The coldest day, 1855

Source: Monthly Weather Review, September 1897


In the Transactions of the New York State Agricultural Society for the year 1859 there is published an elaborate report by the Hon. George Geddes of Fairmount on the history, geology, climate and agriculture of Onondaga County. In this Report at page 296, Mr. Geddes states, “Observations of the temperature have been taken at Fairmount at a point 520 feet above the sea for more than sixty years, and during that time a standard instrument in the shade protected from all reflection has never been observed to mark more than 94 in the hottest weather, and this but once in many years, and there have been but few days in the coldest weather that the mercury was not at sometime in the day above zero.

“February 5 and 6, 1855, were the coldest days ever known here. February 5, 6 am [was] 28 below zero… February 6, 6 am [was] 30 below zero. During this unprecedented weather, the sky was nearly cloudless, and as there was no wind, the severity of the weather was not so apparent.”

As Mr Geddes was a resident of Fairmount it seems plausible that he refers to some record of the temperature kept at that place by members of his own family, but so far as we can learn this temperature record for Fairmount is not referred to in any of the published tables of temperature for the State of New York. A record that began about year 1800 and was continuous until 1859 or later would of great value in climatological studies and if this still exists it should be not only preserved but made accessible for the use of students of climatology.

[The book referred to here was a continuous weather journal kept by Lucy Jerome Geddes beginning in 1797, with the daily recording taken over by her son George probably up until his death in the early 1880s.  The fate of this book is unknown.]


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