Join us on Thursday, April 11, as Pennsylvania State University Professor of Meteorology Dr. Jon M. Nese discusses new findings on the weather conditions that prevailed during the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863, and the impact weather had on the outcome of the battle.
How “hot” was the fighting at Gettysburg? It is generally accepted that it was 87 degrees on the afternoon of Pickett’s Charge. But what did it feel like to the soldiers who participated in that epic struggle? Humidity, dew point, and heat index are critical factors to answering that question, as is a thing called “wet bulb temperature,” a term little-known to those outside the field of meteorology. Drawing on never-before used data for the first qualitative estimate of the combination of heat and humidity for the battle, Dr. Nese will reveal that the actual heat index on the afternoon of Pickett’s Charge was as high as 105 degrees, which led to heat exhaustion and heat stroke with prolonged exposure and physical activity. The oppressive heat caused many soldiers to faint and be carried from the battlefield insensible. Is it any wonder the charge failed?
Dr. Nese is Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State University, where he teaches a variety of courses on weather and atmospheric sciences. He also oversees the Weather Communications Group which is responsible for Weather World, the department’s long-running weekday weather magazine show. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, Dr. Nese was chief meteorologist at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia from 1998 to 2002, and from 2002 to 2005, he was an on-air storm analyst at The Weather Channel. He is the co-author of The Philadelphia Area Weather Book, which was awarded the 2005 Louis J. Battan Author’s Award from the American Meteorological Society, and a college-level introductory textbook: A World of Weather: Fundamentals of Meteorology. His presentation will be based on an article that he co-authored with Licensed Battlefield Guide Jeffrey Harding entitled Pickett’s Charge—”APerfect Storm of Heat”: Never before Used Data Allows for Heat Index Estimate during Fateful Attack, which appeared in the July 2022 edition of Gettysburg Magazine.
Those who are unable to attend this engagement in person are invited to tune in to the lecture and Q&A session via Zoom. Click on the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88641390902. No password in required. To dial in by phone, call 1-301-715-8592 or click on the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/ko3XCAUcw. The meeting ID # is 886 4139 0902.Zoom participants should join the meeting by 7:00 pm.