The Year Without a Summer (Yes, It Really Happened)
We've really been lagging in the warm weather department. As a matter of fact, some of my friends have jokingly referred to this month as "Apri-Dember" because although it's April, the cold temperatures and occasional snow have made it feel more like December. Since this spring has been unseasonably cool, the timing seemed perfect to look back at the year that summer skipped.
No really, for all of the joking we do that summer might just skip over us this year, it really happened and the lack of summer in 1816 was so shocking that people are still talking about it 200 years later.
1816 was literally a year without a summer and not just in New York or Pennsylvania. That year, summer passed over basically the entire Northern Hemisphere. There was no summer-like weather in all of North America, Northern Europe, and parts of Asia.
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.
Nobody is really sure what caused such chilly temperatures, but there’s 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.