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Pat Shingleton: "The Chinook and Molasses in Boston..."

6 days 16 hours 55 minutes ago Friday, January 11 2019 Jan 11, 2019 January 11, 2019 9:00 AM January 11, 2019 in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton:

A dry, warm , wind that descends from  mountains is the "Chinook," also known as the "snow eater."  Once this wind-burst arrives, temperatures rise as much as 60 degrees in one day.  On this date in 1983, the temperature in Calgary rose 30 degrees in four hours. Mountain evergreens that display a reddish tinge and dried-out needles are known as red belt.  This conditions is caused by dehydration from the warmth of the Chinook.  As the warm winds slide over the mountains, trees experience the sudden temperature change, losing their winter preparedness and begin to "wake up."  With frozen ground, the trees can't replace lost water and  their needles dry out and die. Today also marks the anniversary of “America’s most fascinating and surreal disaster.”  On January 11, 1919, Boston’s Daily Globe reported that “a cold air mass settled in.” The following morning, the mercury tumbled from 36 degrees to 20 at 2:00 p.m to 7 degrees at 10:00 p.m. and finally resting at 2 degrees.  Crews from the ship Miliero pumped a half million gallons of molasses from its warm hold into tanks holding existing cold molasses causing a bubbling churn that began a process causing vibrations on the tank’s walls.  Workers reported the walls were groaning. This process activated fermentation, aided by a temperature rise to 50. Then the top of the 58 foot tank blew and a 50 foot wave including 2 million gallons of goo rushed over the streets of Boston that killed 21 and injured 150.

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