Weather Fundamentals

Early Weather History

What did Benjamin Franklin contribute to the science of meteorology

Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), who is said to have discovered electricity by flying a kite in a storm and who later invented the lightning rod, made the important discovery that low pressure systems caused the atmosphere to circulate in a rotating pattern. He made this discovery in 1743, after unsuccessfully attempting to view an eclipse on October 21. There was a storm in Philadelphia at the time, but he later learned that the skies were clear in Boston that day. Of course, he wasn’t able to take an airplane to Massachusetts, but what he did find out the next day was that the storm that had been in Philadelphia had traveled to Boston. From this information, he surmised that the storm was traveling in a clockwise manner from southwest to northeast. Putting two and two together, Franklin concluded that the low pressure system was causing the storm to move in this manner.


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