Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Days of Warning


Why did Nebraska, Indiana, and Ohio suffer so many fatalities that fateful Easter Sunday, 1913? The violent tornadoes and flooding struck with no warning. Today many warning systems and weather safety awareness days help the public prepare. Here are a few resources.

What a difference a century makes. In 1913, meteorologists had no weather satellites or weather balloons, and did not yet know about high and low pressure areas, weather fronts, and how jet streams steer cyclonic systems across the continent (see “Be Very Afraid…”). Moreover, on Good Friday two days earlier, the commercial wireline communications systems of the era had been downed by a widespread, fierce windstorm, preventing the gathering of data or the distribution of warnings (see “The First Punch”).
To raise public awareness of severe weather akin to what afflicted the nation Easter weekend 1913, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers a spring safety resources outreach toolkit for tornadoes and other severe weather. Photo: Brad Goddard
Thus, no warning was relayed to people in tornado- or flood-prone areas. Indeed, fatally incorrect information was distributed in some areas. As a result, residents lacked precious moments to take shelter from tornadoes in cellars (see “‘My Conception of Hell’” and “Service Above Life”) or to clamber to higher ground to escape rivers rising with the speed of flash floods. As a tragic result, fatalities were stunningly high in regions with no warning (see “‘Death Rode Ruthless’). Fatalities were much lower farther down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, where cities had days to prepare for the devastating flood crests heading downriver.
Ruins of downtown Dayton, Ohio, immediately after the March 1913 floodwaters receded, while fires from ruptured gas mains were still smoldering. Library of Congress.

Warning systems
Thanks to various 20th- and 21st-century warning systems, if a repeat of the monstrous 1913 storm system struck the same areas, fatalities today due to the tornadoes and flood could well be only a fraction of what people suffered then—despite far higher population density (see “Like a War Zone”). On the other hand, infrastructure devastation could be much greater (see “Benchmarking ‘Extreme’”). 

 The National Weather Service offers any number of free email and SMS weather alert services. Smartphones can be equipped with any number of severe warning alert apps (through NOAA for free or through iTunes for a feesee websites at left). Individuals can purchase inexpensive portable NOAA weather radios (many offered online) capable of receiving the voice of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, whose 24/7 broadcasts are updated every 1 to 6 hours (see NOAA brochure and comprehensive website).
 
More traditional media include The Weather Channel or other cable TV channels devoted to weather, severe weather, and history of weather disasters. To distribute flood and tornado warnings, emergency alerts also break into standard radio and TV broadcasts. Local municipalities may also sound outdoor civil defense sirens (a/k/a air-raid sirens) to warn of imminently approaching tornadoes, especially to warn farmers, construction workers, or other people outdoors who may be away from any media (see, for example, here).

The why behind the warnings
Even today during natural disasters, despite the urging of meteorologists and first responders, people sometimes elect to stay in their homes regardless of evacuation warnings due to rising floodwaters or risk of a dam break, or delay taking shelter despite tornado warnings. Or they eyeball a flooded road, judge it to be shallow enough to risk driving through what just looks like a giant puddle, and end up in a car swept away by an unseen current (water is massive, and moving water can have terrific momentum: six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult, and a foot to 18 inches can sweep away most vehicles, including heavy SUVs). 

Some such dismaying tragedies could be preventable if people could fully understand the deadly force of floodwaters and dangers of severe weather.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 
(FEMA) poster says it all. FEMA also 
offers a Severe Weather Safety Social 
Media Toolkit for public outreach.
To that end, many national, state, regional, and local organizations sponsor free annual public educational events about weather and dam safety, as well as about related topics such as water infrastructure. 

Despite concerning important life-or-death subjects, some awareness days in some locales are run almost like street fairs: open to the entire family, maybe with field trips or visits to laboratories or facilities, public speakers who answer questions, free literature and perhaps emergency kits for adults, and coloring books or other giveaways for kids. Even for someone with some expertise in meteorology or hydrology, these events can offer crucial “aha!” moments useful for folding into future outreach.

Below is a round-up of weather and water awareness events, starting this month (Google or contact local city or county public works departments for details about specific events in your area).

