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Dark Day

atmosphere, days and fires

DARK DAY, a name frequently used in this country in connection with 12 May 1780, but applied also to days on which similar phe nomena have been discerned. On the date men tioned the atmosphere in New England was so obscure as to cause in some places cessation from outdoor labor. Birds and domestic fowls acted as during an eclipse. The darkness began at 10 and lasted until night, causing a feeling of alarm by its unprecedented nature. There ap pears to have been an absence of clouds for the most part, though light rain occurred. Though known as the Black Friday of New England, the area covered by darkness also extended west of that section. Two dark days are recorded as occurring in America earlier than the Black Friday, one in 1716 and another in 1762. The Dark Days of Canada were 16 Oct. 1785 and 3 July 1814. On the latter date the darkness extended over a tract estimated to be about 300 miles in length and 200 in breath, in the region of the Saint Lawrence River and Gulf. There were showers of sand and very dark ashes and the atmosphere was of a deep yellow color. The characteristic features seemed to point to vol canic action as an origin rather than to forest fires. These two causes have in recent years

received much attention in their relation to the obscuring and tinting of the atmosphere over immense areas. The smoke from great forest fires in the northwestern States and in Canada was in 1881 carried south or southeast to almost incredible distances, and in June 1903 extensive fires in the forests of New England and of the Adirondacks caused a yellowish haze that ex tended far from its source. After the volcanic eruptions of Mount Soufriere and Mount Pelee in May 1902 vast quantities of volcanic dust were borne seaward, more or less obscuring the daylight by their persistence in the atmosphere. The volcanic dust from Krakatoa is believed to have encircled the entire earth and to have affected the color of the atmosphere for months. In countries situated like Egypt a marked ob scuration of daylight may often be accounted for by the fine sand brought by winds from the desert.