Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic 100 Year Anniversary

The ghostly image of the Titanic 2.5 miles below the frigid waters of the North Atlantic nearly 400 miles off the Nova Scotia coast.
We have struck iceberg, sinking fast, come to our assistance.
The distress call from RMS TITANIC at 11:55 PM, April 14, 1912. (Position Lat. 41.46 N Long. 50.14 W)

As I write this entry it is almost the exact moment 100 years ago that the SS Titanic out of Southampton, England hit an iceberg that would eventually lead to her sinking around 2:40am on the 15th of April, 1912. Sadly, as we all know 1500 souls were lost on that terrible night. By all accounts the voyage to that point was uneventful in the weather department. The waters of the Atlantic had been calm with sunny, mild days and starlit nights. The same held true the night of the collision, maybe a little too calm. The presence or lack there of any weather, or moon (new moon) for that mater would mean that any ice would have been difficult to spot. In addition to the calm, mirror like seas, it was a very cold night. The Titanic had sailed through a cold front earlier in the day that had left her in air temperatures right around the freezing point by 11:40pm. The water was frigid by some estimates almost as cold as -2C (28F). Sea water can reach temperatures below 0C without freezing due to the salt content. In water temperatures such as these survival would have been nearly impossible with death in minutes.

By comparison that night, Montreal was plus 5C (41F) on the 14th and dropped below freezing overnight. In St. John's, Newfoundland, the closest major centre to the Titanic disaster, cold temperatures prevailed behind the cold front with highs of plus 3C (38F) on the 14th and plus 4C (39F) on the 15th. In Halifax where many of the dead from Titanic are buried, and rescue and recovery efforts were launched, it was a mild 10C (50F) on the 14th. Temperatures in Halifax dropped quickly behind the same cold front that the Titanic had encountered, down to -4.4C (25F) by the morning of the 15th showing how cold the air was in the region. New York City where the Titanic was expected was also chilly and clear on the 15th.

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