« ZurückWeiter »
The last of these hurricanes on the coast of Coromandel, which it seems necessary to mention, is that which happened on the 29th of October, 1768. Of this sufficient notice was given, but the officers of the Chatham Iodiaman, then in the road, did not avail themselves of it ; for on the preceding evening the sea was violently agitated, the sun set in a haze deeply tinged with red, with every other prognostic of a gale of wind. But unfor. tunately there had been a misunderstanding between the cap. tain and officers, and the former being on shore, the latter, probably waiting for orders, remained at anchor, notwithstanding they might have put to sea with the N.W. wind, which, as usual at the commencement of these hurricanes, blew off the land. The governor and council, who foresaw the danger even time enough to have prevented the loss of the ship, ordered signal guns to be fired with shot, by way of directing the officers to weigh anchor and stand out to sea; but either they did not hear the guns, or were too punctilious in waiting for orders, and in consequence of this inflexibility were lost, for the ship was never seen or heard of after the close of the evening of the 29th. It is possible they were not able to distinguish the signal guns, for many of the inha. bitants of the fort, during the violence of the hurricane, did not hear them, and the flashes of the guns might be mistaken by the officers of the ship for those of lightning. The vessels, lying at this time at a single anchor in the open road of Pondicherry, were not in the least disturbed by this hurricane; neither were the effects of it in the smallest degree felt at any of our settlements to the north. ward. Ships which put to sea in due time very soon get beyond their influence to the eastward, and it is very well known that they never extend far inland. All these circumstances properly consi. dered, clearly manifest the nature of these winds, or rather po. sitively prove them to be whirlwinds, whose diameter cannot be more than 120 miles, and the vortex seems generally near Madras or Pulicat, where a branch of the Ballagat Mountains extends to. wards the sea. Those which happen in the N.E. monsoon gene. rally fall with the most violence within a few leagues of this place, and never, I believe, reach to the S. of Porto Novo.
But at the commencement of the S.W. monsoon, violent gales are sometimes felt on the east side of Ceylon and the southera ex. tremity of the coast ; these however should be considered rather as
the tail of that on the Malabar coast, which extends itself orer Cape Comorin, near the southern extremity of the peninsula. In that quarter, however, such gales seldom occur, and are always of short duration.
One instance only is to be found in Mr. Orme's History of a violent hurricane to the southward. In this instance, wbich happened on the 13th of April, 1749, near Porto Novo, on the coast of Coromandel, two of the company's ships were stranded near Cudda. lore; and the Namur, one of Admiral Boscawen's squadron, with the Apollo hospital ship, foundered. This is the only instance known to me, in thirty-five years, of a hurricane on the Coroman. del coast during the S.W. monsoon, and the effects of this were not felt beyond 11 degrees N.
On the coast of Malabar, however, this monsoon frequently blows with considerable strength at the commencement; but it must be observed that it does not begin at the same time on all parts of the coast, nor does it proceed rapidly in its course towards the N. For although the change of the monsoon generally takes place at Anjengo about the time the sun becomes vertical at that place, it never reaches Bombay before the middle or rather the end of May; the latitude of the former is about 80° 30' N. and of the latter 19 degrees. On the 12th of April the sun is vertical at Anjengo, and about the 15th of May at Bombay. If then the difference of lati. tude and declination be compared, it will be found that the sun and the monsoon move almost precisely together, at the rate of about twenty miles per day: a circumstance, which above all others tends to prove that the sun's motion in the ecliptic is the primary, if not the sole case of the motion of the air, or rather of the course of the wind, at least in this part of the world, I mean on the Mala: bar coast.
Monsieur D'Apres however remarks, that the N.E. monsoon, in the Mosambique Channel, begins at the north end of Madagascar, and amongst the Cumero islands, in the first week of November; and at St. Augustine's Bay to the southward, at the end of the same month. If the distance of those two places in like manner be di. vided by the number of days, it will be found to correspond nearly with the daily difference of the sun's declination ; consequently this fact will further corroborate the truth of this hypothesis ; for the correspondence between the motion of the monsoon and the daily difference of the sun's declination is exactly the same, not only in India, but likewise in both the northern and southern he. mispheres.
I have no authentic account of hurricanes on the Malabar coast; but I recollect to have heard of one which happened in the month of May, 1762, off Goa, and of a second near Anjengo, which took place, I believe, about the middle of April, 1779. One of the company's cruisers was at that time lying at an anchor in the road; it attempted, too late, to put to sea, but was never afterwards seen.
