The “Rainmaker” who Got Blamed for Flooding San Diego and Killing 50 People

In 1915, San Diego was going through a dry season and the reservoir was running low. With farmers at risk of running out of water, the city council decided to go for a Hail Mary Pass and hired a sewing machine salesman who claimed he had the ability to send rain down from the sky. San Diego Union On December 14, 1915, the San Diego Union stated that “the City Council yesterday entered into an agreement with the Hatfield, Moisture Accelerator,” promising that the Morena Reservoir would be filled on December 20, 1916 for $10,000. . All councilors except Faye are in favor of the deal, which they say is “rank nonsense.”

Charles Mallory Hatfield had a mixed reputation as a rain maker, an early attempt at sowing cloud seeds (which in itself is still a matter of debate as to how effective it really is). He conducted his first experiment in his own kitchen, mixing chemicals in a way that would probably flag you off by the FBI today. He claimed that the combination of his 23 chemicals created steam from kettle gravity towards them.

Seeing the supposed possibility, he went ahead in an attempt to attract the rain clouds and later said that “I do not rain. It would be an unreasonable claim. I only attract the clouds and they do the rest.” The chemicals will be placed on top of the tall tower and released. A great smell will obviously be left, something near the “Limburger cheese factory”, and the rain will follow sometimes. Weather forecasters in LA fired him, so in 1904 Hatfield made a bet that he could guarantee at least 46 enti centimeters (18 inches) of rain between mid-December and the end of April. If he succeeds, he will be given a thousand dollars, if he fails, he will not receive a penny.

The papers liked the idea of ​​someone who could rain and asked Hatfield to make fun of not raining on certain holidays and parades. When the rain exceeded his promised 18 inches, there was no argument with the public that it happened about 50 percent of the time, making his chances of winning no less than a coin flip. As his fame grew, stories about him were published as far as London. The meteorologists did not like him and called his claims nonsense – but in terms of power, the annoying scrapie-dur of the meteorologists was tantamount to creating a nemesis. They sent letters to newspapers claiming Hatfield, some of which printed them, but the damage was already done. In his own town, they even sold umbrellas with his name on them.