Pat Shingleton: "Darkness and Camille..."
Once our late afternoon thunderstorms end, our “weather-watchers” forward spectacular pictures of sunsets that we share with our viewers. Research indicates that there are physical benefits to sunsets. Scientists have discovered that during complete darkness, a body produces the hormone melatonin. Melatonin fights diseases, including breast and prostate cancer. Small amounts of light around your bed at night switch off the production of melatonin and a dark night may keep certain cancers under control. Light during the evening hours, emanating from your bedroom television, activates other “daytime” immune system hormones. If these are compromised, illnesses are more likely. Scientists contend nature also needs darkness, as animals' immune systems grow weak if there's artificial light at night. Stay in the dark, when you can. Also of note, when the Spanish first explored the Americas, they too experienced ferocious storms and adopted the term that the natives also used, Hurakan. They believed it represented the Great Spirit who commanded the east wind, sending great destruction while providing life-giving rain. On August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille moved inland just west of Pass Christian, Mississippi. Wind speeds were clocked at 200 miles-per-hour and for that date, it became the strongest land falling tropical cyclone worldwide and the only Atlantic hurricane of its kind until Hurricane Allen in 1980. The winds initiated a 24.6 foot storm surge, the highest hurricane tidal surge ever recorded in the United States. The Gulf coast was leveled with 259 deaths, 8,900 injuries and $1.42 billion in damage.