Bill Bryson

In: "One Summer: America, 1927"

Most people couldn’t recall a time like it. For months on end, across much of the country, it rained steadily, sometimes in volumes not before seen. Southern Illinois received over two feet of rain in three months;

Between the late summer of 1926 and the following spring, enough precipitation fell on the forty-eight United States, by one calculation, to make a cube of water 250 miles across on each side. That is a lot of water, and it was only just the beginning.

On Good Friday, April 15, 1927, a mighty storm system pounded the middle third of America with rain of a duration and intensity that those who experienced it would not forget in a hurry. From western Montana to West Virginia and from Canada to the Gulf, rain fell in what can only be described as a Noachian deluge. Most places received six to eight inches, and some recorded more than a foot.

The weather remained terrible, not just in New York but everywhere. In Washington, D.C., on May 14, a tornado fifty feet across at the base touched down at Prospect Hill Cemetery and proceeded in an erratic fashion up Rhode Island Avenue, uprooting trees and causing consternation among onlookers before harmlessly dematerializing a minute or so after forming. Farther west, unseasonably late blizzards caught much of the country by surprise. In Detroit, a Tigers-Yankees game was postponed because of snow—the latest snow-out of a major league baseball game ever recorded. Rains continued to pound the beleaguered central and lower Mississippi valley.Read more at location 1259

In the early hours of May 18, while the rest of Bath slept, Andrew Kehoe made repeated trips into the basement of the school carrying boxes of dynamite and pyrotol, a military explosive. Altogether he stacked five hundred pounds of explosives throughout the basement. Then he wired them all together and ran a master line out to his car, parked out front. [...] At 9:40 a.m., a sudden and tremendous explosion blew apart the building’s north wing, which housed third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. [...] Altogether, forty-four people died that day: thirty-seven children and seven adults. Three families lost two children each.

Practically speaking, there’s no saying when the summer of 1927 ended. October brought some of the most summery days of the year, with temperatures touching 85 in New York and rising into the high 90s elsewhere in the East. Fall arrived gradually, on no particular date, as seasons generally do.