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Pat Shingleton: "The First...WEATHERMAN..."

1 year 8 months 1 week ago Friday, February 05 2016 Feb 5, 2016 February 05, 2016 4:15 AM February 05, 2016 in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton

John Jeffries was a Boston physician, scientist, and military surgeon with the British Army during the Revolutionary War. Jeffries is recognized as the first “weatherman.”  He was an early balloonist and accompanied Jean-Pierre Blanchard in 1785 as their balloon crossed the English Channel. During the flight, Dr. Jeffries took weather readings with a thermometer, barometer, and hydrometer - to measure humidity, an electrometer - to determine electrical activity, a timepiece, compass and telescope.  He also used a ribbon and scissors to determine the rise and fall of the balloon and a pen and pencil to ascertain if thin air affected their use. Today marks his birthday in 1744, known as National Weatherman’s Day. Thanks to Cookies by Design for their “Weatherman’s Day” gifts, the Valluzzo Family and Alzheimer's Services. Finally, I re-read David McCullough’s book, “1776” recently. There were numerous examples of how weather conditions truly changed the course of history, sometimes to benefit Washington’s army. A passage of interest included the weather as the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River on December 26, 1776. McCullough’s description and historical journal entries replicated what recently occurred in the northeast. To surprise the elite Hessian troops in Trenton, 2,400 soldiers, marched five miles in conditions that included cold driving rain, sleet, snow and hail. Many of the soldiers had no shoes. As the blizzard evolved, white-out conditions ensued and the Commander-In-Chief encouraged his men to stay with their officers to guide them into battle. The 45 minute battle resulted in 21 Hessians deaths, 900 prisoners and only four American injuries.

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