VOLCANOES AND OTHER NATURAL PHENOMENA

Thirty years ago on 18 May Mt. St. Helens erupted, causing great destruction and loss of life. This event was commemorate by a "Volcanoes and other natural phenomena" theme for our second May meeting.

Hank Dinesen displayed a number of stamps from Iceland showing snow covered mountains, geysers and waterfalls. Bruce Chadderton asked if anyone had received mail from the UK that had been delayed by the recent Icelandic volcanic eruption, and showed a cover that indicated the letter had been delayed because of Icelandic volcanic ash. He quickly went on to confess that he had manufactured this cover earlier in the afternoon. Bruce Webber also spoke about volcanoes, noting that the 1898 New Zealand pictorials include scenes of Lake Taupo, which is volcanic in origin, while the Penny Universal has a boat sailing past Mount Taranaki.

Brian Marshall displayed a number of stamps relating to the weather. Mostly these had weather maps on them, although some commemorated organisations such as the World Meteorological Organisation. Brian went on to talk about the development of weather maps. The first British newspaper to publish a regular weather map was the London Daily News, in August 1848, using stationmasters at railway stations to provide the data. The London Times started publishing its daily weather map on 1 April 1875. The first American regular weather maps appeared from May 1879 in the New York Daily Graphic. Possibly the most important factor that allowed for the development of the weather map was the development of the telegraph. Telegraph reports allowed for data to be collected from a number of different and distant localities and combined to make a map.

The first weather reports published on the basis of telegraphic reports appeared at almost the same time in 1849 in England and the United States. Many telegraph stations were operated in conjunction with post offices, so the postal system had its part to play in the ability to construct early weather maps.

At the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, the Electric Telegraph Company used its circuits to collect at the Crystal Palace at 9am each day between August 8 and October 11, 1851, the wind direction, the state of the weather and the state the barometer from sixty-four places about the country. These were recorded on a great meteorological chart with moveable symbols and arrows displayed on its stand. The Company also printed its Weather Map every day on a press adjacent to the chart, and sold them to visitors for 1d a copy.

Then in 1859 Admiral Robert Fitzroy (one time Governor of New Zealand), a meteorological statistician for the Navy, introduced a system of Meteorological Telegrams. Weather readings from the coasts around England, Ireland and France were collected twice a day and telegraphed to a Meteorological Office in London. Here they were inscribed on maps and weather patterns could then be determined. This enabled a day or even two days notice before dangerous winds reached the British seas and ports. So these were maps, or charts, that forecast the weather, rather than showing the existing weather.

Ann Still concluded the evening by showing a number of postcards showing waterfalls. Many of them were from Switzerland, and come from one of her collections which is yet to be written up. One of the postcards showed the Rhone flowing from a glacier to Lake Geneva. Ann also included a postcard showing kauri logging on the Wairoa River in North Auckland.