Luke Howard

Today (Wednesday 28th) is the 240th anniversary of the birth of Luke Howard – the “father of meteorology” and the man who named the clouds.

He was born in Stamford Hill, north London but a business opportunity enable him to set a up a laboratory business in Plaistow then Stratford where he spent a large part of his life, later moving to Tottenham. A manufacturing chemist by trade his real passion was meteorology and he devised a nomenclature system for clouds, which he proposed in an 1802 presentation to the Askesian Society. He published “The Climate of London” in 1818 and again in 1830 – which was a diary of weather records. One of the entries August 14th, 1827, mentions a thunderstorm on Wanstead Flats.

“On Saturday evening 11th the inhabitants of Wanstead Flats in Essex and its vicinity were thrown into great consternation by one of the most violent thunder storms that has occurred within the memory of the oldest inhabitants. It commenced about six o clock and raged with the greatest violence until near seven. One man named Scales, a blacksmith, was struck by the lightning and knocked down after some time, however, he recovered the shock and sustained no injury other than that produced by extreme fright. Two large trees were literally shivered to atoms.”

Another thing of note from Howard’s weather diary is the frequency of sightings in London of the Aurora Borealis. He mentions that the Northern Lights were visible eight times over a period of nine years, four of these being between mid October 1819 and mid January 1820. On the morning of January 15th, 1820, Howard  records a low temperature of minus 18C!

I’ve been recording the weather in this area since 1988 and have only managed a low of minus 9.1C!

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