When you and I are tempted to think that extremes are aberrations of nature, suspensions of the natural order of things, instead of the fulfillment – maybe it’s because we don’t know our history.
To illustrate this, let’s pick a day at random…let’s say, today, November 25… which happens, this year, the day after Thanksgiving, to seem a bit slow, and ask…what’s happened on this date in history?
Back in the day, compiling all this might have been difficult, but today Wikipedia makes such tasks easy. Here’s a sample, from today’s entry:
1343. A tsunami, caused by the earthquake in the Tyrrhenian Sea, devastates Naples and the Maritime Republic of Amalfi.
1667. 80,000 people die when a deadly earthquake rocks Shemakha in the Caucasus.
1703. The great storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in Great Britain, reaches its peak intensity which it maintains through November 27. Winds gust up to 120 mph, and 9000 people die. This storm merited its own entry in Wikipedia, which makes interesting reading. Worth checking out in its entirety, but here are a couple of snippets. Wikipedia labels it the worst natural disaster ever recorded in southern Great Britain. The storm started on November 24, and didn’t die down until December 2. [Sounds miserable!] The lowest pressure measured was 973 millibars, but the lowest pressure for the storm was estimated to be 950 mb. 1500 seamen were killed; another 8000 lost their lives on shore. One ship was blown from England to Sweden before it could make its way back. Quoting Wikipedia, “The storm, unprecedented in ferocity and duration, was generally reckoned by witnesses to represent the anger of God-—in recognition of the “crying sins of this nation”, the government declared 19 January 1704 a day of fasting, saying it “loudly calls for the deepest and most solemn humiliation of our people”. It remained a frequent topic of moralizing in sermons well into the nineteenth century.”
1759. A Mediterranean earthquake kills 30,000-40,000 people, destroying Beirut and Damascus.
1833. Sumatra is rocked by an 8.7-9.2 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami along its entire coast. [Sound familiar?]
1839. India is hit by a cyclone and a 40-foot storm surge, which destroys the city of Coringa, sweeps 20,000 boats inland, and kills 300,000.
1926. America experiences its deadliest November tornado outbreak, which strikes on Thanksgiving Day of that year. 27 tornadoes are recorded, including one F4. 76 people die and 400 are injured.
1987. Typhoon Nina hits the Philippines. The accompany surge destroys whole villages and kills 1000.
1996. An ice storm hits the central U.S., killing 26; the same day Florida is hit by high winds.
Just another day here on planet Earth.
Had you ever heard of, or do you remember, any of these events?
I certainly hadn’t.
Ok, I understand a few thousand years are involved here…but keep in mind that for much of this period none of the disasters occurring in the Americas were recorded. And I recognize this is hardly a scientific sample. But also note that I didn’t go trolling through a period of many days until I found an interesting one. I simply wondered, on a slow day in 2011, what I’d uncover if I checked out that day in history.
So as we continue our wild ride on this plane that does its business through extremes…
…stay weather-ready, my friends.