Much muttering and cries of “unprecedeted” from the alarmists about Russia’s 2010 heatwave and the resulting forest fires.
From Guardian comment contributor Trofim:
1298: There was a wholesale death of animals. In the same year there was a drought, and the woods and peat bogs burnt.
1364: Halfway through summer there was a complete smoke haze, the heat was dreadful, the forests, bogs and earth were burning, rivers dried up. The same thing happened the following year . . .
1431: following a blotting out of the sky, and pillars of fire, there was a drought – “the earth and the bogs smouldered, there was no clear sky for 6 weeks, nobody saw the sun, fishes, animals and birds died of the smoke.
1735: Empress Anna wrote to General Ushakov: “Andrei Ivanovich, here in St Petersburg it is so smoky that one cannot open the windows, and all because, just like last year, the forests are burning. We are surprised that no-one has thought about how to stem the fires, which are burning for the second year in a row”.
1831: Summer was unbearably hot, and as a consequence of numerous fires in the forests, there was a constant haze of smoke in the air, through which the sun appeared a red hot ball; the smell of burning was so strong, that it was difficult to breathe.
The years of 1839-1841 were known as the “hungry years”. In the spring of 1840, the spring sowings of corn disappeared in many places. From midway through April until the end of August not a drop of rain fell. From the beginning of summer the fields were covered with a dirty grey film of dust. All the plants wilted, dying from the heat and lack of water. It was extraordinarily hot and close, even though the sun, being covered in haze, shone very weakly through the haze of smoke. Here and there in various regions of Russia the forests and peat bogs were burning (the firest had begun already in 1839). there was a reddish haze, partially covering the sun, and there were dark, menacing clouds on the horizon. There was a choking stench of smoke which penetrated everywhere, even into houses where the windows remained closed.
1868: the weather was murderous. It rained once during the summer. There was a drought. The sun, like a red hot cinder, glowed through the clouds of smoke from the peat bogs. Near Peterhoff the forests and peat workings burnt, and troops dug trenches and flooded the subterranean fire. It was 40 centigrade in the open, and 28 in the shade.
1868: a prolonged drought in the northern regions was accompanied by devastating fires in various regions. Apart from the cities and villages affected by this catastrophe, the forests, peat workings and dried-up marshes were burning. In St Petersburg region smoke filled the city and its outlying districts for several weeks.
1875: While in western europe there is continual rain and they complain about the cold summer, here in Russia there is a terrible drought. In southern Russia all the cereal and fruit crops have died, and around St Petersburg the forest fires are such that in the city itself, especially in the evening, there is a thick haze of smoke and a smell of burning. Yesterday, the burning woods and peat bogs threatened the ammunitiion stores of the artillery range and even Okhtensk gunpowder factory.
1885: (in a letter from Peter Tchaikovsky, composer): I’m writing to you at three oclock in the afternoon in such darkness, you would think it was nine oclock at night. For several days, the horizon has been enveloped in a smoke haze, arising, they say, from fires in the forest and peat bogs. Visibility is diminishing by the day, and I’m starting to fear that we might even die of suffocation.
1917 (diary of Aleksandr Blok, poet): There is a smell of burning, as it seems, all around the city peat bogs, undergrowth and trees are burning. And no-one can extinguish it. That will be done only by rain and the winter. Yellowish-brown clouds of smoke envelope the villages, wide swaithes of undergrowth are burning, and God sends no rain, and what wheat there is in the fields is burning.
Other chronicles I’ve found in the past (and lost the links) catalogue deep cold events in various parts of continental Europe. Do readers have any more?