Of the late, tremendous tornado. Or not.
Detail of capsized ships (broadside SY1792 no. 29)
This city and vicinity were exceedingly alarmed, last Sabbath, about four o’clock, P.M. by a tremendous westerly tornado, which continued about 20 minutes, twisting off limbs of trees, unroofing houses, and tumbling down chimnies [sic] … Terrible was the havoc on the water….
Sound familiar? Except for the unorthodox spelling, this newspaper account of wild weather reads like any published in recent months, but it ran originally on July 4, 1792: “last Sabbath” was July 1st — 219 years ago today — and “this city,” surprisingly, was New York.
The storm’s fury is recounted by a broadside with a long, chilling title beneath a row of twenty black coffins: A True and Particular Narrative of the late Tremendous TORNADO, or HURRICANE, at Philadelphia and New-York, on Sabbath-Day, July 1, 1792: When several Pleasure-Boats were lost in the Harbor of the latter, and Thirty Men, Women and Children, (taking their Pleasure on that Sacred Day) were unhappily drowned in Neptune’s raging and tempestous [sic] Element!!!!!!! (Boston: Ezekiel Russell, 1792).