Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/409

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393
THE LAW OF STORMS DEVELOPED.

mild and moderate storms.[1] "If a storm commences anywhere in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream, it naturally tends toward that stream, because," as Loomis says, "here is the greatest amount of vapor to be precipitated, and, when a storm has once encountered the Gulf Stream, it continues to follow that stream in its progress eastward." Vessels and Japanese junks, dismasted in gales off the Asiatic coast, have been drifted for many days in the current of the Kuro Siwo, to the coast of California, just as West-India beans, cocoa-nuts, and vegetables, have been drifted to Iceland, Greenland, and Spitzbergen, on the extension of the Gulf Stream. According to all meteorological observations of the tracks of storms, we are warranted in believing that cyclones and hurricanes do, as a matter of fact and of atmospheric law, run on the hot currents of the sea as naturally as the water-course clings to its bed. Practical seamen, though unable to explain the fact, are always on the lookout for these furious gales when sailing on the axial lines of the Gulf Stream, on the hot Mozambique current (the Gulf Stream of the Indian Ocean), and on the dark superheated waters of the Kuro Siwo of the Pacific.

So dangerous and disastrous are the storms which course along the Gulf Stream that sailors avoid it, and the American Sailing Directions and those of the British Admiralty advise all vessels, sailing from the West Indies to New York or Liverpool, to beware of taking advantage of its current, although it would help them along from three to four miles an hour. Close observation has traced these storms continuously from the Florida coast to New York, through Redfield's labors, and thence to England, through the record of the Cunard steamships, and thousands of detached observations.

 

We have now reached a point where we can properly and intelligently consider a question that has always baffled meteorologists—the origin of cyclones. The diagnosis of the phenomenon necessarily precedes its explanation. This subject has engrossed many minds, and various have been the ingenious devices for unravelling its mystery. Mr. Redfield—the father of storm physics—in his modesty and diffidence, so distrusted himself and in his day so keenly felt the need of a more enlarged induction of facts, that he has scarcely left us his opinion. The theories of other writers have all long since been abandoned by themselves or suffered to drop from the notice of the scientific world as evidently incapable of explaining the phenomena of cyclones. This has been the fate of them all, unless possibly we except the theory advanced by the great meteorologist, M. Dové, of Berlin. Briefly stated, the latter hypothesis is this (at least in its application to West-India hurricanes), viz., that "they owe their origin to the intrusion of the upper counter trade-wind into the lower trade-wind current" (Dové's "Law of Storms," p. 264).

  1. See Redfield's Report.