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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... 1816, North America's year without a summer.


KNOY: It's Living on Earth. I'm Laura Knoy.
Winter is coming, and for some folks, the next three months will seem like a year. Be thankful you weren't around in 1816. That year, winter actually did last a year. It was called "the year without a summer," and when it was over, tens of thousands of people and animals across the Northern Hemisphere had perished. It started in April, 1815, when the volcanic Mt. Tambora in Indonesia erupted, spewing a cloud of dust world-wide. When the plume reached North America, it knocked average temperatures down several degrees, from spring through fall. In the northeastern US, heavy snow fell in June, and there were killing frosts until August. Farmers built bonfires around fields, but, most crops were lost. But not everyone was caught off-guard. When the 1816 edition of the Old Farmer's Almanac first went to press, it predicted rain, hail, and snow for July. The mistake was caught, and subsequent copies of the Almanac forecast more summery weather. But when those predictions fell flat, no one could find a copy of the original edition. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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