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1816: The Year Without a Summer

Heat is coming………but what if there was no summer? That’s exactly what happened in 1816. Referred to as “the poverty year,” 1816 was literally a year without summer across much of the Northern Hemisphere. An exceptionally cold summer — featuring killing frosts in July and August — crippled food production. Crop failures and food shortages were so widespread that rioting and looting became common. Many residents of New England pulled up stakes and moved to the Midwest, where the cold was less severe. On July 4th of that year, the high temperature in Savannah, Georgia, was a chilly 46º, and lakes and rivers in Pennsylvania were frozen over in August. So, what caused such a cold summer? The likely suspect was a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred during the winter of 1815, particularly the eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia — believed to be the biggest eruption of the last 1,800 years. The ash insulated the earth from the heat and light of the sun, resulting in a cooling effect throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Fortunately, a summer like that of 1816 has yet to repeat itself.