the thermometer fell to 16°, which was lower than it has been since the severe cold in January, 1809.
A thaw began on the 17th, and after the snow and ice had been gradually dissolved, the weather became favourable for agricultural operations.
The weather during this month has been in general favourable for the operations of agriculture, but the frosts during the nights have consiably checked vegetation.
During the first twelve days of this month, the weather has been cold, wet, and ungenial.
About the 18th, the weather became clear and mild, and vegetation advanced rapidly.
On the 23d, swallows were observed for the first time this season.
On the 29th, the call of the male cuckoo was heard for the first time this year.
From the 4th to the 7th of the month, a good deal of snow and hail fell, the wind blowing from the east and north-east. The weather during this month has been cold and ungenial.
On the 5th of this month, between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, a most severe thunderstorm, attended with torrents of rain and hail, passed over Edinburgh, but fortunately no injury was done either in the city or the neighbourhood. A farm-house near Mid Calder was, however, burnt down; and at Glasgow, where the storm commenced about an hour earlier, the lightning struck the fine monument erected to the memory of Lord Nelson, and considerably inju red it. A thunderstorm prevailed also on the same day at London, York, and various parts of England; but it does not seem to have extended to the north of Scotland.
On the 28th, a very brilliant meteor appeared here in the south-west, a little after twelve o'clock at night. It moved rapidly in a north-easterly direction, but was attended with no noise. It resembled a large tun, or hogshead, in size and shape, and along its sides appeared stripes or bands of bright light, which continued a short way beyond the ball, and formed a sort of fringed tail.
On the evening of the 31st, from 8 o'clock till 12, incessant flashes of lightning appeared in the south and south-east parts of the horizon: Sudden falls of rain took place, but no thunder was heard. On the same day, there was a dreadful thunderstorm in various parts of England. It began in London at about half past two o'clock in the morning, and as it was perhaps the most violent and awful ever experienced in this country, we shall give a very full account of it, as described by an eye witness, (Sir H. C. Englefield, Bart.) who was near the spot where it fell and did mischief.
"I was with three friends in a coach, standing at a house where we had supped. The house door was still open, and there was a strong light from a large lustre in the hall, full on the coach, and two very bright lamps at the door of the house. This circumstance was in favour of our seeing the nature of the light distinctly; for had we been in the dark, its excessive brightness would have so dazzled our eyes, as to prevent all distinct vision. As we got into the coach, there was a small mizzling rain, and a very strong flash of distant lightning in the N. E., but no thunder that we could hear. The servants at the door said, there had been much distant lightning for an hour or two. The sky over head appeared very dark, but the lights prevented accurate observation of it. We were just seated in the carriage, and my eyes were directed out of the front window, nearly towards the tree which was struck, but which, however, I could not see. Two of my companions were looking out of the window, towards the house door, from which we were distant five or six feet. We were at once enveloped by an excessively bright diffused blue light, of more than instantaneous duration, which appeared to explode into sparks moving in zigzag lines in all directions. My friends saw them between the carria re and the door, and their motion was so strong, as to make the pillars of the porch appear to vibrate. The whole had very much the effect of what, in artificial fire-works, is called a balloon, which, as it bursts, throws out, from its luminous centre, squibs in all directions. Simultaneous with these zigzag sparks, an astonishingly loud, heavy, and single explosion took place, similar in sound to the discharge of an enormous cannon, di
rectly at us, but incomparably more violent. Theexplosion seemed quite on the ground, and was accompanied by a sensation of a dull concussion, as if a vast weight had fallen from a great height on the soft earth close by us. The sound rose in the air, rolling and echoing for a very long time, much like common thunder.
"Astonishment and terror kept us silent for a little while; we then agreed to quit the coach, and take shelter in the house, the door of which remained open. A few heavy drops of rain then fell. On re-entering the hall, we found the servants standing aghast at the stroke, which had seemed to them to threaten to crush the whole building. A very heavy rain now came on, which lasted for a few minutes. We were all in fearful expectation of another explosion, but nothing followed. The rain ceased, and we set out. As we passed the gate which leads to the palace from Kensington, we stopped, and asked the sentinel what he had seen and felt. He told us, that he could give no distinct account, for that he was dazzled, and nearly stunned by the stroke, and was scarcely himself for a minute or two, but that it seemed to him that a vast cannon had been fired at him. In our way to town, we saw several severe flashes of lightning to the N. W., with very distant thunder; and, by the time we arrived in town, the sky was nearly clear, and the stars very bright.
