Pat Shingleton: "The Volcano that Did It!"
In April, 1815, Mount Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa, erupted. Historians, researchers and scientists have investigated this incident and believe it was the most explosive eruption in 10,000 years. At the end of the volcano’s convulsions, 4,200 feet of its 13,000 foot height were gone as 25 cubic miles of ash was released into the atmosphere. The effects of this volcanic eruption were felt worldwide and within an area of 200 miles from the eruption site there was total darkness for three days. Mariners reported a one-foot-thick layer of volcanic debris on the sea surface that lasted four years. The immediate fatalities from the eruption were estimated to be at 10,000 with an additional 82,000 deaths on Sumbawa and neighboring islands due to starvation. Additional impacts created global warming and cooling that resulted in “The Year Without Summer.” The volcano discharged dust and sulfurous gases that spread around the globe. The diary of Hiram Harwood of Bennington, Vermont, noted that on June 11, 1817, frigid temperatures found New Englanders building “roaring fires in their hearth, as killing frosts turned leaves and gardens black.” Once the cold spell ended, the farmers replanted their crops only to have temperatures plummeting again in July. On August 21st, hard frosts killed crops in Boston and a snowstorm whitened the peaks of the Green Mountains. The eruption inflicted climatic changes all over the Northern Hemisphere and is one of the first examples of global cooling.