From these accounts it seems very clear, that hurricanes never happen at the breaking up of the monsoons, nor precisely at their commencement, but rather some time after the change, and that they are local and of short duration. But this description of them is not confined to the Malabar coast, nor to that of Coromandel, they rage with equal if pot superior violence in the southern he. misphere, particularly about the latitude of 20 degrees S. near the French islands, where many ships have been in great danger of pe. rishing from their effects, amongst the rest the Ilchester Indiaman, in the year 1757. But the most accurate and authentic account, which I have received of hurricanes in these latitudes, was that of the hurricane which the Britannia Indiaman encountered in the year 1770. Op the 10th of March, about midnight, the wind sud. denly burst upon the ship from the S.E. and blew with considerable force, but shifted all round the compass in the course of a few hours. Between five and six in the morning a sudden gast carried away their topmasts and gib-boom, when lying to under a ba. lanced mizen; and nearly about the same instant the jolly-boat, hanging over the side by the mizen chains, was suddenly whirled up into the mizen shrouds, whence it fell into the sea, and was dashed in pieces. The wind having blown nearly with equal strength from opposite quarters, prevented the sea from rising, so that at the end of ten hours, when it subsided, the sea bore but very little
appeare ance of having been violently agitated.
The following day, the rigging being repaired, they proceeded a few leagues to the westward, and met a French vessel that had not felt the burricane; they were likewise overtaken by another ship which had followed the same track as the Britannia without suf. fering the least inconvenience from it. These circumstances prove
positively, that in an east and west direction, this hurricane had not extended above 30 leagues, and likewise that the ship was nearly in its centre.
Thus then it appears that these tempests or hurricanes are tor. nadoes, or local whirlwinds, and are felt with at least equal vio. lence on the sea.coast, and at some little distance out at sea. But there is a material difference in the situation of the sun when they appear at different places. On the coast of Coromandel, for ex. ample, they seldom happen, particularly to the northward, except when the sun is in the opposite hemisphere. On the Malabar coast they rage with most violence during the monsoon, whilst the sun is almost vertical. Near the island of Mauritius they are felt in January, February, and March, which may be deemed their summer months. And in the West Indies, according to Mr. Ed. wards's History of Jamaica, the hurricane season begins in August and ends in October.
3. Hurricane in Huntingdonshire, Sept. 8, 1741.
By Mr. S. Fuller, of Trin. Col. Camb.
This was the most violent hurricane of wind in these parts, that ever was known since the memory of man. Cambridge was not in the midst of the hurricane, so that it has escaped very well. Mr. F. happened to be at Bluntsham in Huntingdonshire, about ten miles north-west of Cambridge. They were there in the midst of the hurricane. The morning, till half an hour after eleven, was still, with very hard showers of rain. At half after eleven it be gan to clear up in the south, with a brisk air, so that they expected a fine afternoon. The south-west cleared up too, and the sun shining warm drow them out into the garden. They had not been out above ten minutes, before the storm was seen coming from the south-west: it seemed not to be thirty yards high from the ground, bringing along with it a mist, rolling along with such incredible swiftness, that it ran about a mile and a half in half a minute. It began exactly at twelve o'clock, and lasted about thirteen minutes, eight minutes in full violence : it presently uncovered the house, and some of the tiles, falling down to windward, were blown in at the sashes, and against the wainscot on the other side of the room; the broken glass was blown all over the room; the chimneys all
escaped; but the statues on the top of the house, and the ballu. strades from one end to the other, were all blown down. The stabling was all blown down, except two little stalls. All the barns in the parish, except those that were full of coro quite up to the top, were blown flat on the ground, to the number of about sixty. The dwelling houses escaped best; there were not above twelve blown donn, out of near one hundred. If the storm had lasted five minutes longer, almost every house in the town must have been down; for they were all, in a manner, rocked quite off from their underpinnings. The people all left their houses, and carried their children out to the windward side, and laid them down on the ground, and laid themselves down by them; and by that means all escaped, except one poor miller, who went into his mill to secure it against the storm, which was blown over, and he was crushed to death between the stones and one of the large beams. All the mills in the country are blown down. Hay-stacks and coro-stacks are some quite blown away, some into the next corner of the field. The poor pigeons that were caught in it, were blown down on the ground, and dashed to pieces. Wherever it met with any boarded houses, it seemed to exert more than ordinary violence on them, and scattered their wrecks above a quarter of a mile to the north. east in a line : Mr. F. followed one of these wrecks; and about 150 yards from the building, he found a piece of a rafter, many feet long, and about six inches by four, stuck upright two feet deep in the ground; and at the distance of 400 paces from the same build. ing, was an inch board, nine inches broad, fourteen feet long : these boards were carried up into the air; and some were carried over a pond above thirty yards; and a row of pales, as much as two men could lift, were carried two rods from their places, and set upright against an apple tree, Pales, in general, were all blown down, some posts broke off short by the ground, others torn up by the stumps. The whole air was full of straw : gravel-stones, as large as the top of the little finger, were blown off the ground in at the wir. dows; and the very grass was blown quite flat on the the storm was over, he went out into the town, and such a miser. able sight he never saw: the havoc above described; the women and children crying, the farmers all dejected; some blessing God for the narrowness of their escape, others wondering how so much mischief could be done with one blast of wind, which hardly lasted