I am a political junkie. I have been since I was five years old. There were two things I loved (besides my family) when I was five: The weather and John Kennedy. I was the entertainment at my parents’ parties…getting up on the hassock and imitating JFK saying “Ask not what your country and do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” Then I had to go to bed because it was “lights out” for me at 7 p.m.
In any case, Rasmussen Oct 21 had the approval rating of President Trump and President Obama tied at the same level on that date before their respective elections. But the October surprise was not yet to come, though this is the anniversary of the first weatherbell.com map of a landfalling hurricane on the NJ coast! Oct. 21 was a Sunday afternoon and the tropical update went out forecasting the tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean to develop, and then follow the path of the Euro, which did a great job on Sandy, up into the east coast. I often refer to this as getting the maps from Hazel — though displaced a bit further east, dropped into my lap. Sandy was the October surprise. After all there was very little dirt you could dig up on Romney (other than perhaps that he soaped someones windows or cut someones hair). So this was a weather “surprise” as far as the political realm goes — but if you were a subscriber it certainly was not, and in fact probably had your juices flowing from over a week out.
How did it change the course of history? The grace that the president handled Sandy and the co-operation with the governor of NJ was the best of reactions to this disaster. We saw some of that at the start of COVID with the rapid building of hospitals in NY, but of course that was not long for this world and was not weather related. But Sandy and the 2012 election were. Romney had to stop campaigning for 3 days (and in doing so showed class), but it was the president who really stood out with the Governor of NJ. But for Sandy coming onto the scene, things may have been different. I can’t really say, but I can say that it was an impressive display in my opinion of how to react when called upon and I do think it tipped the scale a bit. The appearance of Sandy changed the course of history, since a change in the top may have led to a different turn of events from that time on.
Who knows where would be today?
How about JFK? The rain cleared out that morning. What if it had not –as all the forecasts the night before indicated it was going to be rainy cold day in Dallas. If so, there’d likely be no crowds. In addition, the top of the motorcade would have been up. No clear shot at the president by the shooter(s?) either. Given JFKs love and admiration for MacArthur who always cautioned against a land war in Asia, who knows if we would have committed to Vietnam the way we did. And IMO Vietnam was the end of the innocence in the public-government relationship, as the nation grew much more cynical after that.
Then there’s the Battle of the Bulge. If not for the arrival of the cold high front from the east and freezing up of all the mud, one has to wonder if the Germans would have dug in and held on all winter. That slowed the advance in the spring just enough so the German scientists, who were closing in on their own nuclear weapons, would have had the time to get there. Of course its always assumed that this was the case, but at the very least, the freezing up of the roads led to a faster resolution of the problem.
Of course, D-Day speaks for itself. The ultimate forecast by US meteorologists, and one I wonder every day, given what they had, if I could have made as well as they did.
9/11. The large hurricane that was offshore was far enough away so the surface ridge to the west was in perfect shape to provide what, for most people, was a spectacular September day in the morning. But that same great weather (odd isnt it, like the 2 examples above, it is the leaving of bad weather that led to the problems) made the conditions perfect for the hideous results we all witnessed. If the hurricane were closer in, the resultant delays would have led to a disruption of the plans. And of course if it the hurricane was actually hitting our coastline, nothing would be flying. Again a change
There are others. One of the guys in my dorm who was majoring in history back when I was in college used to always tell me he thought the Spanish Armada being blown apart was one. But for a guy that looks at the past weather like me, there are many, many examples. In our personal lives we all have examples of how the weather has impacted us. In the end, it gives me a sense of humility in that I know we are really not in control. Be it weather or whatever, one has to be able to adjust and react to the circumstances — though it sure helps to know what may be coming in beforehand, which of course is what we try to help people with. In the end, I guess in comes down to what Robert Burns once famously said:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley