The Weather Channel contacted me a couple of weeks ago about the upcoming premiere of season two of their series entitled When Weather Changed History, which explores historical events that were influenced by weather. As a history buff, I was intrigued by titles like Titanic, Hindenburg Disaster, and D-Day Invasion.
I looked at my new October calendar today and realized that the first episode-ironically enough on the Galveston Hurricane of 1900-will premiere this Sunday night, so I sat my kids down this afternoon to watch one of the preview episodes I received. My two youngest, who are only intrigued by television shows featuring Dora or the Wonder Pets, were the only ones who weren’t glued to the set during our screening of “The Great Chicago Fire.” My eleven-year-old daughter said it was “cool” and “awesome.”
About the series:
Season Two will air Sundays at 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET, with a number of repeats throughout the following week. It will provide insights to weather’s effect on momentous historic events such as D-Day, the Titanic and the Hindenburg as well as in-depth exposition about well-known American experiences like the Dust Bowl, the Great Chicago Fire, and the Galveston hurricane. Through use of dramatic video and insider personal stories, When Weather Changed History uncovers key moments and discloses unexpected facts about each event. A theme running throughout the series is the epic struggle of man against the power of nature – and the dangers of underestimating that power.
EPISODE GUIDE: When Weather Changed History
The second season of this original series from The Weather Channel spotlights the weather that has impacted our world. Unexpected facts are revealed and highlight the ways in which the almighty power of nature has steered the march of history.
• Galveston Hurricane
September 8, 1900. One storm forever changes the Gulf Coast.
Stronger than Hurricane Andrew and more deadly than Hurricane Katrina, the September 11 attacks and the Chicago Fire combined. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 sweeps the booming city of Galveston away, opening the door for Houston to flourish (Premiere: Oct. 5, 9 p.m. ET)
• The Great Chicago Fire
October 8, 1871. Was it really Mrs. O’Leary’s cow?
The second season opens with a bit of myth-busting! Was it a cow or an unseasonably hot dry spell? While dispelling popular myths surrounding the legendary fire’s origin, the episode shows how Chicago was rebuilt with innovative new architecture, including the world’s first skyscraper.
• Dust Bowl
1931-1939. A severe drought and “black blizzards” plague a region
The rains stop on the U.S. high Southern Plains, and for ten years a severe drought turns the region to dust. More than 70 years later, modern science helps explain weather conditions that led to this natural disaster. Still today, the region can’t shake its dusty past and again finds itself amid a multi-year drought.
• Hindenburg Disaster
May 6, 1937. The golden age of airship travel comes to an end.
During a landing in severe thunderstorms at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, the Hindenburg bursts into flames and crashes. The tragedy brought an end to the popularity of Zeppelin airship travel and the common use of hydrogen as fuel. Hydrogen is now making a comeback as a component for cell phone towers, forklifts and even aircraft tugs.
• D-Day Invasion
May, 1943. Meteorologists determine launch details for the largest military force ever assembled.
The Allied forces devise a plan to liberate mainland Europe from the Nazis’ brutal grip by invading France at Normandy. The Allies need the weather to work to their advantage to win a decisive victory.
April 14, 1912. On her maiden voyage, the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks.
The unusual weather and abundance of floating icebergs on the North Atlantic Ocean plays a major role in this infamous tragedy. Transatlantic travel is changed forever as a result with new safety guidelines and the establishment of the International Ice Patrol.
Summer, 1945. Cloudy weather ultimately brings about the end of WWII
As World War II rages on in the Pacific, President Harry Truman and U.S. military leaders hope a powerful new technology can bring an end to the fighting. The Manhattan Project creates the atomic bomb and forever changes the face of warfare. Weather affects experimentation and the location and date of when the bombs will drop.
• Killer Smog
October, 1948. A thick fog in Donora, PA, paves the way for the Clean Air Act
Weather conditions in the thriving mill town of Donora forms a thick fog, which mixes with mill emissions and creates toxic fumes. For days, residents struggle to breathe, 20 people die and thousands get sick. This deadly fog was a wake-up call about air pollution and forever changed the U.S. view of environment and public health.
• Drowning the Heartland
June, 1993. The most severe, widespread flooding in U.S. history
Months of rain throughout the Upper Midwest help flood more than 150 lakes and rivers, causing hundreds of levees to fail, thousands of people to evacuate and at least 75 towns to be submerged. The 1993 flooding wrecks farmland and transportation systems and draws attention to failures of levee systems and building in flood plains.
• Green Town
May 4, 2007 – present. How one community rebuilds after tornado decimation
On May 4, 2007, an EF-5 tornado nearly two miles in diameter hits Greensburg, Kansas. About 95 percent of Greensburg is destroyed. The rural town’s spirit shows through in its attempts to rebuild as the greenest town in America. As the town leverages environmentalism to rebuild and sustain itself in the wake of near-total destruction, it just may be writing a modern survival guide for rural America.
• Deadly Heat
July, 1995. A silent killer hits Chicago and reinvents severe hot weather response
Just a nuisance to some, scorching temperatures and record humidity leave 739 dead among Chicago’s socially isolated, poor and elderly. The heat wave disaster forces Chicago to rethink its severe hot weather response and sets definitive criteria for what determines a heat-related death.
August 29, 2005. Costliest U.S. natural disaster and its social ramifications
Hurricane Katrina slams into Alabama, Mississippi and southeast Louisiana with 175 mph winds. The storm takes more than 1,500 lives, causes 200 billion dollars in damage and leaves countless people homeless. Even with cutting-edge forecasting technology, weather can still destroy a modern city, reinvent disaster preparedness, and send shockwaves through the country.
• Washington’s Weather
1775-1799. Weather’s role in the fight for independence by the father of our country
The military successes and failures of our nation’s first president, George Washington, hinge on weather. Weather conditions play a part in the Siege of Boston, the Battle of Long Island, the famous crossing of the Delaware River, and the army’s location at Valley Forge.
• Super Outbreak
April 3-4, 1974. The worst tornado outbreak of the 20th century defies myths
The April 3 forecast is mild. Instead, tornadoes break across the Heartland with intensity and frequency never seen before in the nation. Within 24 hours, 148 tornadoes kill 313 and injure 5,000. The outbreak debunks several tornado myths, and communities across the country improve tornado warning processes.
Although The Weather Channel thought that this series might appeal to my homeschool readers, I think it would be a hit for anyone who is fascinated by history and weather. The link to info about this series is here, links to video clips including full episodes can be found here.
Don’t miss the premiere this Sunday night!