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Article
The Use of Ships' Protests for Reconstruction of Synoptic-Scale Weather and Tropical Storm Identification in the Late Eighteenth Century
Weather
  • Louis K. McNally
  • Kirk A. Maasch, University of Maine - Main
  • Kimberly A. Zuill
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
7-1-2008
Disciplines
Abstract/ Summary

Ships’ protests have been used for centuries as legal documents to record and detail damages and indemnify Captains from fault. We use them in this article, along with data extracted through forensic synoptic analysis (McNally, 1994, 2004) to identify a tropical or subtropical system in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1785. They are shown to be viable sources of meteorological information. By comparing a damaging storm in New England in 1996, which included an offshore tropical system, with one reconstructed in 1785, we demonstrate that the tropical system identified in a ship’s protest played a significant role in the 1785 storm. With both forensic reconstruction and anecdotal evidence, we are able to assess that these storms are remarkably identical. The recurrence rate calculated in previous studies of the 1996 storm is 400–500 years. We suggest that reconstruction of additional years in the 1700s would provide the basis for a reanalysis of recurrence rates, with implications for future insurance and reinsurance rates. The application of the methodology to this new data source can also be used for extension of the hurricane database in the North Atlantic basin, and elsewhere, much further back into history than is currently available.

Citation/Publisher Attribution
Mcnally, LK, Maasch, KA, and Zuill, KJ, 2008, The Use of Ships' Protests for Reconstruction of Synoptic-Scale Weather and Tropical Storm Identification in the Late Eighteenth Century: Weather, v. 63, p. 208-213. Available on publisher's site at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wea.272/abstract
Publisher Statement
© Copyright 2008 by the Royal Meteorological Society
DOI
10.1002/wea.272
Version
publisher's version of the published document
Citation Information
Louis K. McNally, Kirk A. Maasch and Kimberly A. Zuill. "The Use of Ships' Protests for Reconstruction of Synoptic-Scale Weather and Tropical Storm Identification in the Late Eighteenth Century" Weather Vol. 63 Iss. 7 (2008) p. 208 - 213
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kirk_maasch/6/