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Pat Shingleton: "Freezing Molasses and 1982..."

5 years 9 months 1 week ago Tuesday, January 12 2016 Jan 12, 2016 January 12, 2016 4:15 AM January 12, 2016 in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton

Yesterday was 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 and by 2:00 P.M. that afternoon it slide from 36 degrees to 20, to 7 degrees at 10:00 p.m. that evening. After Midnight the temperature was 2 degrees.  Crews from the ship Miliero pumped a half million gallons of molasses from its warm hold into tanks holding existing cold molasses. Reports indicate that the process created a bubbling churn including vibrating from the tank walls.  Workers actually reported that these walls were groaning. In addition, the rapid temperature increase to 50 degrees, initiated a fermentation process.  Within minutes, the top of the 58 foot tank exploded and a 50 foot, 2 million gallon "mollasses" poured over "Bean Town's" streets killing 21 and injuring 15. Another weather-related disaster occurred. Years ago, plane de-icing was randomly performed and is now a regimented, regulated procedure.  On this date in 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the icy Potomac River, thirty seconds after takeoff from National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.  The casualty count noted 78 deaths, including four who were in cars on the 14th Street Bridge.  Weatherwise magazine noted that the National Transportation Safety Board determined the cause of the crash was the failure of pilots to abort the takeoff and for not activating anti-icing equipment. Ice on wings is dangerous because of additional weight and the loss of lift for the aircraft, causing drag on the aircraft’s body.  A wing can lose 30% of lift with a small accumulation of ice.

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