By Sue KILPATRICK
“Wind changed to the No. Wt. (northwest) blew very hard and turned very cold …left on my return to Mt Vernon…”” — George Washington, March 9, 1797. Excerpt of his last weather report as he departed Philadelphia for his final journey home.
George Washington was a farmer. Oh yes, he was also the first president of the United States, and a general who led our troops to victory against the British in the Revolutionary War. His life was well documented in the detailed diaries he kept. Included throughout these were weather observations. Washington’s preoccupation with the weather was clearly an extension of his needs and interests as a farmer. My own fascination has no such bases as my crops consist only of a lemon tree, an apple tree, a grape vine and tomatoes. So what is going on in the Foothills?
Our sunny and dry days have come to an end, for now. A major weather pattern change will allow rain-laden storms to move in. February is normally our rainiest month, with an average of five inches. One of the heaviest of the current storms will move through the area on Presidents Day weekend. Three-to-six inches are expected.
I’m not sure as to President Lincoln’s feelings about rain on his birthday, but President Washington’s diaries indicate he would have been pleased. Happy Birthday, gentlemen!
After reading The Diaries of George Washington, I can imagine this conversation: “Martha dear, I must attend to my duties in Philadelphia and know not my exact date of return. While away, it may be of great utility to know the state of the weather as to heat and cold, also drought or moisture. In my desk you will find ink, paper and pen.” With a kiss on her cheek he rides off.
“Yes, George. God be with you in your travels.”
So, as a dutiful wife she used his few weather instruments – a prized dove-shaped copper weather vane and two types of thermometers, one inside and the other for recording outside highs and lows. And indeed, many entries in President Washington’s diary are made by Martha.
So, without the concerns of a husband leaving to build a new nation, I write my weather forecast. Although nothing about the actual nature of weather has changed, this cannot be said as to its prediction technology. According to the National Weather Service we can expect rain to be with us through the end of next week. At this time, our season total is slightly over 20 inches and counting.
Drive carefully as you venture out and don’t forget your umbrella!
Sue Kilpatrick is a longtime CV resident and amateur weather watcher. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.