When Was the Year Without a Summer?

The spring of 1816 did not bring the usual warm weather to the eastern United States. In fact, winter seemed to stretch right through spring, and then summer itself didn’t arrive!

In Massachusetts, the temperature dropped to 30 degrees Fahrenheit in early June, and a fairly heavy snow fell. Crops and livestock perished. Then the cold weather disappeared, and farmers replanted, only to have their crops wiped out again by another cold wave in early July.

Then on August 20, another cold wave hit the eastern United States. On September 17, a killing frost hit the area, and winter followed soon after. People in the United States and Europe, which also suffered from cold weather that summer, called 1816 “the year without a summer.”

Scientists believe that the unusually cold weather of 1816 was caused by large amounts of dust particles blown into the air by volcanoes that erupted during the preceding year or two. These dust particles blocked out some of the sun’s heat.