Genealogy and the weather

Diana Tibert
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Have you ever wondered what the weather was like on the day you were born? Was your mother born during a snowstorm? Did your grandfather die in a gale? Weather happens around us every day and although many of us never think of the weather that happened in the past, sometimes, it dramatically affected our families. While growing up, I often heard Mom say her parents had to postpone their wedding because of the August Gale that struck Newfoundland in 1927. Recently, I researched this weather event. It was a Category 3 Hurricane that swept through Atlantic Canada that August. In the wee hours of August 25th, the hurricane moved out of Nova Scotia, crossed the Cabot Strait and struck Newfoundland. Several ships were lost and dozens of fishermen drowned from the Placentia Bay area. Overall, the storm claimed almost 200 victims in Atlantic Canada. The surprising part of this story is that my grandparents, Primadine Taylor and Hubert Appleby, were married on August 25th in the Salvation Army Church in Burin Bay. The storm hadnt postponed their wedding; they were married as the winds whirled outside. Knowing when a devastating storm hit a particular area may help discover how a family member died. It might even discover their death date. For example, if you know a family member was a fisherman and died sometime between 1925 and 1930, then check newspaper reports on the August Gale to see if their name appears. Newspapers reporting the losses during a similar storm on August 8, 1926 should also be checked. These two events are historically known as the August Gales. Another devastating storm that claimed almost 1,000 victims across Atlantic Canada took place on August 24, 1873. Most victims were lost at sea. Information for major storms can be found on the Internet by searching with the Google search engine ( Use key words such as blizzard or August Gale. Add a location (province) and a year to narrow the search results. Canadian weather history for specific dates is found in the National Climate Data and Information Archive on the Environment Canada website. The most efficient method of searching is to choose Customized Search and plug in the dates and location you seek. Weather records can be accessed from 1840 to the present. However, the further back in time you go, the number of stations recording the weather decreases along with the amount of data gathered for each day. For example, recordings began at Halifax in April 1871 and were taken once a day. On January 1, 1961, recordings were taken hourly. The Weather Doctor website ( has lots of information on the weather. The Weather Diaries contain information on significant weather events for each month. The Almanac Articles provide further details on specific events. Researchers File Seeking for information on Donald Ross, husband of Johanna Barry (1836 - 1924). When was he born? Where and when did he die? In the 1891 Canada Census, he was 62 years old and living at Riverside, NS. Contact: Teresa Morton, 80 Bell Crescent, Charlottetown, PE, C1E 1Z9; email: Diana Lynn Tibert is a freelance writer living in Milford, NS. Submit a query. Its free!: RR#1 Milford, Hants County, NS, B0N 1Y0; email:

Organizations: Salvation Army Church, Google, Information Archive Environment Canada

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland Placentia Bay Burin Bay Milford Charlottetown Hants County

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