Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/401

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



FEBRUARY, 1873.



THE LAW OF STORMS DEVELOPED.
By PROFESSOR THOMPSON B. MAURY,
OF THE SIGNAL-OFFICE, WASHINGTON.

METEOROLOGISTS tell us that their science is as old as Aristotle. If we should judge by its progress up to the middle of the present century, its antiquity furnishes little to boast of; for, in the long lapse of centuries, it must have proved an incorrigibly dull scholar. Within the past few years, however, it has greatly improved, and, especially since it became identified with the popular and important systems of storm-warnings and weather-forecasts, it has been rapidly developed. This is peculiarly the case in America, and it is not wonderful, when we consider the comprehensive observations of our meteorological bureau, and the many beautiful phenomena which its publications disclose.

If Vasco Nunez, the discoverer of the great South Sea, was so awed by the grandeur and expanse of its waters, as seen with the naked eye, how much more may we be impressed as telegraphic meteorology enables us to discover, at a glance, the tossings and undulations of the aerial ocean over the larger part of the hemisphere!

It is to some of the deductions, that may be justly made from the extensive and synchronous observations of the modern weather-systems, as they bear upon those weather-problems, which, from time immemorial, have interested mankind, that we now ask attention.


Until the year 1821, "the law of storms," simple as it is, was unknown to the most profound meteorologists and expert seamen of the world. It was then first discovered and announced by Mr. William C. Redfield, of New York, and established by the labors of that great mind, against the constant perversions and opposition of the scientific empirics of his day. It can be easily comprehended in its great