Days of Awareness
The National Weather Service (NWS) used to sponsor national weather safety weeks, but has replaced that approach with a year-found program for a simple reason: different kinds of severe weather can occur anytime, not just one week in March (or another month). The new NWS approach is a National Seasonal Safety Campaign, to prepare the public for hazardous weather year-round; see also this seasonal preparedness calendar at Ready.gov. 
Calendar of weather and water preparedness
awareness events is condensed from
 this NOAA page to focus on the 
meteorology and geography of the 1913 flood.

Relevant to severe weather of the type that afflicted the nation Easter weekend 1913, March 1 kicks off with safety awareness of spring tornadoes: see the Weather Ready Nation spring safety resources outreach toolkit for tornadoes and other severe weather, put together by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
 
Individual states offer their own severe weather awareness weeks, tornado drills, and/or flood safety awareness weeks at times of the year appropriate to their regional meteorology (see master calendar of these events by state for 2017) . Check details for each state’s events on that state’s website (such as this for Ohio or this for Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa).

Since the Red Cross was so instrumental in relief and reconstruction in Ohio after the 1913 flood devastated great portions of the state—a story to be detailed in the future—it is relevant to point out that March is also American Red Cross month.

In Albany, New York, and other cities during the 1913 flood, record flood crests on the Hudson or Ohio or other rivers inundated the purification works that filtered (and perhaps also chlorinated) the urban water supplies (see “Rescuing Albany’s Water”), endangering the populations with floodwaters contaminated with human and animal waste and other toxins.
This 2013 article "Angry Waters" recounts how 
sanitation engineers in Albany, New York, rescued 
the city’s water-filtration plant during the 1913 flood 
as well as demonstrated the effectiveness of 
chlorination in combating typhoid fever.

Drinkable tap water is something so easily taken for granted that people often are amazed to discover that tap water is a manufactured product requiring impressive engineering. To highlight the importance of safe drinking water for sanitation and the prevention of devastating water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever, an alliance of organizations spearheaded by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annually sponsor Drinking Water Week in early May. The week also highlights the need for reinvesting in drinking water pipes and other infrastructure for tap water, which in many cities may be a century old. For 2017, Drinking Water Week is May 7–13; sample T-shirt art, a radio public service announcement, social media posts, children’s activity sheets, and other resources can be downloaded from this AWWA page.

Few dams failed in 1913, largely because few dams existed. But memories were fresh of the horrific Johnstown Flood of May 31, 1889 as the result of a failure of the South Fork Dam—still the deadliest U.S. dam disaster, claiming more than 2,200 lives. Thus during the 1913 flood, rumors of dam breaks that did not happen flew around Ohio and elsewhere—an incident in Columbus that led to a famous short story by humorist James Thurber (see “The Day the Dam Broke?”).

Newspaper account published in the Columbus Citizen 
 on March 27 during the height of the 1913 flood was almost 
James Thurber's plot for his famous short story “The Day the Dam Broke”
To perpetuate the lessons learned from the Johnstown Flood, since 1999, May 31 has been commemorated as National Dam Safety Awareness Day, spearheaded by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) and recognized by FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among others. Sample resources for planning a local Dam Safety Awareness Day appear here. For a thoughtful analysis of three dangerous dam safety myths that still persist today, see “An Unnecessary Tragedy” by Indiana Department of Natural Resources engineer Kenneth E. Smith.

Miscellaneous
Related to water resources in general is National Groundwater Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Groundwater Association; this year it is March 5–11. Globally, groundwater provides 25 to 40 percent of the world’s drinking water, and 60 percent of the water used in agriculture—indeed, it is the world’s most extracted  raw material (who knew?).

If you're an engineering junkie, as I am, you'll love
visiting water works. One year, I joined a tour at
Crown Filtration during Drinking Water Week.

For a global perspective, every March 22 is World Water Day. An international day to celebrate freshwater recommended 25 years ago at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the first World Water Day was held March 22, 1993 and annually since. Each year has a different theme to focus attention on different aspects of the importance of freshwater and the importance of sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme for the 2017 day is “Wastewater.” Other water awareness events include World Plumbing Day on March 11. Some drinking water and sewage treatment facilities will also provide speakers or give tours at other times; for example, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (ya gotta love its URL) will schedule tours for school groups and others.

