Sunday, December 9, 2012
If Famous Authors Wrote Textbooks, Pt II
The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years - if it ever did end - began, so far as I can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.
The boat bobbed, listed, righted itself again, dived bravely through treacherous whirlpools, and continued on its way down Witcham Street toward the traffic light that marked the intersection of Witcham and Jackson. The three vertical lenses on all sides of the traffic light were dark this afternoon in the fall of 1957, and the houses were all dark too. There had been steady rain for a week now, and two days ago the winds had come as well.
Moisture always exists in the atmosphere, but when it cools sufficiently, it forms particles large enough to fall down. In this case, a cold front, the leading edge of a cooler mass of air within a fairly narrow trough of low pressure formed after an extratropical cyclone on the edge of its cold air advection pattern. This dense cold front then inserted itself below the warmer, moister air, causing its pressure to drop and resulting in a line of showers along the leading edge. Perhaps, being slow to pass, the cold front continued to produce precipitation for an extended period of time although a more likely explanation is a second cold front had come through, accounting for the late arrival of gusting winds normally associated with the arrival of a cold front.