My great great… grandfather was extremely interested in weather patterns and always kept a detailed daily record of weather conditions at his farm. The strange weather this area experienced during the years of 1888-1889 was of great concern to him and featured prominently in his diary entries for those years.

It is easy to understand why he saved this particular newspaper article about another year with no summer… a previous equally strange… but thankfully only temporary… year of weather anomalies.


In 1816 There Was Frost on the Ground Every Month.

“The open winter” of 1888-89 will have a companion when the history of the century is written. The year 1816 enjoyed an “open winter” during the entire 12 months, being frequently referred to by contemporaneous writers as “the year without a summer.” All through the settled portions of the United States there was a frost in every month, crops were ruined and farmers called it the year of “Eighteen hundred and starve to death.” Snow fell in November of 1815, but there was none in December or January to speak of. Christmas and New Year were “warm, open and green,” and faithful to the old saw that “a green Christmas makes a fat churchyard,” the old people predicted all sorts of dire calamities. January was a very mild month, the sun shone every day, and a little snow that fell hardly covered the earth and soon melted.

People prepared for great storms and extreme cold weather in February, but were disappointed, as it was even milder than January. Toward the end of the month and during the first days of March a terrible storm raged and gave place to cold and boisterous winds. The weather in January was repeated in April, but grew colder as the days passed, ending with snow and ice and very low temperature. In May ice formed an inch thick on the rivers and streams. Buds and flowers were frozen, and the entire corn crop was killed. Frost, ice and snow were common in June, and all attempts to raise vegetable products failed. The condition of the farmers is described as being desperate, and they were compelled to hoard their crops of the year preceding, which necessitated a big increase in prices. Almost everything was killed, and the fruit was nearly all destroyed.

July was accompanied with ice and frost. July 4 was cold and a blustering wind, raw and uncomfortable, swept the entire Atlantic coast. On the following day ice was formed of the thickness of window glass in New York city, all through New England and in Pennsylvania. In August ice half an inch thick was frequently seen. September and October presented a nearer approach to summer weather than any other month in the year, but in November extreme cold weather began, and a severe winter continued up to April, when summer began, and permitted the farmers to realize bounteous crops.

The same condition of affairs existed in England as in this country, only it was not so severe. In Central New York it is stated corn was so badly frozen in the summer that it was cut down and dried for fodder. The warm weather in January so encouraged a Vermont farmer that he planted corn, and in fact some of it was in good condition during March.

I have no further information about this very old newspaper clipping except for the “1889” written in pencil in a back margin. I would guess that this article came from the same unidentified Boston newspaper that my great great… grandfather often mentioned in his diary entries.

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Here is some more info from an article I found. “It would be more than a century before anyone understood the reason for the bizarre weather disaster: the eruption of an enormous volcano on a remote island in the Indian Ocean a year earlier had thrown enormous amounts of volcanic ash into the upper atmosphere.

The dust from Mount Tambora, which had erupted in early April 1815, had shrouded the globe. And with sunlight blocked, 1816 did not have a normal summer.”

Thanks for the VERY COOL bit of history!


Wow! Winter in the summer time. That’s very interesting. We’ve been having very strange weather these days as well – extreme weather if you will. I hope it’ll be better soon.


The Mount Tambora eruption of 1815 on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia is said to be the cause of this weather oddity. Makes me stop and think that we all are effected in some way or another by happenings so far away. We are a small planet in many ways.


Thank you for posting this. Sometimes we think that we’re the only ones experiencing strange weather conditions and that when something big happens climate-wise, that it’s the first time it’s ever happened in the history of the world. It’s good to go back and look at history and see that they had their share of weather oddities in the past too.

Ed T.

We grow all of the vegetables we eat. I can’t imagine encountering weather so bad we couldn’t still have a garden. I guess it proves that we can’t count on anything staying the same. I really enjoyed this post.

Ryan W

I could throw in a very significant religious result from this frozen year of 1816, but I’m not sure you want religion introduced to your discussions! I am LDS and our ‘founder’ was Joseph Smith. His family lived in Vermont, and needed an impetus to get them to move to New York where important things waited for him. That icy year, 1816, is what did it. They couldn’t grow any crops in Vermont and chose to move to Palmyra in upstate New York. This is where LDS history really began to unfold.

We like to say it took a volcano on the other side of the world to start the LDS church!


What an Interesting Article.
I had no idea that there was a year like that.
How tough for the people to be tested at that time. They would have had faith and trust in Jesus that he wouldn’t let them starve.
Could you imagine the problems that would result if that were to happen today. So much of our food is kept in super Markets in limted quanties at a time.


Vintage, people did starve and disease was more rampant. The year without summer was, what is called, a volcanic winter- creating a significant temperature drop, worldwide. As a result, in some areas food couldn’t be grown at all and a famine occurred in many regions. Worst areas affected were Eastern North America, Western Europe, and parts of Asia. In Ireland, there was an outbreak of typhus as a result of the famine and the cold temperatures aggravated the spread of cholera in India. European fatality doubled to 200,000 that year, as a result. This wasn’t just a difficult year of relying on provisions stored from the previous year, it was a agricultural disaster of epic proportions.
What is scary is that an event, the eruption of Tambora, so far away could have such devastating effects worldwide- and that we are not immune from such an occurrence today.