Re: [40Whacks] more on weather
- I vaguely remember the previous discussion about the weather...
and isn't part of the confusion due to the location of the reporting
station? In other words, it can be hot in one place, and a few
degrees cooler in another place not too far away. Or am I
just confusing the issue more? LOL
- --- In 40Whacks@y..., WestList@A... wrote:
>I vaguely remember the previous discussion about the weather...Yes, last summer and the summer before that I sent many posts to the
>and isn't part of the confusion due to the location of the reporting
>station? In other words, it can be hot in one place, and a few
>degrees cooler in another place not too far away.
list showing the current local midday temps both at the shoreline and
locations varying from 3 to 7 miles inland (I use WeatherBug, which
allows me to check weather monitoring stations in my area that range
from the shoreline to about 10 miles inland; if I knew Fall River's
zipcode I would have been able to monitor that area itself)...I live
in southern Connecticut, so the weather here is pretty comparable to
Fall River, Massachusetts.
And I thought I had adequately demonstrated the point that there can
be 15 or more degrees difference between the temperature at the shore
and the temperature just a few miles inland; one of my hobbies is
flying kites at the beach in the summer, and it is not unusual for the
midday temperature to be in the mid-90s and without a hint of a breeze
at my house, some 7 miles from shore, while at the beach the
temperature is in the low 80s with a steady onshore breeze (coming off
of the water) of 8 to 12 mph...
My car's A/C no longer works, so I drive with the windows down; I can
first notice a drop in temperature of about 5 degrees when I am about
3 to 4 miles from my house, and then there is a significant drop in
temperature (another 5 degrees to as much as 10 degrees) when I am
between a mile or two from the beach. I'm not the only one who has
noticed this, other kite fliers who commute from inland communities to
the beach have also commented on the significant drop in temperature
they experience when they are only a mile or two from the
beach...indeed, that is the main reason people have vacation homes on
the shoreline, because it is so much cooler than it is inland... ;-)
We've learned from experience to always pack a sweater or a jacket to
take along, even if we're in the middle of a heatwave and temps
elsewhere in the state hover in the mid-to-high 90s...because it is
not unusual for a slight shift in wind (more to the east so that the
air comes more from the Atlantic than Long Island Sound) to send temps
at the beach down into the 70s, while the rest of the state remains in
the 90s...on more than one occasion we've been downright chilly at the
beach, while the rest of the state is reporting record-breaking high
The Atlantic is significantly cooler than the water in Long Island
Sound, so a breeze coming mainly from the Atlantic (which in my area
is a southerly or southeasterly breeze) is quite a few degrees cooler
than a breeze from the southwest, which brings the air over the
relatively warmer waters of Long Island Sound...
Fall River, due to its location, would usually get breezes off of the
Atlantic on most sunny summer days, which would make the shoreline in
the Fall River area significantly cooler than the temperature at the
same time of day just 5 or so miles inland...(btw, on most days the
onshore breeze does not pick up until midday, between noon and 1 to
1:30 p.m., meaning that it can be cooler at the shore at 12:30 p.m.
than it was at the same location a few hours earlier...because there
is little or no breeze from dawn until midday, the shore temp could be
85 at 10 a.m., and then drop to only 80 degrees by 1 p.m. because the
onshore breeze has come up and is bringing in cooler air off of the
water; if anyone is interested, I could explain in more depth the
dynamics that cause this to happen)...
So the matter of what the temperature really was in Fall River on the
day of the Borden murders hinges on where the U.S. Signal Corps'
monitoring station was; no one has so far come up with this
information, but the odds are in favor of it being down on the shore,
since Fall River was a major shipping community, and the U.S. Signal
Corps' monitoring stations would have been used primarily to provide
information to the shipping lines.
