Benjamin Franklin was one of America’s first great scientific minds. Many of us think of the story about Franklin flying a kite in a thunderstorm to understand lightning. It is however believed that event didn’t actually take place, but many don’t know the real story about Franklin’s fascination with weather, and more specifically, tornadoes.
Franklin’s weather observations were of the first to determine that storm movements didn’t follow the surface winds. He later researched stories about waterspouts and was the first person to determine that the spouts were made of air, not water. Many at the time disputed his theories and he became somewhat obsessed with the idea of seeing one.
By mere coincidence while visiting a friend in Maryland during the spring of 1754, Franklin observed a “whirlwind” or a “spout” (he has referred to it using both terms in his writings)., and he alongside his son, gave chase to it while on horseback and followed it for nearly a mile before it dissipated in front of him “as mysteriously as it began.” This truly makes Ben Franklin the first person who ever pursued such weather phenomena in written history, and therefore, we honor the man who adorns the one-hundred dollar bill as America’s First Storm Chaser.