"The succeeding day was bright sunshine, and for the season extremely hot; the thermometer being 84 in the shade, and free from reflected heat. In the evening, there was a severe thunderstorm, and heavy rain, but which did not cool the air; for both Saturday and Sunday were nearly as hot as Friday, and the nights
uncommonly hot, though very bright starlight. Having been informed, that mischief was done at Kensington palace, by the tremendous flash I had witnessed, I went to view the spot. A large elm in the outer palace-yard, near the guard-house, and about 120 yards from the spot where our carriage stood, was struck in a manner rather uncommon. A main root, about the size of a man's thigh, was blown out of the ground, to the length of twelve feet from the trunk of the tree, and was broken into three pieces. The trunk of the tree was barked at intervals, not in a continued line, and this injury quitted the main stem at the lowest large branch, and followed that branch up to a fork where some decay appeared in the wood. Beyond that, no injury appeared, nor was the main stem or any other branch higher up affected. The whole appearance of the tree, as well as the sensation I felt from the explosion, lead me to think that the shock was from theearth to the passing cloud. The part of the palace directly opposite to the tree, is a long building with large arched windows. In these, 48 panes of glass were broken by the concussion. This building is about 50 yards from the tree.
"The sentinel at the Duke of Sussex's door was knocked down by the shock, and remained, as he said, senseless for some minutes. Another carriage had just quitted the door where we were, and which was perhaps still nearer the tree than we were. The horses stopped short, and remained motionless. The gentleman in the carriage, when he recovered from his surprise, spoke to his coachman, who, as well as the footman, declared themselves stunned and blinded. After a pause of a few minutes, they how ever recovered, and felt no further ill
effects. I have been several times as near mischief in storms as I now was; but I am certain, that I never saw or heard any lightning or thunder which could be at all compared in tremendous severity to this: Indeed it was of a different kind from any other, as the sound was not sharp and crackling, as thunder very near usually is, but deep and heavy. Two of the gentlemen who were with me have been often in the southern parts of Europe, and the Mediterranean, where storms are much more severe than is usual in England; but they agreed with me, that they never had witnessed any thing at all like this. The effect in London, though the nearest part of the town is full two miles from the explosion, was very singular. Almost every body was waked by it, and waked with the idea of a cannon fired close to them. The watchmen in the streets, and the tollman at Hyde Park Corner, described the air as completely on fire, and the tremendous sound as being quite close to them. It is not improbable, that the discharge, whether to or from the cloud, took place in several parts at once. If the account in the papers of a sentinel being struck down near the Horse Guards was true, this must have been the case, and will account for the explosion having been so violent in London."
On the night between the 27th and the 28th of August, a dreadful waterspout descended at Hermajor and its vicinity, in Illyrian Carinthia. The water flowed into the market-place and its neighbourhood to such a height, as to enter the windows of the first floors. More than fifty persons were hurried away by the torrent, without the possibility of receiving assistance. All the bridges and twelve houses were washed away, and a great quantity of cattle perished in the fields.
On the 2d of the month, incessant flashes of lightning, without any thunder, were perceived in the east and south-east part of the heavens.
The weather during the whole of this month was remarkably fine.
The weather during this month was very favourable for the completion of the harvest.
Some strong westerly winds prevailed, and were attended with rain, and a good deal of lightning, without
In consequence of the great degree of warmth which has prevailed during October, several apple trees produced a second show of blossom at the end of the month.
The weather continued mild till the 7th, when the mercury in the thermometer stood at 25°.
The strong easterly gales which prevailed here about the 10th, occasioned great devastation, by raising the tides on the east coast of England. Along the low shores of Lincolnshire, from Wainfleet to Spalding, a distance of about thirty miles, the sea rose so high as to produce a great inundation. Thousands of sheep perished, and a great deal of damage was done. The rain came on at Boston, about 7 o'clock in the morning, and continued during the day, the wind blowing from E. S. E. From eleven o'clock till six in the evening, it blew extremely hard, and from six
till nine, the wind blew a perfect hurricane. In consequence of this continued gale from one point, the tide came in with great rapidity in the evening, and half an hour before the expected time of high water, it rose four inches higher than it had been in the memory of man. But what was a very singular circumstance, the tide did not perceptibly subside for more than an hour after it reached its maximum. In the Marquis of Exeter's parks, at Hampstead, more than 100 large trees have been blown down, and 400 trees were destroyed in Walcott park, the seat of Neville Noel, Esq.
On the 25th of November, 1810, at half past one in the afternoon, three atmospheric stones fell perpendicularly, at Charsonville, in the department of Loiret. Their fall was accompani ed with a succession of thunder-claps, which preceded them and lasted for some minutes. The noise of these explosions, in number three or four, followed by the roll produced by the echo, was heard as distinctly at Orleans as at the place where the stones fell. It is even said, that the noise was as loud at Montargis, Saltri, Vierzon, and Blois, as in each of these places it was the cause of some alarm, and was attributed to the explosion of a powder-mill. It is concluded that, in consequence of the great distances in the circle in which the noise was heard, the explosion took place at a height in the atmosphere almost incalculable. The stones were found within an extent of half a league of each other; and their fall, in a perpendicular direction, was without any apparent light or globe of fire attending them. One of the stones, which fell at Mortelle, it seems, had not been found. Another fell at Villeroi, and the third at Moulinbrûle. One of