The Year Without a Summer (Yes, It Really Happened)
If the old saying, "April showers bring May flowers" is true, then we're in for a really beautiful month next month. This year, it felt like spring would never arrive and then when it did it came in more like mud season than anything else. However, we probably shouldn't complain. It could definitely be worse and in the summer of 1816, it was. Way worse.
1816 was literally a year without a summer and not just in New York and Pennsylvania. That year, summer passed over basically the entire Northern Hemisphere. There was no summer-like weather in any part of North America, Northern Europe, and parts of Asia. Can you imagine looking forward to summer all through the cold winter months only to have it never arrive?
Temperatures were so cold during the "summer" months of 1816 that there were crop-killing frosts in July and August. Those frosts took out so many crops that food shortages became a very real thing and people were so starved that rioting and looting ensued in the United Kingdom and in France.
Sadly, it was so bitterly cold that many residents of our New England states and the Canadian Maritimes froze to death, starved, or suffered from extreme malnutrition. But it wasn't just the cold that people were plagued by. It was also snowy, with storms dumping more than a foot of snow in both May and June.
The North wasn't the only section of the country being crippled by the cold. The South was also impacted. As a matter of fact, the highest temperature of all of 1816 was on July 4th and it only reached 46 degrees in Savannah, Georgia. Can you imagine?
Nobody is really sure what caused such chilly temperatures, but there’s a suspicion that a series of volcanic eruptions during the winter of 1815 was partially to blame. When Mt. Tambora in Indonesia erupted, a massive cloud of ash and dust ended up in the stratosphere, where it sat for quite a bit of time. The belief is that the ash actually insulated the earth from the heat and light of the sun and the result was a cooling effect. Scientists also believe that there's also a chance that 1816 was part of a mini ice age that lasted from 1400 to around 1860.