And emergency radio first showed its power during the 1913 flood: read the full backstory at “Wireless to the Rescue! Birth of Emergency Radio.” Thus, each April 18, the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) commemorates World Amateur Radio Day; at the centennial of the 1913 flood, the 2013 theme was “Amateur Radio: Entering Its Second Century of Disaster Communications.” 

©2017 Trudy E. Bell
Next time: Forgotten ‘Harvest of Death’

Bell, Trudy E., The Great Dayton Flood of 1913, Arcadia Publishing, 2008. Picture book of nearly 200 images of the flood in Dayton, rescue efforts, recovery, and the construction of the Miami Conservancy District dry dams for flood control, including several pictures of Cox. (Author’s shameless marketing plug: Copies are available directly from me for the cover price of $21.99 plus $4.00 shipping, complete with inscription of your choice; for details, e-mail me), or order from the publisher.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

1913's Wild Weather


The unprecedented Great Easter Flood was only the beginning of a year of meteorological extremes. July 1913 brought the hottest recorded temperature on Earth—still the record—in Death Valley, and November a bizarre “white hurricane” in the Great Lakes. And, oh yes, a nationwide drought. Why?

1913 was a year of total weather whiplash. 

After monumental winter and early spring storm systems that brought unusually early tornadoes that still—over a century later—count as Nebraska’s deadliest, plus sustained intense rainfall across the Midwest that caused floods that still (2017) hold records across Ohio and Indiana, it was almost as if a meteorological faucet suddenly shut off.
In 1913, Death Valley reached the highest temperature on Earth. (This happened six months after Death Valley set its own record low temperature in January 1913. And 1913 was also Death Valley’s wettest calendar year on record for 102 years.) Credit: Trudy E. Bell

From April through August, rainfall over Indiana—so recently hammered by the worst flood in its history—virtually dried up in a sustained heat wave and drought. From June 15 through July 5, temperatures topped 90 degrees nearly every day, and soared above 100 on some. Parts of the state suffered rainfall up to 10 inches below normal, aggravated by hot winds, which damaged a wide variety of crops and diminished water supplies

Nor was Indiana alone: neighboring Illinois, Kentucky also sweltered. In Kansas and parts of neighboring states, the corn crop failed. In Oklahoma and parts of Texas, the cotton crop suffered. Over much of the country, fruits, nuts, and vegetables withered. Indeed, the 1913 heat wave and drought was felt from New England to the Rocky Mountains in a “period of about 12 weeks of almost continuous excess of heat,” according to Monthly Weather Review of the National Weather Service, which devoted more than 24 pages of its September 1913 issue to discussing the drought. The heat was accompanied by almost desert-like weather “with almost continuous sunshine, frequent hot winds, and deficient humidity” that “combined to produce one of the most disastrous seasons” on record.

In Death Valley, in the midst of its own 1913 summer heat wave that had temperatures bouncing off 125 and 130 degrees at Furnace Creek (then called Greenland Ranch), that the mercury soared to 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10. First cited as a high-temperature record for California, it later became recognized as the “highest authentic natural-air temperature that…had ever been recorded anywhere under approved conditions of equipment and exposure”—meaning anywhere in the world. (In 1922, it was claimed to be surpassed on September 13 by a temperature of 136 degrees in Azizia, Tripoli—now El Azizia, Libya—but in 2012 after nine decades of debate, an official investigation by the World Meteorological Organization overturned that claim due to instrumental and observer errors.) In short, the hottest temperature on the planet was recorded in Death Valley in summer 1913.

But wait, there’s more. On January 8, 1913, Death Valley also reached its own low-temperature record—9 degrees Fahrenheit. That may not sound like much to people in the Midwest and Northeast, but “the great freeze” (as it came to be called) devastated the citrus industry in southern California  and directly led to the U.S. Weather Bureau’s establishing of the fruit frost forecast program. And oh, yes, 1913 in Death Valley also set the record for being the wettest calendar year (4.54 inches from January through December, more than double the usual average annual rainfall of 1.94 inches)—a record sustained for more than a century until broken by the “superbloom” year of 2005 (4.73 inches).



