Stylish rain gear.
More info: Patent No. 1,888,909
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
AKA "Le chapeau paratonnerre." Details from Amelia Soth on JStor Daily:
According to the popular science writer Louis Figueir, all the excitement about the new knowledge of electricity led to an odd trend: in his recounting, Paris in the 1770s saw a fad for ladies’ lightning-rod caps, trimmed with metallic thread connecting to a cord that dragged along the ground. The (extremely flawed) theory was that the cord would carry a lightning bolt harmlessly away from the wearer. He also writes of a lightning-rod umbrella proposed by one of Ben Franklin’s acolytes, Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg. The umbrella would be surmounted with a metal pole and trail a silver braid to bear away the charge.
image source: wikimedia
A more recent version of a lightning-rod hat:
Tampa Bay Times - Aug 16, 1975
On August 20, 1975, the McQuilken siblings were hiking in Sequoia National Park when their hair started to stand on end. They paused to take a photo of the unusual phenomenon. The top photo shows the two brothers, Sean and Michael. The bottom one shows their sister Mary.
A few minutes after taking these photos, lightning struck Sean and Michael. Luckily, they both survived.
The photos are now used in a pamphlet published by the National Weather Service
describing lightning warning signs.
Michael McQuilken later wrote an article about his recollections of that day (the article is now only accessible via the Internet Archive
Suddenly, I was immersed in the brightest light I have ever seen. I moved my head from side to side and all I could see was bright white light, similar in appearance to arc welding light. This next part is strange. I distinctly remember feeling weightless, and that my feet were no longer touching the ground. For some reason, it felt like a number of seconds transpired, even though I realize that lightning strikes are instantaneous. A deafening explosion followed, and I found myself on the ground with the others. Sean was collapsed and huddled on his knees. Smoke was pouring from his back. I rushed over to him and checked his pulse and breathing. He was still alive. I put out the embers on his back and elbows and carried him down the path towards the parking lot, with the rest of the group following.
More info: NBC News
Dec 20, 1980:
On a cold winter's evening, 19-year-old Jean Hilliard's car got stuck in a ditch, so she decided to walk for help. She was found the next morning, two miles away, frozen solid.
Later, people told her she'd made it to her friend's yard, tripped, and crawled on her hands and knees to his doorstep. They said she lay there for six straight hours, with her eyes frozen wide open. Hilliard doesn't remember any of that.
Remarkably, doctors were able to thaw her out even though she was so rock hard that needles broke on her skin. She suffered no serious injuries — just some blistered toes.
Read the full story at MPR News