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130th Anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood

By Jesse Ferrell
5/31/2019, 10:03:02 AM

May 30, 2019:

At 8 a.m. on May 30, 1889, the United States War Department issued a forecast warning of heavy rain in the eastern U.S. and issued the harbinger phrase "Rivers will rise." While an admirable 24-hour forecast for 130 years ago, it turned out to be much more than a river rise in one Pennsylvania town.


Tomorrow is the 130th anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood. Basically, a spring storm dumped a lot of rain in Pennsylvania, but most people agree that the dam failure was attributable to human neglect.

Johnstown Flood 1889

There was 8 inches of rain near Johnstown, which would be enough to cause a flash flood, in theory. Believe it or not, there were weather maps drawn in 1889 and you can see all of them on my 2007 blog "What Caused the Johnstown Floods?" which also includes meteorological information on the 1936 and 1972 floods in that city.


The photos they have at the Johnstown Flood Memorial Museum are incredible!

Johnstown Flood 1889

You can see more photos in our retrospective video, which also lists the non-weather reasons for the dam break:

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