People in every age, I suppose, have been interested in weather. Mark Twain once observed, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Donald DeYoung has written, “People talk about the weather more than any other topic, including sports and politics. It is one of the first things we wonder about when a new day begins” (Weather and the Bible, page 13).
Weather extremes also fascinate us: (1) The hottest temperature ever recorded in the shade on earth was 136.4°F at Azizia, Libya (Sept. 13, 1922). Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California comes in second, it reached 134°F (1913). Dallol, Ethiopia has the highest annual mean temperature at 93.3°F. Marble Bar, Western Australia had 160 consecutive days with 100°F or higher (Oct. 31, 1923 – April 7, 1924). (2) The coldest temperature on earth ever recorded is -129°F at Vostok, Antarctica (July 21, 1983). The coldest permanently inhabited place is Oymyakon, Siberia, Russia -90°F (1933). Langdon, North Dakota had 41 days below 0° (Nov. 11, 1935 – Feb. 20, 1936). International Falls, Minnesota has an annual mean temperature of 36.5°F. (3) The fastest known change in temperature was on January 22, 1943 in Spearfish, South Dakota. The temperature rose 49°F in just two minutes (-4°F to 45°F). Browning, Montana had a 100° change in one day (44°F to -56°F), in the year 1916. The greatest range is in Verknoyansk, Siberia, Russia, with 188°F (-90°F to 98°F). (4) The highest recorded wind speed was in a tornado in Wichita Falls, Texas (April 2, 1958) the speed was 280 mph. Mount Washington in New Hampshire had a wind gust of 231 mph. (5) The driest place on earth is found in northern Chile. Coloma, Chile didn’t have a drop of rain from 1570 to 1971. (6) The wettest place on earth is in Cherrapunji, India, it rained 366.14 inches in a month (July) and an incredible 905.12 inches total that same year (1861)! Mt. Waialeale, Kukui, Maui, Hawaii averages 460 inches of rain each year (739 inches fell from Dec. 1981 to Dec. 1982). Mawsynram, India averages 467.5 inches per year, world’s greatest mean. Central Uganda averages 242 thunderstorm days per year. The largest rainfall in one day (24 hours) was 73.62 inches at Cilaas, La Reunion (Indian Ocean); In the United States is was 43 inches in Alvin, Texas (July 25-26, 1979). The largest rainfall in one hour is 12 inches in Holt, Missouri and at Kilauea Sugar Plantation, Hawaii. The most intense rainfall was 1.5 inches in one minute in Basse – terre, Guadelope, French West Indies (Nov. 20, 1976). Most rain days per year is 350 days at Mt. Waialeale, Hawaii. (7) The most sunshine is in Yuma, Arizona averaging 91% sunshine. St. Petersburg, Florida recorded 768 consecutive sunny days (Feb. 9, 1967 – Mar. 17, 1969). (8) The deepest snow: in 1971 – 1972 season in Mt. Ranier, Washington received 1,122 inches (93.5 feet). In 1921 6.3 feet fell at Silver Lake, Colorado in just 24 hours. (9) The strangest, on June 16, 1939 in Trowbridge, England it actually rained frogs. Strong winds had lifted the creatures aloft. In 1984 live six-inch flounders fell on a London neighborhood. A waterspout had lifted them from the Thames river. With all this said:
1. In Matthew 16:1-ff, Jesus scolds those who discern such physical matters, but are not spiritually discerning. He said, “When it is evening ye say it will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today for the sky is red and lowering…” Others have said, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” “A red sunset results when the western sky is especially clear. The color occurs because the sun is low in the sky and its light passes through additional atmosphere. The condition is enhanced if a stable high pressure region is present. This high pressure suppresses cloud formations and also hold air contaminants near the earth. These in turn ’scatter’ the colors of sunlight and cause the reddening effect in the west. In the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere weather patterns usually approach from the west. Since ‘highs’ bring good weather, red skies in the evening indicate that fair weather is probably approaching from the west. On the other hand, if the red appears in the eastern morning sky, then the high pressure region has already passed through. Sometimes, evening redness (in the east, B.H.) is due to sunlight reflecting off a retreating cloud layer in the east. Likewise, morning redness in the west may be due to an advancing cloud layer” (Weather and the Bible, p. 24).
Why is it that some pay attention to physical things so closely, but neglect what is spiritually important?
2. On another occasion in Luke (12:54-55) Jesus also expressed His displeasure over the same. They could discern that if a cloud arose in the west (off the Mediterranean Sea) they likely would receive rain. They also understood that if the south wind (off the desert) blew they likely would receive scorching heat. But they did not understand the signs which Jesus did.
3. About what do we talk to our friends? The book Coping: A Biblical Approach by Stephen Lloyd contain these statistics by Flavil Yeakley: (1) 30% have friends in the church but do not visit them. (2) 50% have friends in the church and visit them but there is no spiritual dimension to the visit (p. 147). Let us move beyond talking about the weather, sports and politics. Let us be as “iron sharpeneth iron” (Prov. 27:17).
Fascinating books on weather for Bible students:
1. Weather and the Bible by Donald B. Young.
2. The Weather Book by Michael Oard