Pat Shingleton: "The First Weatherman and The Big Wind..."
John Jeffries was a Boston physician, scientist, and a military surgeon with the British Army during the Revolutionary War. He is also recognized as the first weatherman and an early balloonist. He 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 as I have been one for 43 years. Tuesday afternoon we experienced an episode of tricky weather. As the fronts continue to move through at this time of the year, more episodes of rough weather could occur. This hardly compares with the "Wind of the Century." This was named by the British during the second week of January, 1968 as 125 mile-per-hour winds blew out of the Irish Sea causing blizzards and hurricane-force winds from England to Iran. Hundreds were injured, with at least 20 people dead as Scotland experienced the worst with 16 causalities. Houses in Glasgow and Scotland were toppled, leaving hundreds homeless. At Great Dun Fell, the highest wind speed ever recorded in England and Wales was 134 mph. Destructive winds swept across Denmark, Germany and Switzerland with heavy snow in Jerusalem and a first time snowfall in Beersheba in the Negev Desert.