The Whitehall correspondent submitted a long-winded, pun intended, weather report for the Dec. 28, 1889 issue of The Granville Sentinel: “The atmosphere was in great commotion here Sunday night – evidently having urgent business elsewhere – and things movable presented a decidedly twisted appearance in town Monday morning.”
A contemporary editor likely would ask the reporter to consult the National Weather Service about the speed of the wind, and would have boiled down the verbiage to something like, “Severe winds in Whitehall uprooted trees and blew off roofs at Whitehall on Sunday. But dramatics frequently trumped details in 19th century newspapers.
Flowery, but imprecise, weather reports are somewhat common in historic newspapers.
“The warm weather of Monday and yesterday was welcomed as a forerunner of spring, and it is hoped that it will continue until it has made a perceptible diminishing in the mountains of snow that are to be seen on every hand,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on March 9, 1887.
“Tuesday and Wednesday were oppressively hot days, the mercury being plum to the top of the tube,” – The Granville Sentinel reported on July 18, 1890.
“Tuesday was the longest day in the year, the summer solstice occurring at exactly one o’clock P.M.,” The Morning Star reported on June 23, 1887. “There is a proverb, says an exchange, that as the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen. And, as it is a poor rule that doesn’t work both ways, it will be found that as the days grow shorter, mercury grows taller.”
It was much appreciated that the rain that fell in Glens Falls the day after Independence Day that year was timed perfectly so as not to mar festivities on July 4. “On the parched earth over the drying vegetation, laying the finely powdered dust, fell the gracious rain last night, its soft, sleepy patter singing a welcome lullaby for the tired workers and pillow-seeking participants of Monday’s celebration,” The Morning Star reported on July 6, 1887.
An autumn muse seems to have visited The Morning Star newsroom as the editor had need to fill space in the Sept. 12, 1887 issue. “Yesterday’s weather afforded a striking illustration of the beauties of autumn. The atmosphere was clear and bracing; the sun shone from a sky that was almost cloudless, and its rays, tempered by a refreshing breeze, maintained a happy medium that precluded the possibility of fault finding. In a word, the atmospheric conditions were as nearly perfect as the most exacting could wish.”
The same autumn muse seems to have visited The Granville Sentinel newsroom as editors were putting out the Oct. 10, 1890 issue. “Sunday was as lovely a day as anyone could wish for. The leaves on the trees have put on their autumnal garb of the variegated colors such as no artist can paint, except he who rules seasons and directs all things in their seasons. It was one of the nicest days of the season for study and reflection.”
Was it inspiration that sparked this whimsy, or a desperate urgency to fill space on deadline?
“It is enchanting to walk abroad in the prodigal glory of these days,” The Granville Sentinel editor declared on May 8, 1891. “Wove of nature’s finest warp and woof, brightened by the commingling of her most mellow and pleasing colors, scented by the breath of broken soil and bursting bud and shooting blade, and canopied by the bluest dome that has ever delighted eyes, these days are of the sort indeed that ‘man esteemeth above all others.’”
Even in March, a snowstorm could be a Zen moment. “Those who happened out of doors during the storm Sunday night could hardly have failed to observe the beauty of the scene presented. The branches of the trees were laden with snow, which glistened like heaps of crystals under the brilliant rays of the electric lights.”
Photo: An early Central Park weather station (courtesy National Weather Service).