Who was the Weather Prophet of Beartown Mountain?
The winter of 2014-15 was one of our worst, but be thankful that we missed the Blizzard of 1888, probably the most devastating storm in our history. About 400 died, but folks who heeded Levi Beebe, the “Weather Prophet of Beartown Mountain,” were ready.
At least four feet of snow driven by winds up to 60 miles per hour crippled Berkshire County and most of the Northeast for days. Snowdrifts of ten feet were common, and some reached 30 feet in the storm that hit on March 12. Many had to tunnel from their homes, roads were impassable, and passengers were stuck on a train on Washington Mountain for five days. Not only did Beebe predict the storm’s exact date, he did it more than six months prior to the actual event!
The bearded eccentric had no Doppler radar or computer projections, but he was a keen observer of cloud formations and atmospheric gasses. He studied Mount Greylock from his Beartown home and called it his barometer, meticulously recording his findings. Beebe watched other supposed weather phenomena: playful kittens, the gait of caterpillars, cattle in pastures.
His 1888 prediction is no urban legend or lucky guess. He repeatedly got other major weather events right. Beebe’s opinions were highly regarded and published by New York newspapers and National Geographic.