OH CR4P! Blog

OH CR4P!

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field." -Niels Bohr

These words frame the OH CR4P! blog, a place which encourages engineers to discuss, reminisce, and learn about mistakes, failures and mishaps made by those who have become "experts" the hard way.

Previous in Blog: Overweight Spanish Submarines   Next in Blog: The Day the U.S. Air Force Dropped a Nuclear Bomb on South Carolina
Close
Close
Close
11 comments

Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

Posted April 08, 2019 12:00 AM by RSBenner

In 1915, San Diego, California was experiencing a severe drought and officials were desperate to solve this problem. Enter Charles Hatfield, a self-proclaimed “moisture accelerator,” who had assisted 17 communities, from Texas to Alaska, by encouraging rain to fall in their areas. The meeting with Hatfield may have caused in a flood that caused more damage and death than any other in the history of San Diego County.

The city of San Diego made a verbal agreement with Hatfield. If he could make it rain enough to fill the 15 billion-gallon Morena Reservoir within a year, they would pay him $10,000. Hatfield agreed and went to work. He built a 20-foot tower near the reservoir and placed shallow pans on the top. In those pans, Hatfield combined 23 chemicals, his own secret recipe, and set the concoction on fire. The smoke from this fire, Hatfield claimed, would attract the clouds and provide the rain.

Drizzles began on January 1 of 1916. Initial excitement was soon quenched when, during the 5-day span beginning January 15th, approximately 17 inches of rain fell in the areas around San Diego. This amount of rain, after the months of dry conditions, was harmful, not helpful. Rivers overflowed, landslides occurred and the floodwaters washed away homes, bridges and livestock. The entire community of Little Landers, California was destroyed. Despite this destruction, Hatfield continued his work because, after all, the reservoir was not yet filled!

After a brief break, significant rains returned. With no time to recover from the last storm, the area was in trouble. On January 27th, unable to hold back the water anymore, the Otay Dam collapsed, sending a 40-foot-high wall of water down the valley. San Diego found itself cut off from the rest of the world with bridges, communications and roads all destroyed. Almost 30 inches of rain had fallen throughout the month of January and damages were estimated to be approximately $8 million in 1916 dollars (about $200 million today). At least twelve deaths are blamed on the floods, although some think that number to be too low.

But, the Morena Reservoir was now filled. Having fulfilled the specified goal, Hatfield dismantled his tower and went to the city for payment. However, having gotten much more than they bargained for, and since their contract was never put into writing, they refused to pay. Hatfield sued the city, but, after 20 years of litigation, the lawsuit was dismissed.

Did Charles Hatfield actually cause it to rain? There is much debate about the usefulness of his mysterious, 23-chemical formula or if he was a just sharp talking con man who had knowledge about weather patterns. Either way, many believe his experiments were the beginning of the modern practice of cloud seeding.

References
https://daily.jstor.org/charles-hatfield-rainmaker/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/san-diego-rainmaker/

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: About 4000 miles from the center of the earth (+/-100 mi)
Posts: 9139
Good Answers: 1038
#1

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/08/2019 9:57 AM

Well, I'd say he just needed to dial it back a little.

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
3
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 520
Good Answers: 13
#2

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood... Thinkin' Out of the Box

04/09/2019 9:27 AM

Litigation was Just Spittin' into the Wind

Instead of suing, he should have just threatened to make it keep raining until they paid up.

______________

thewildotter

Reply Good Answer (Score 3)
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: About 4000 miles from the center of the earth (+/-100 mi)
Posts: 9139
Good Answers: 1038
#11
In reply to #2

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood... Thinkin' Out of the Box

04/10/2019 2:22 PM

Good idea, they might just fall for the same trick twice!

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Sydney . Australia
Posts: 410
Good Answers: 34
#3

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/09/2019 10:02 AM

Amazing story. And what a bunch of A-wipes for not paying the guy!

Around 10 years ago, an area in Australia had 5 months of drought and the head of a local ashram did a “rain ceremony” to bring rains. And it worked. It rained until the adjacent river overflowed, putting 6 feet of floodwater through every building in the ashram.

She tells anyone who will listen that she will never again do that and will always accept what she already has. :o/

Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Placerville, CA (38° 45N, 120° 47'W)
Posts: 6007
Good Answers: 243
#4
In reply to #3

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/09/2019 11:36 AM

"And it worked."

Is there a way to know whether "it" worked, as opposed to coincidence or use of an understanding of upcoming weather patterns? 10 years ago is sufficiently recent that satellite weather images were available...

Who was it that, long ago, used knowledge of an upcoming eclipse of the sun to convince others of his power?

__________________
Teaching is a great experience, but there is no better teacher than experience.
Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 99
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/09/2019 12:00 PM

"10 years ago is sufficiently recent that satellite weather images were available." To what are you referring as 10 years ago?

From Wikipedia: "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain."

Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: No. VA, USA (No, it does NOTu mean "won't go"!)
Posts: 1791
Good Answers: 75
#6
In reply to #5

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/09/2019 12:53 PM

I think 10 years ago is in reference to the Aussie Ashram episode.

But even with Satellite weather images and data, it's still only possible to predict chances over large areas as a whole. Here in the NE USA, we can connect to dozens of automated reporting systems giving realtime (+- 15 minutes) data within 2 miles of nearly any location and small area reports and predictions will still be no better than about 40% accurate.

So, even if success was due to foreknowledge, it still seems a lot of luck was at play.

__________________
Been away a while. Miss all my old friends. Some of you I KNOW are still around. Where are the rest?
Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Placerville, CA (38° 45N, 120° 47'W)
Posts: 6007
Good Answers: 243
#7
In reply to #6

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/09/2019 1:56 PM

Correct on all three points.

__________________
Teaching is a great experience, but there is no better teacher than experience.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Placerville, CA (38° 45N, 120° 47'W)
Posts: 6007
Good Answers: 243
#8
In reply to #5

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/09/2019 2:06 PM

I already confirmed the Aussie ashram event.

I don't think Mark Twain wrote the solar eclipse incident. I have a vague memory of some astute military person using an eclipse to convince some American Indian tribe of something, but I remember it from at least 50 years ago, so I could easily be mistaken.

I have been under the impression that it was a description of a real event, but I could be mistaken there, as well...

__________________
Teaching is a great experience, but there is no better teacher than experience.
Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Sydney . Australia
Posts: 410
Good Answers: 34
#10
In reply to #4

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/09/2019 7:46 PM

The weather burea had no rain predicted when she started her rain ceremony.

it started raining 2-3 days after she did it.

if you can’t explain something with science , did it really happen ?

ask a scientist to explain precisely how the phenomenon of light works , and I don’t mean the process of flicking a switch on and off :D

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: 44.56024"N 15.307971E
Posts: 6709
Good Answers: 252
#9

Re: Charles Hatfield, the Rainmaker, and the Hatfield Flood

04/09/2019 4:22 PM

Think what you will,but my grandmother was Cherokee Indian.I loved her dearly,but I hated to see her come to our football games. She would get all excited watching the cheerleaders,and start dancing... Then we always got rained out.

__________________
"A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child." "Never argue with a stupid person.They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience"
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 11 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

DavidSMullins (1); dkwarner (3); HiTekRedNek (1); micahd02 (1); Nothing is Impossible (2); Rixter (2); thewildotter (1)

Previous in Blog: Overweight Spanish Submarines   Next in Blog: The Day the U.S. Air Force Dropped a Nuclear Bomb on South Carolina

Advertisement