No, I’m not talking about the summer of 2015, though as I write this with the lights on and rain pouring down outside it’s an easy mistake to make. Look on the bright side though- at least we have electric lights and central heating. ( and old lady Jack Russells, who are the best- if slightly smelly- way to keep warm.)
Back in 1816 there was no summer. Temperatures stayed cool- a good 2 or 3 degrees below average-and skies remained overcast. Rainfall was heavy, frosts were reported and spectacular thunderstorms witnessed. The poor weather meant crops failed, which led to high food prices and for many, famine.
At the time, the unseasonal weather was blamed on comets, religion, superstition- theories were many and varied. The true reason was a volcano which had erupted a year earlier in April 1815 in Indonesia. Mount Tambora spewed millions of tons of volcanic ash up into the atmosphere. This, coupled with low solar activity signalling the beginning of a ‘mini-ice age’, meant temperatures during 1816 were unusually low.Which brings me on to writing. My current WIP is set in the summer of 1816. It’s loosely based on the writing of ‘Frankenstein’, and the myths and stories that surround it.It’s thought Mary Shelley’s novel was inspired by the freak weather she encountered during her stay at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. Violent thunder and lightning storms were a daily occurrence. The weather was so cold some Alpine glaciers continued to expand all summer, and the snow that fell was reported to be brown and red!
So next time you moan about the weather remember- it could be worse. Just.