The ‘white hurricane’
November 7–11, 1913, not even six months after the Great Easter deadly tornadoes and flood, another tragic weather catastrophe struck the Midwest: the nation’s greatest inland marine disaster. Sustained winds of 50 to 70 mph reached hurricane-force with gusts up to 90 mph whipped up waves as high as 35 feet on the Great Lakes, sinking at least 12 ships and killing at least 250. Cleveland was buried under more than 17 inches of snow dropped in less than 24 hours.

A centennial computational simulation revealed that (echoing the Great Easter storm system) disaster came as a devastating one-two punch: a “pre-storm” of Nov. 7–8 followed by the actual “white hurricane” to deliver what is called a “meteorological bomb.”
 
Whodunit? 
Weather around the world is always violent and setting records here and there. But the confluence of so many exceptional and powerful events in 1913 (and 1912) nonplused mariners and meteorologists alike at the time, along with others having trained astute weather eyes. “Atmospheric conditions have been deranged the world over for the last two years, and the oldest mariners say that nothing like it has been known within their memory,” reported one newspaper account. “Weather bureau officials say the last week or ten days” [meaning the time leading up to the Great Easter tornadoes and floods] “has presented the most extraordinary situation in regard to the weather that has existed since the creation of the bureau,” reported another.

When in March 2006 I was driving back from a conference in Omaha and discussing this by cellphone with the late historian of astronomy Craig B. Waff, he asked: “Do you think something like a volcano could have been a cause? I’ll google on 1912 and volcano. Bingo!” And he started reading aloud about Novarupta, the biggest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, on the Katmai peninsula in Alaska. 

Six months later, I was able to write an article (published October 3 in Science@NASA) about the possible effect that this high-latitude volcanic eruption might have had on weakening the 1913 monsoons in India, based on computational simulations at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In 2006, when I was interviewing one of the authors (Alan Robock of Rutgers), I asked about the possibility of Novarupta’s also having some influence on the Great Easter storm system, but he had not looked into U.S. effects. 

Quite independently, Air Force meteorologist Evan Kuchera—in his own reconstruction of the 1913 Nebraska tornadoes (see “To Build a Tornado”)—had also run across similar articles quoting the amazement of meteorologists at 1913 weather. “I take such comments very seriously, because meteorologists as a group are not given to hyperbole,” Kuchera said. 
My speculative question to the Omaha-Offutt chapter of the American Meteorological Society in a September 2014 presentation on the meteorology of the 1913 flood (same presentation was also the source of the other slides above).

In September 2014, when I was presenting an invited talk on the 1913 storm system to the Omaha-Offutt chapter of the American Meteorological Society, I asked the audience of meteorologists about the plausibility of some effect from such a major volcanic eruption. “Given its placement, it likely would have had the effect of strengthening the North Atlantic Oscillation, which could have had a forcing effect in the right direction,” Kuchera mused.

To be sure, a hypothesis is not a smoking gun, nor is a top-of-head hunch scientific proof. But a volume published by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2012 for Novarupta’s centennial noted that aerosols from the powerful eruption were still suspended in the stratosphere by late 1914, which likely would have affected the radiation budget of the earth. 

Historical measurements exist and modern feedback is encouraging that the question is at least worth exploring in a quantitative manner. I would welcome contact from any computational climatologist or other expert who would be willing/able to perform some kind of simulation using either the 20th Century Reanalysis Project (as Sarah Jamison did for the rainfall of the 1913 flood; see “Be Very Afraid… ) and/or another tool. Please e-mail me!

©2017 Trudy E. Bell

Next time: Desperate Medicine

Selected references
November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes 1913 Hurricane by Michael Schumacher was published by the University of Minnesota in 2014. See also the older White Hurricane by David G. Brown, International Marine, 2002. 

Bell, Trudy E., The Great Dayton Flood of 1913, Arcadia Publishing, 2008. Picture book of nearly 200 images of the flood in Dayton, rescue efforts, recovery, and the construction of the Miami Conservancy District dry dams for flood control, including several pictures of Cox. (Author’s shameless marketing plug: Copies are available directly from me for the cover price of $21.99 plus $4.00 shipping, complete with inscription of your choice; for details, e-mail me), or order from the publisher.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy Centennial Year + 4!

