The Amazing Life Of Ben Franklin: Weather Pioneer

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ben-franklin-weather-pioneer-photo-by-jepsculpture.jpg When you think of our nation’s forefathers, you probably didn’t realize that one of the most famous was also one the first real weathermen in our country: Ben Franklin.

Weather was one of Franklin’s passions. Ben Franklin, weather bug that he was, invented and discovered many things involving weather. After all, Franklin was one amazing inventor, too.

It takes a special person to not be a president yet still appear on the United States half-dollar and $100 bill, right?!

You’re probably asking what Ben Franklin did with weather… besides the story about Franklin tying a key to a kite and flying it during a thunderstorm to test for electricity.

Well, you might be surprised just how much Ben Franklin did to study weather and advance the science of meteorology as a whole.

What are a few of the many Ben Franklin weather-related advances?

Let’s take a look…


Franklin Investigated Low Pressure, High Pressure, and Storm Movements

When Ben Franklin learned that a storm he experienced in Philadelphia later affected Boston, he decided to find out more about how storms move.

It turns out that his observations led to Franklin being a pioneer in investigating storm movements.

He discovered that storms can actually move in a different direction than the way the wind is blowing – which gives rise to his accurate theories on high pressure and low pressure and how they can affect storm motions.

Ben Franklin: The Storm Chaser

Believe it or not, Ben Franklin was also one of America’s first storm chasers! Of course, he didn’t use a high-powered truck equipped with computers. Franklin did his storm chasing on horseback. One well-noted story involves Ben Franklin following a dust devil for a mile on horseback.

He described his observations in a letter. Franklin reported using his whip to try breaking up the dust devil — but that didn’t do a thing to disturb the dust devil!

Franklin Studied and Mapped the Gulf Stream

ben-franklin-weather-pioneer-gulf-stream-photo-by-rene-ehrhardt.jpg Franklin was a traveler. When he was aboard ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean, he kept track of the ocean’s temperatures – and was amazed by how much warmer the water was in the Gulf Stream.

He went on to realize that the Gulf Stream is a ribbon-like band of warm water traveling through the Atlantic Ocean. He eventually made a very accurate map of the Gulf Stream.

Franklin Invented the Lightning Rod

People living in Florida and other lightning-prone places have Ben Franklin to thank for inventing something very important in protecting homes and property from high-voltage attacks from above: the lightning rod.

ben-franklin-weather-pioneer-lightning-rod-photo-by-arenamontanus.jpg His understanding of lightning’s electrical properties during his famous experiment with the key on the kite led him to soon inventing the lightning rod, which has helped save countless buildings from damage or destruction from lightning – and lightning rods have saved countless lives, too!

Ben Franklin Wrote Poor Richard’s Almanack

Almanacs are popular for helpful hints, general information, astronomical insight, and seasonal weather forecasts. From 1732 to 1758, Ben Franklin wrote a very popular almanac called Poor Richard’s Almanack.

10,000 copies were sold yearly, and in it came seasonal weather forecasts, which proved very helpful to the many who used those weather forecasts for farming.

Something else Poor Richard’s Almanack contained was wise and witty sayings. Here’s a good ol’ Franklin weather quote: “Some are weather – wise, some are otherwise.”