Meteorological Notes

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    THE STORM OF MARCH 12, 1876.—We turned with considerable interest to the account of this storm, which passed over the south of England on March 12, as published in the Journal of the English Meteorological Society for July. The interest was all the greater, seeing that the account was drawn up, at the request of the Council of that Society, by Mr. Scott, assisted by Messrs. Gaster and Whipple, that descriptions of the same storm had been previously published by Prof. Quetelet, Dr. Neumayer, and the late M. C. Sainte-Claire Deville, and that another paper on the same subject was intimated by Dr. Buys Ballot. The widespread interest which this storm has called forth is seen at once on looking at the nine weather maps and tables of Mr. Scott's paper, which show it to be one of the most remarkable storms of recent years, whether regard be paid to the rapid rate of its propagation eastwards, estimated by Dr. Neumayer at seventy-seven miles per hour over part of its course; to the rate of the barometric fluctuation, almost unprecedented in these islands, the bar meter at Kew having risen 0.407 inch during the two hour from 2 to 4 P.M.; or to the violent contrasts of temperature and weather on the two sides of the storm at comparatively short distances apart. To illustrate the subject with greater fulness a woodcut is given showing the automatic registrations of the different meteorological instruments at Kew, and tables of pressure and temperature for every ten minutes during the most interesting phase of the storm. To these curves a noteworthy and novel feature is added in the form of a curve showing the electrical changes from positive to negative, and vice versâ, at the time. The hourly readings of their self-recording instruments for March were moreover published shortly after by the Meteorological Office. On turning to these two barometric records taken from the same instrument at Kew, referring to the same time, and published by the same authorities, and comparing them together, we meet with nothing but confusion. Of the whole of the eleven instances on which readings are printed in the two records for the same instants of time, no two agree, the eleven differences being in order, + 0.006, -0.024, -0.008, -0.040, -0.020, -0.001, -0.040, -0.004, -0.012, -0.027, and + 0.003 inch. Whether or not the readings in the paper be reduced to sea-level, no information being given on this point, the whole observations of at least one of these two records are entirely wrong. In explanation of discrepancies previously pointed out, it was stated by the office that the original photographs may not admit of a precision closer than 0.020 inch. In this case, however, such an explanation is out of the question. Equally loose and inaccurate are the descriptions of the Kew curves, even though the main design of this costly system of registration is to furnish data for exact comparisons being instituted among the different meteorological elements. Thus it is stated that the electricity, having been strongly negative, returned again to positive between 6 and 8 A.M., whereas the change occurred all but instantaneously about 6.45 A.M.; that simultaneously with the time of maximum temperature, about 12.20 P.M., the wind, which had been west “suddenly became north,” whereas the change was not of such a character as to be described by the words simultaneous and sudden, seeing that about fifteen minutes elapsed as the wind veered from west to north; that “the barometer rose rapidly until 4 P.M., at an average rate of about 0.005 per minute,” whereas this rapid rate of increase of pressure was spread over no more than the fifty minutes from 2 to 2.50 P.M. It is needless to remark that the data of this singular storm thus put before us are worse than useless and it may be also stated that a number of the barometric observations at Kew, as published in the Hourly Readings for March, are of such a character as to render a verification by comparison with the originals very desirable.

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    Meteorological Notes . Nature 15, 186–188 (1876) doi:10.1038/015186b0

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