Happy New Year 2017 and thanks to all readers of this research blog! 100,000 views and counting, plus the annual subject index to posts about the nation's nearly forgotten most widespread natural disaster

Over the past four-plus years since “'Our National Calamity': The Great Easter 1913 Flood” (ONC) was launched in November 2012, this research blog has published 53 installments—most of them full-length heavily documented research articles—by guest authors as well as myself. That’s the equivalent of an entire book. A good many of them represent in-depth original analysis based on new primary sources. And they are read. As of the end of 2016, ONC has attracted more than 100,000 hits, and now averages 3,000 to 11,000 hits per month. A heartfelt thank-you goes out to every reader. 

As one of ONC's purposes is to provide a lasting, comprehensive guide to resources published about the March 1913 storm system, devastation, and its societal consequences and implications, broadly interpreted, below is my fourth annual New Year’s Day gift to historians, meteorologist, curators, descendants of sufferers: a handy subject index categorized by general topic. Also, an updated searchable running list in Word in reverse chronological order is also posted multiple times throughout the year at the top left link on the 1913 flood page of my website.

For meteorology of the powerful Great Easter storm system: 
To Build a Tornado (March 1, 2016) Not one, but three violent tornadoes struck the Omaha metro area in a single hour Easter Sunday 1913. What weather conditions built those tornadoes? Could they recur? By guest author Evan Kuchera, USAF meteorologist
Map of the modern Omaha metro area with the approximate tracks of what were called the Yutan, Omaha, and Council Bluffs tornadoes. From west to east, all three F4 tornadoes—some of the most violent that occur—struck within 20 miles and 45 minutes. Credit: Evan Kuchera

Terror in Terre Haute (May 1, 2015)  A modern reconstruction reveals that the violent tornado that ripped through southern Terre Haute, Indiana, on Easter night, March 23,1913, may have been more than one twister, and documents that its full path of destruction extended over 25 miles
Great Easter 1913 Dust Storm, Prairie Fires—and Red Rains (December 1, 2014) A mammoth Easter Sunday dust storm set raging prairie fires fires in two states and caused "blood rains" in three states
Earth-Shaking Mystery (October 1, 2014) Was a sizeable earthquake that rocked Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 28, 1913—just when the massive floodwaters were receding from Ohio and Indiana—somehow related to or even triggered by the Great Easter Flood?  
Be Very Afraid... (December 23, 2012) Why the Great Easter 1913 storm system could recur—profile of a computational reanalysis from 1913 data of what happened, by Cleveland-based National Weather Service senior hydrologist Sarah Jamison
“My Conception of Hell” (December 2, 2012) The Great Easter 1913 Omaha tornado
The First Punch (November 25, 2012) A mammoth Good Friday windstorm that decimated communications set the stage for national tragedy 

For facts and figures about death and destruction: 
Mapping Disaster (August 1, 2016) What is revealed when 1913 high-water measurements are input into today’s Geographic Information System (GIS) computational tools? By guest author Barry Puskas of the Miami Conservancy District
Dramatic digitized map of 1913 flood depths in Dayton, Ohio, was one of nine geo-referenced maps created by Barry Puskas and colleagues at the Miami Conservation District (MCD) between 2008 and 2012, synthesizing data from 1915 hand-drawn maps with modern GIS techniques.
Like a War Zone (March 16, 2013) A modern reanalysis of official documents, revealing that the destruction of property exceeded that of Hurricane Katrina, centered on the industrial North
“Death Rode Ruthless...” (February 18, 2013) A modern reanalysis of official documents reveals that a minimum of 1,000 lives were lost across 15 states (this is the second most viewed post in ONC, with nearly 2,000 views)

For victims’, rescuers’, and predators’ responses: 
Men of the Hour (April 1, 2016) Heedless of personal danger, a handful of police officers from the Indianapolis Police Department rescued over 600 people in devastated West Indianapolis during the Great Easter 1913 Flood. By guest author Patrick R. Pearsey
Captain George V. Coffin (middle) and Bicyclemen Charles Gollnisch and Thomas O’Brien (left and right) not only rescued West Indianapolis residents during the 1913 flood but also helped with relief and cleanup after the flood. Credit: Indianapolis Star

