Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lovecraft's Meteorological Work

In the 1906 Meteorological Report, we read that part of the equipment is: "Rain Guage by Queen and Co." Are there implications for simply having this device?

Well, one wonders if Lovecraft's work were a game, an attempt to play at astronomy and meteorology before starting his carer? - or something of a more serious nature? Before we delve deeply into this, Chrispy found a St. Louis engineering and planning book from 1911.

It reads in part about the complexities of controlling rain runoff in an urban environment (and mentions the Queen and Co. rain guages). See text below. These values in St. Louis were being used for urban expansion planning, and drainage work. One suspects similar work was being done in the sprawling and teaming Providence, and lots of data was needed.

This was modern, 20th century work, and Lovecraft was being a real scientist - if his work was actually being used by planners. This was true meteorology, and would have been possibly sanctioned by Brown University (Upton?). The station was located on top of the Rhode Island Journal Bldg., and while the years before WWI were placid, one suspects that not just anyone climbed upon the roof of a prestigious newspaper building without some permission and sanction.


Experimental Work.—The method of computing runoff outlined above is theoretically correct, but the values of "p," the percentage of runoff, and the critical time for the remote inlet, are based on a few published observations which arc usually incomplete and of doubtful value when applied to local conditions. In fact, the whole subject of rainfall and runoff in general is a dark spot in engineering literature and knowledge, and it is only very recently that engineers have awakened to the necessity of obtaining more accurate information on this subject.

The extraordinary amount of sewer work now in progress in St. Louis has brought forcibly home to the designers the fact that a little more data might result in a great saving in money, either in first cost of the sewer system, or in damages should the sewers prove insufficient. For this reason, a series of observations has been undertaken which is expected to give

1st. More accurate records of intensity of precipitation.
2nd. Approximate values of the percentage of runoff under various conditions.
3rd. Approximate values of the critical time for street inlets.
4th. An idea of the area covered, at any one time, by storms of various intensities.

To cover the first and fourth points, a series of rain gauge stations has been established. The gauges now installed arc: H Frieze tipping bucket recording rain gauges; M Queen and Company automatic recording rain gauges; o Standard rain gauges.

In addition, the records from the Frieze instruments of the U. S. Weather Bureau Station and the St. Louis University Station are received, giving in all 8 automatic and 5 standard machines. To secure the data on runoff, 10 Bristol automatic recording water level gauges have been installed in the sewers.

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