Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/772

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Credible persons testify to having seen a horse carried over the roof of a barn, and again let down, without receiving serious injury. A child's necklace, with locket attached, was picked up in the village of A——, having been carried by the storm from W——, eight miles distant! Mr. and Mrs. T——, living in L——, were both killed, and their house destroyed by the tornado. A vest belonging to Mr. T——, containing valuable papers and a sum of money, was found in the town of P——, twenty miles away, and restored to the relatives of the deceased owner!

Wagons, agricultural implements, and household furniture, will be carried a long distance and broken into fragments by the tornado, while delicate mirrors and sets of glass-ware may be spared. The giants of the forest will be torn to splinters, while the modest flowers beneath them are left blooming as sweetly as if nothing had occurred!

The belief has obtained to some extent that tornadoes follow subterranean veins of water. That they are repeated in certain localities, have a fondness for belts of timber and small water-courses provided they run in the right direction there can be no doubt. They also travel over a portion of country previously moistened by rain. This rule has but few exceptions.

The increasing frequency and severity of these visitations (notwithstanding what may be said to the contrary) compel the writer to believe that radical changes are taking place in our atmosphere and climate; that the construction of great railroad-belts across the continent and the erection of a vast network of telegraph and telephone wires exert an influence upon the atmosphere, by disturbing the equilibrium of electric forces. The fact that tornadoes do not closely follow railroad and telegraph lines is not sufficient to disprove the soundness of this theory; and, whether true or false, the fact of the climatic change remains, and opens a vast field for further exploration by the electrician and the meteorologist.

Long-range predictions and weather forecasts may be safely indulged in, if made in a general way; but, when confined to fixed dates and certain localities, they have usually proved a hollow mockery, and brought ridicule upon the authors.

The United States Signal Service has proved to be quite reliable in its observations and predictions of approaching storms, and should receive due credit for its service rendered in protection of life and property. The benefits might be still further extended by a system of railway-express signals, operated in connection with it and by the direction of the Government observers at the different stations. Unfortunately, however, the warnings of this Service can not reach all concerned in time to be of value, nor can it protect in the hour of danger: as witness the tornado which visited the States of Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, on the 22d of April, in the present year, by which over one hundred persons lost their lives; also those which