Service Above Life (September 1, 2015) Out of the rubble, mud, and ashes of Easter 1913 tornadoes and floods that devastated a third of the United States, Rotary discovered its mission of humanitarian service. Unpublished letters and meeting minutes discovered in Rotary’s archives reveal the backstory
Wireless to the Rescue! Birth of Emergency Radio (April 1, 2014) High school and college students are the first to establish quasi-reliable communications into the flood districts, and at the end of flood week bills for emergency radio are being presented to Congress
High-Wire Horror (February 1, 2014) First-person harrowing accounts from people trapped in houses who escaped approaching flames by literally tight-rope walking telephone lines over floodwaters to safety
Spurning Disaster Aid (September 1, 2014) Why did cities and individuals, even those who had lost everything, refuse relief?
Advertising Disaster (November 1, 2014) Within 24 hours, tornado insurance agents and others were clamoring for victims' cash

For significance today, including lessons for current-day disasters:
Crisis Communications in a Communications Crisis (July 1, 2016) When communications infrastructure is devastated for days or weeks in a horrific multistate natural disaster, how can city and state leaders or local volunteers orchestrate evacuations, aid, relief, and recovery? Where internet and electronics go out, lessons from the 1913 flood are useful
AT&T’s flooded facilities during the 1913 flood versus the flooded lobby of Verizon’s headquarters at 140 West Street in lower Manhattan almost a century later during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Message: Natural disaster can happen again and could disable 21st-century communications.

Misery in Missouri...and Beyond (February 1, 2016) The major December–January 2015–2016 flooding down the Mississippi River, the recent disaster raises thought-provoking questions
Spectacular drone footage at sunrise on New Year’s Day, 2016, of the Mississippi River at near-record height held back by the concrete floodwall at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Credit: Oral R. Friend
Katrina + 10: Once and Future Disasters (August 1, 2015) Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina—third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., based on central pressure—slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast, beginning the nation’s worst and most widespread disaster since the Great Easter 1913 flood. Ten harsh lessons from both
Prayers and Lessons (June 1, 2015) The massive multistate flooding in the southern plains states in late May 2015 actually approaches the magnitude of the multistate Great Easter 1913 Flood in some ways. Message: Extreme, widespread, non-hurricane rain events in the middle of the nation can happen again. Are we ready?
Floods and Other Disasters (February 1, 2015)  Despite more knowledge and ability to manipulate nature, we have increased our exposure and susceptibility to natural hazards. Why? Distinguished Carolina Professor Susan L. Cutter explores our current hazardscape
Benchmarking ‘Extreme’ (July 1, 2014) What infrastructure today would lie in harm’s way if 1913-scale tornadoes and flood recurred in the same places?
A greater concentration of people, of course, means a greater concentration of personal household wealth (automobiles, TVs, computers, cell phones, etc.) as well as greater commercial assets and infrastructure (schools, shopping centers, grocery stores, cell phone towers, internet servers).

For coverage in the 1913 media: 
Eloquence Beyond Words (April 1, 2015) The Great Easter 1913 national calamity inspired artists to depict fundamental truths in editorial cartoons more powerful and pithy than words or photographs
Screening Disaster (March 1, 2014) The 1913 flood may be the first natural disaster filmed while it was still in progress; includes links to surviving footage  
The Governor’s Ear (December 16, 2012) How two Bell Telephone engineers got the word to Ohio Governor James M. Cox

For enduring consequences: 
The Day the Dam Broke? (October 1, 2015) One of the humorist James Thurber's most famous stories was inspired by a bizarre incident during the 1913 flood in Columbus, Ohio. The backstory…
Magnum Opus (June 1, 2014) Stunning murals on concrete floodwalls in 13 Ohio River cities and towns keep history alive--including the 1913 flood 
Morgan’s Cowboys (January 20, 2013) What is the worst possible flood? And how can a city protect against it? A young engineer figures out how
Morgan’s Pyramids (January 27, 2013) Building the monumental but elegantly simple works to protect Dayton forevermore
 
Local histories: 
'Clevelanders Responding Nobly...' (May 1, 2016) Although crippled and without power itself during the Great Easter 1913 flood, Cleveland rushed aid to Dayton and Zanesville. And with telegraph and telephone wires downed, the Plain Dealer became the principal information lifeline across flooded northern Ohio 
Credit: Cleveland Leader, March 28, 1913, p. 2

