Pat Shingleton: "Hurricane Father and The Tempest"
On July 23, 1893, Father Benito Vines died in Havana, Cuba. Father Vines is regarded as the preeminent hurricane scholar of the 19th century. As director of the observatory at Belen College in Havana in 1870, he made meticulous observations of weather conditions, especially during tropical disturbances. His daily observations became a climatological catalog for future forecasts. His notations included excerpts expressing brick-red sunsets, pounding surf and how cumulus clouds would evaporate at the approach of a hurricane. His keen sense of observation allowed him to understand the dynamics of tropical cyclones and by 1875 he was able to issue accurate hurricane warnings. He was late recognized as “Father Hurricane” and invented a device used by mariners to avoid hurricanes and typhoons called the Antilles Cyclonoscope. Another anniversary rewinds 307 years when a fleet of nine ships carrying 500 colonists from England to Virginia ran into a hurricane near Bermuda on July 24, 1609. One vessel sank and seven of the ships made it to Jamestown but the flagship, Sea Venture, didn’t reach port. After several weeks it was believed to be lost, including the new governor of Virginia, Sir Thomas Gates. The Jamestown inhabitants accepted the tragedy and set about the work of building their new home. Surprisingly, on May 23, 1610 most of the passengers of the Sea-Venture arrived in Jamestown on two small pinnaces. Their ship ran aground on a reef near Bermuda, an island paradise that other sailors referred to as the “Ile of Divels.” They stayed there for nine months while building the two small ships. Back in England a playwright read an account of the miraculous shipwreck and in 1611 he, William Shakespeare, finished The Tempest, his last complete play.
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