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Calm Before Storm

Approaching Storm, Eugene Boudin, 1864

Stormy Weather Month

Jan 20

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"It was a dark and stormy night ..."

~ Edward Bulwer-Lytton, "Paul Clifford", 1830

With storms moving in and out this month for much of the world, this oft-repeated and parodied phrase may come to mind. First appearing in an 1809 Washington Irving story, it received its "purple prose" status when English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton's made use of it in his 1830 novel Paul Clifford which begins: "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness." The annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, sponsored by San Jose State's English Department, pays homage to the worst examples of "dark and stormy night" writing challenging entrants to compose "the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels." The "best" of the "worst" have been published in a series of paperback books, starting with "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" in 1984 ... something to read on a dark and stormy night. ⛈️🌃

Calm Before Storm

If you're experiencing storms in your part of the world, you may experience the phenomenon of the "calm before the storm."  As warmer, moist air is pulled into a storm system, it leaves a low-pressure vacuum in its wake.


Once the cycle begins, however, air travels up through the storm cloud and helps to fuel it. The updrafts in the storm, however, quickly carry the air upward, and when it reaches the top of the cloud mass, this warm moist air gets spit out at the top.  From there, the air descends -- drawn back toward lower altitudes by the very vacuum its departure created in the first place.

Hurricane-like storms are called by different names in the different regions of the world. For example, the name "hurricane" is given to systems that develop over the Atlantic or the eastern Pacific Oceans. In the western North Pacific and Philippines, these systems are called "typhoons" while in the Indian and South Pacific Ocean, they are called "cyclones."

For the most recent winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest for the most egregious of opening lines for a novel, click another famous novelist fond of the "dark and stormy night" opening line.

Calm Before Storm

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

Calm Before Storm

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