And the daily papers most likely used the 'official' weather report,
including temperature, provided by the U.S. Signal Corps, even though
the newspaper offices were some miles inland and probably had
temperatures quite a few degrees higher than what the government
monitoring station was reporting...because once again, the parties
most interested in the weather would have been those involved in
shipping, therefore the information from the monitoring station
catering to the shipping industry would most likely have been the
information used (compared to, say, a thermometer just outside of the
It is not that very different today -- if you pick up your local paper
and read what the official temperature is, that temperature is
probably based on what the newspaper got from the local Weather Bureau
(nowadays probably located at the local airport) and not on a
thermometer at the newspaper's offices. If there have been
record-breaking high or low temperatures, one will occasionally see a
newspaper report something like "The temperature at 2 p.m. at the
airport was...., while the temperature downtown was...."; it is
unlikely that the newspapers in Fall River in 1892 bothered to note
the difference between what the government monitoring station reported
and what was actually being experienced in downtown Fall River at the
same time, and instead just dutifuly reported the 'official'
temperature as reported by the U.S. Signal Corp.
My feeling is that too many contemporary accounts, not the least of
which were comments made at the trial, referred to the heatwave the
community was experiencing not only that day in 1892, but that whole
first week of August; they can't all be mistaken. If everyone at the
time remembered that they had been in the middle of a heatwave, and
that it was very hot the day of the murders, then I believe that it
indeed was hot.
Now we can debate what exactly constitutes 'hot'; it indeed may have
only been 78 at the shore at midday on the day of the murders, but it
could also have been anywhere from the low 80s to the low 90s just a
few miles inland at downtown Fall River; if, for the sake of argument,
we say that it was 'only' around 85 degrees in downtown Fall River
around midday, we still don't know what the humidity was. And it can
get pretty sticky here in southern New England in the summer,
downright tropical sometimes. Last summer we had a week of temps in
the mid 80s with humidity readings to match (humidity in the
80-something percent range), and let me tell you it was pretty
uncomfortable, and that's wearing lightweight, modern clothing; just
imagine what similar conditions must have felt like to people wearing
Victorian-style clothing -- which for women meant drawers down to the
knees, then a chemise over which went one's corset, then a corset
cover, followed by 3 cotton petticoats (5 to 8 in the winter,
including wool petticoats) over which one put one's dress. Even if it
was a lightweight cotton dress, it was still a pretty stifling outfit.
Men did little better, especially businessmen who wore dark woolen
suits, even in summer (at least in New England; someone wearing a suit
made of light color and light fabric would have been thought 'strange'
or perhaps a 'dandy'; indeed Mark Twain drew quite a few comments from
native Nutmeggers when he moved to Hartford and sported white cotton
suits in the summer)...
If one were really risque in that era and dared to actually go into
the water at the beach, the bathing costumes were also of a dark
woolen material, both for men and for women; men's suits were
basically adaptations of 'union suits', while women's bathing costumes
were a baggier 'union suit' over which was a relative short woolen
skirt (just below the knees)....while they may have felt cool while
actually IN the water, one can't imagine they remained comfortable for
long in those getups once out of the water...
And I suspect there was little or no bathing going on in the Fall
River area in 1892...it was too staid, and more than just being
'Victorian', it was too entrenched in 'puritania'...
As I mentioned, I often fly kites at the beach; the park I go to at
one time was an amusement park, on a par with Coney Island, Palisades
Park, and Atlantic City...Savin Rock first became a shoreline
attraction in the 1870s, when a few hotels were built on the shore to
cater to the well-to-do summer vacation crowd, and at that time it
enjoyed a certain prestige with the uppercrust segment of society; by
the 1890s it had added rides, a midway, a dancing pavillion, etc., and
had become considered somewhat "low-brow" and actually risque, not the
least because of the 'bathing pavillions', where one actually paid
money for the 'privilege' to go swimming, or 'bathing' as it was
called in those days (indeed these businesses remained until the early
There are quite a few postcards from this era (1890's to just before
WWI), showing bathers at these pavillions, all in their heavy woolen
suits...but the majority of the people attending the park did NOT go
into the water, rather the women are shown in their best summer
frocks, complete with gloves and huge straw bonnets, and the men are
all in suits. Most of them are dark suits, a few dapper dandies are
occasionally seen in a lightweight summer suit. But always suits,
with jackets on, shirts buttoned up to the neck and celluloid collars
neatly in place and ties firmly tied at the neck.
They all look decidedly uncomfortable, for all the 'amusement' they
are enjoying; you can tell that they were all sweltering, even though
they were at the cooler shore....one can just imagine how much more
uncomfortable they all felt in such outfits in the much warmer city...