Exhibiting Disaster (December 1, 2105) Not two years after the Great Easter 1913 flood, Dayton, Ohio, celebrated its comeback with an exhibit in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco—a city celebrating its comeback after the 1906 earthquake.
Never Before Seen (July 1, 2015) Eight previously unknown photographs of the 1913 flood purchased on ebay portray the flood at its peak in Rochester, New York. Who was the mystery photographer?
Explosion at Equality (March 1, 2015) On Sunday, April 6, 1913, the swollen Ohio River backed more than 20 miles up Illinois’s Saline River, flooding a coal mine that residents of Equality were desperately trying to save—exploding the mine
36 Hours: From Boys to Leaders (August 1, 2014) Fewer than 100 Culver Military Academy cadets rescued 1,400 Indiana residents; by guest historian Richard Davies, Ph.D.  
Tragedy at the Circus (February 10, 2013) Elephants and big cats were among fatalities when 1913 floodwaters swept through Peru, Indiana. By environmental historian Ron E. Withers, M.A.

Circus performer atop carcass of elephant drowned in 1913 flood in Peru, Indiana. Credit: Miami Co Museum
Rescuing Albany’s Water (January 13, 2013) It was also the Hudson River’s greatest flood—and what New York did about it
The Prisoners’ Feast (December 30, 2012) How the inmates of the Indiana State Reformatory saved the town of Jeffersonville from floodingand the unique response of the grateful residents  
The Villain Who Stole the Flood (December 9, 2012) How the 1913 flood in Dayton transformed NCR president John H. Patterson—a convicted felon—into a national hero  
An Unnecessary Tragedy: The Johnstown Flood (May 1, 2014) Describing three potentially fatal dam myths that still persist today; by guest author Kenneth E. Smith, P.E.

Resources, references,and centennial commemorations
Great Easter 1913 Disaster Library (November 1, 2016) Here in one place is an annotated bibliography of some three dozen modern books and half a dozen documentary films on the Great Easter 1913 natural disaster, which originally appeared in four separate posts over the previous four years 
Grisly Souvenirs (November 8, 2015) Dozens of souvenir booklets of photographs of death and destruction in individual cites sold tens of thousands of copies.  
Centennial Update: April through December (April 13, 2013)
Centennial Month! Events Update (March 3, 2013) 
Profiting from Pain (February 24, 2013) pulls back the veil on the dodgy instant-books industry in 1913 and its money-grubbing authors, who wrote under multiple confusing titles and pseudonyms, flagrantly violating copyright law to produce lurid subscription volumes that to this day keep cropping up and being cited as if they were authoritative references
Five 1913 instant disaster books, all plagiarizing other people's prose, were published and selling while the flood crest was still roaring down the Mississippi River. [Credit: Trudy E. Bell]

1913 Great Easter Disaster Centennial Update (February 2, 2013)  
Happy 1913 Centennial Year! (January 6, 2013) 

Miscellaneous
Reader Talk-Back (June 1, 2016)  Readers ask about the role of Gorge Dam in saving Akron during the 1913 flood, a mystery medal of honor, a great grandfather in Indianapolis who was a flood hero, and more. Some queries stump me—does another reader know?
Inch square medal from 1913 apparently awarded to Elijah Kirby, possibly for heroism during the 1913 flood. Does any reader have any idea about what organization struck and awarded the medals? Credit: Christy K.V.

Forget at Your Own Peril (April 3, 2013) Why is such an enormous disaster forgotten?  
“An Epidemic of Disasters” (November 16, 2012) Introduction and mission for this research blog  

I wish you a happy and healthy New Year! Thank you so much for your readership (and your patience with irregular postings during the move of my office and household). Watch for new research installments to be posted the first of each month throughout 2017! I welcome hearing your feedback: please e-mail me!

© 2017 Trudy E. Bell

Next time: Desperate Medicine

Bell, Trudy E., The Great Dayton Flood of 1913, Arcadia Publishing, 2008. Picture book of nearly 200 images of the flood in Dayton, rescue efforts, recovery, and the construction of the Miami Conservancy District dry dams for flood control, including several pictures of Cox. (Author’s shameless marketing plug: Copies are available directly from me for the cover price of $21.99 plus $4.00 shipping, complete with inscription of your choice; for details, e-mail me), or order from the publisher.