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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published July 03 2013

Weather Talk: July 4, 1776, likely was a pleasant day in Philadelphia

Today marks the 237th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia.

Through the years, I have often read that the weather that day was blistering hot, but according to records kept by one of the first weather observers in what was to become the United States, the weather was not all that hot in early July 1776. Who was that weather observer? None other than Thomas Jefferson, the third president and the principal writer of the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson was fascinated by the weather and kept detailed records. While in Philadelphia, he also found time to continue to make his weather observations. On July 4, 1776, he recorded a 6 a.m. temperature of 68 degrees. At 1 p.m., he noted the temperature was 76 degrees, and at 9 that evening, the temperature was 73.5 degrees.

Given the average rise after the 1 p.m. reading, the high that day in was probably around 80 degrees. Still warm considering the attire and wigs worn in that era, but for mid-summer, it certainly could be considered pleasant.


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