Weather Watch


I have been thinking a lot about our democracy lately, not only how fragile it is but also how amazing that it was even conceived. It wasn’t that everyone agreed, “England and the king are bad so let’s all start our own country.” There were extreme views from every angle. Patrick Henry and George Washington were friends but viewed the role of the new government differently. Henry opposed ratification of the Constitution, for example, and although they disagreed at one point in 1799 Washington reached out to Henry for help as he was concerned about the direction Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were taking the country.

According to John Ragosta, a historian at the Robert H. Smith Center for Jefferson Studies in Monticello and quoted in an article in, Ragosta had come across a letter from Washington to Henry that asked him to “come out of retirement to save the nation.” His concern was that “these people” (Jefferson and Madison) were putting party over country and could destroy the Union.

The country started with debates, mostly between the Federalists who supported the U.S. Constitution and the anti-Federalists who opposed it. There were debates – really heated debates – that at one point pushed the country to the brink of a civil war before it was even united. However, through reasonable debate a compromise was found and the Constitution was enacted and a democracy was born.

But what is also very interesting is how the weather played a vital role in the Revolution.

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,” reads a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860.

This is a great poem that many of us read as kids and, as I have stated before, many great stories of fiction, and in this case poetry, begin with a tinge of truth. Paul Revere, according to historians, did exist and he was tasked with warning the Continental Army that the “British were coming.” But the fact is Revere and his fellow riders William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott were all captured the night of the warning and if it weren’t for rain Longfellow’s poem would be a tragic one.

On April 18, 1775 there were some heavy rains in the areas of Boston, Lexington and Concord. The roads were soggy and muddy. Revere rode from Boston to Lexington and met with Dawes and Prescott on the way to Concord but they were intercepted by a British patrol. Dawes and Prescott escaped and went on to warn the colonists in Concord. Revere returned to Lexington. But that’s not the end of the story; because of the rain the British didn’t have the firing power they had wanted.

“The British had planned to bring their small cannons with them to teach the rebels a lesson,” said AccuWeather Chief Operating Officer Evan Myers, host of the podcast This Date in Weather History.

Even though the sun was out it was cold and the roads remained wet. The cannons got stuck in the mud on the road from Boston and were left behind. By the time the British made it to Concord the militia outnumbered the British thanks to the early warning by Dawes and Prescott.

I understand how Longfellow had to take poetic license; after all, “Listen children and you shall hear the midnight ride of William Dawes, Dr. Samuel Prescott and Paul Revere, who were captured in the rain” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But that is what art is supposed to do. Many times art highlights feelings more than facts. Art is an important tool that can be used to lift spirits, to create a sense of pride and, in this case, to remind us that brave souls were willing to put their lives on the line to build and protect this idea of democracy. This American tradition continues to be carried forward by those who have served and are currently serving in the military. But it is important to not only know the artful prose but the reality as well.

History is not always pretty; it does not always give us the heroes we thought we knew; however, there are so many unsung heroes and so many stories of bravery, kindness, empathy and intellect that it is our duty to find the true history in every story. To find the facts, even those with which we don’t agree, like George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and others of that Revolutionary era, we must find a way to compromise and be the inspiration we want our children to read about through poetry and books.

Enjoy the weekend because after it we will be seeing a lot of extreme heat.

“We are concerned about another heat wave all next week and beyond. And not just in the mountains and deserts but also the coastal valley areas,” said Ryan Kittell, NOAA meteorologist.

The San Fernando Valley will see high temperatures from 95 degrees Fahrenheit to 105. The temperatures will rise beginning on Monday with the peak on Tuesday and Wednesday and through the rest of the week. Tuesday and Wednesday temps will be about 10 degrees above normal, he said.

So, as is normal on high heat days, there are some precautions to take including slowing down and avoiding strenuous work, dressing for the weather in lightweight, light colored clothing, avoiding high-protein foods and meat – eating these can increase your body’s heat production – drinking lots of water (unless you have a condition that is affected by changing how much fluid you drink it’s a good idea to keep as hydrated as possible), finding air-conditioned places to hang out or cooling centers like libraries, avoiding too much sun and being careful in cars, according to NOAA.