In 1975, Chinese meteorologist Chang Chi-tsai came out with "Chang's law" which codified the relationship between croaking frogs and the weather:
If frogs croak on a fine day it will rain in two days.
If frogs croak after rain it will be fine weather.
It will continue to rain if frogs do not croak after successive overcast days.
Previously we've posted about how to use gnats to predict the weather
Minneapolis Star Tribune - Jan 19, 1975
When she was in her forties, Doris Munday realized that she had the power to control the weather. All she had to do was look at a location on a map, visualize what kind of weather it needed, and then concentrate hard. The weather would obey her command.
Shepherds Bush Gazette - Oct 7, 1971
This power came with a cost. Controlling the weather would leave her feeling fatigued, and it also seemed to cause her bad luck. After she had sent rain somewhere, her washing machine might blow up, or someone would run into her car.
She also felt that she didn't get enough credit for her powers. She complained, "Everyone always says when the rain falls, 'Oh well, it is a coincidence isn't it', and I don't even get a thank you for my time and trouble."
Hounslow Middlesex Chronicle - Jan 26, 1973
Daily Mail - Jan 24, 1973
And on occasion she made mistakes. She once wanted to send rain to South Africa, but accidentally sent it to Rhodesia instead.
Hamilton Spectator - Jan 22, 1973
She confessed that she didn't know why her powers worked, they just did. She speculated, "I think I have stumbled on some kind of electrical force which is rarely known."
The Guardian - Dec 23, 1968
Based on the press coverage from 1969, it sounds like the couples who remained in the path of Hurricane Camille to have a "hurricane party" certainly deserved to become Darwin Award winners (bestowed on them in 2000 by Wendy Northcutt in her Darwin Awards book
At least 15 persons died at Pass Christian. The victims included five couples who were having a hurricane party in a three-story apartment. Police Chief Jerry Peralta couldn't make them leave.
"The last time I went up to try to get them out, the water was just over the sea wall. They were having a good time and they wouldn't leave. That's the last anybody saw of them," he said.
Orlando Evening Star - Aug 19, 1969
But digging deeper into the story, thirty years after the hurricane people began challenging the tale of a "hurricane party." According to the debunkers, there was no party, and the people who stayed had been told by the apartment manager that the building could withstand a hurricane because it was a designated Civil Defense shelter.
One apartment resident who survived the hurricane continued to insist that the people on the third floor had been having a party. But this woman also claimed insanity as the reason she killed her 11th husband. So not the most credible witness.
More info: Hurricane Camille party in 1969: Fact or fiction?
-- Hurricane Party
image source: Acts of God: the Old farmer's almanac unpredictable guide to weather and natural disasters
[Harry Boon] says that he can always tell what the weather outlook is going to be by watching the gnats and the birds. When the swallows fly low to catch the gnats, it means a heavy atmosphere and that rain is on the way. When the swallows fly high for the gnats, according to Harry, then the sun will shine all day. . .
Birds, insects, and reptiles provide a host of minor prophets, most of them with a gloomy message to proclaim. The noisy quacking of ducks and geese, the croaking of frogs, the loud singing of the missel-thrush, and the crawling of the toad across the road at dusk are one and all harbingers of rain.
The spider is the most interesting barometer. She prepares for wind by shortening the main filaments of her web. When these are unusually long, fine weather may be expected to last for 10 or 12 days. Very rarely is the web left alone for more than 24 hours. Complete cessation of work is said to be a sign of wet, but if activities are resumed during the rain it is an indication that the shower will not last long and will be followed by a spell of settled weather.
Nottingham Evening Post - July 23, 1956
click to enlarge
In 1950, Senator Clinton P. Anderson of New Mexico introduced a bill in the Senate to create a federal "Weather Control Commission" modeled after the Atomic Energy Commission. Its purpose would be to regulate and license rainmaking activities in order to ensure the "equitable distribution of precipitation among the States." It would also study military applications of weather control.
Anderson didn't get his Weather Control Commission, though in 1953 the federal government did create an Advisory Committee on Weather Control. And of course there are all those conspiracy theories alleging that the government is using the HAARP station up in Alaska
to control the weather.
More info: Congressional Hearings, March 1951
Baltimore Sun - Dec 10, 1950
Back in 2005, MIT researcher Moshe Alamaro came up with an oddball idea to fight hurricanes: use barges equipped with upward-pointing jet engines to create tropical storms in their path. Details from The Salina Journal
(July 2, 2005):
Alamaro, in cooperation with German and Russian colleagues, presented his latest idea at a weather conference in Washington earlier this year. The idea is to tow barges equipped with about 20 jet engines into a hurricane's projected path, ignite the engines with the jet pointed skyward and create updrafts and plumes that would suck up some of the heat from the ocean.
After operating for about half a day, the updraft would create a tropical storm of its own. This would cool the water through which the advancing hurricane would move and so rob a potentially deadly storm of some strength. Alamaro said there's more than an ample supply of unused jet engines on the mothballed fleets of Cold War bombers now rusting in desert junkyards in Arizona and Nevada.
Alamaro said a 10 percent reduction in a hurricane's wind speed would result in a 50 percent reduction in its power when the storm hits landfall. If it works the way Alamaro and his colleagues suggest, residents of the Atlantic and Caribbean shores might one day experience more tropical storms, but not so many hurricanes.
"What we want to do is create several tropical storms to replace the hurricane. It would not stop it completely," he said.
Maybe this would work. Or maybe the artificial tropical storms would themselves turn into hurricanes? Since Alamaro estimated it would cost around $1 billion a year to do this, it's unlikely his idea will be tested any time soon.
More info: The Economist - June 11, 2005