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Did Mother Nature blow up the Hindenburg and the Challenger and sink the Titanic? While weather conditions might not have been entirely to blame, they played a significant role in these disastrous events, according to the new Weather Channel series “Weather That Changed the World.” Premiering June 9, the nine-episode series uses dramatic footage, reconstructions, animations and expert testimonies to explain weather’s impact on historical events, including some that are more obscure but just as significant as the Titanic sinking and Hindenburg explosion, the latter the subject of the first episode.
|S01E01||Crash of the Hindenburg||09/06/2013||We explore the role the weather played in the Hindenburg disaster on May 6th 1937. Airship historian Dan Grossman visits the Hindenburg’s original hanger in Lakehurst, New Jersey and reveals how fast and luxurious airships were as a method of transport in the 1930’s. Meteorologist Eric Fisher illustrates the impact wind played in the lead up to the disaster with a remote control blimp and takes to the skies in a hot air balloon to reveal how electricity in the atmosphere could have led to a static discharge within the airship, causing it to catch alight. We hear the horror of the disaster and the burning victims through first-hand accounts with the cabin boy, Werner Franz, who survived the catastrophe by jumping out a window and ground crewman, Bob Buchanan, who narrowly missed being crushed by the falling ship. In the final act a team of engineers in the UK develop an experiment to recreate the conditions on the Hindenburg and the huge fire ball that followed.|
|S01E02||Thunderstorm that Saved D.C.||09/06/2013||During the War of 1812 British troops occupy Washington DC after defeating an American army on the outskirts of the capitol. As night falls the invading troops destroy the seat of American Government. The Capitol, Treasury and White House are all set alight. But the occupation is short-lived. The following day a violent thunderstorm hits the city. It spawns a deadly tornado that destroys buildings spared by the British. But the storm also helps save the city; it prevents British troops from wreaking further havoc and the accompanying torrential rain helps douse the flames. Thirty British troops are killed in the storm and once the storm has passed the British quietly retreat from the city. Washington is saved by its weather. Historians Dr Ralph Eshelman and James Kochan recount the event and Meteorologist Eric Fisher demonstrates the awesome power of a tornado using an air cannon and high speed video.|
|S01E03||Pennsylvania's Fatal Smog||16/06/2013||Pennsylvania’s Killer Smog tells the story of a freak weather event that caused the worst air pollution disaster in US history, gripping the small, industrial town of Donora in its clutches for five long days in 1948. By the time the smog lifted twenty of the town were dead. Four years later a similar event occurred in London, England that killed thousands. The double tragedy radically altered the way we interact with our environment. The documentary brings the tragic events to life and unpicks the science behind them through interviews with experts and survivors, gripping archive footage, lively science demonstrations and dramatic reconstruction.|
|S01E04||Sinking of the Titanic||23/06/2013||The trans-Atlantic passenger liner, Titanic, was the largest of her time, but the ship itself has been dwarfed by the legend that was left after her tragic sinking. Everyone knows the crucial facts, the eerily calm night, the speed, the iceberg – but there have always been simple questions that have been left unanswered. Why, when it was described as a perfectly clear night with two capable men on lookout, did the doomed ship not see a deadly iceberg that stood 100 feet out of the water? A deceiving phenomena caused by the weather may hold the answer everyone has been looking for.|
|S01E05||Russia's Secret Weapon||30/06/2013||We explore the role Russian winter played in destroying Napoleon Bonaparte’s “Grand Army” in 1812, the legacy of which ultimately cost him his empire. Forensic anthropologist, Dr Rimantas Jankauskas explains how he determined over 3000 skeletons unearthed in Lithuania in 2002 belonged to Napoleons men and has been killed by winter cold. We follow the story of these bones back to 1812, and the disastrous weather conditions Napoleons men experienced. Dramatic reconstruction and archive images bring to life the soldiers struggle for survival against the winter weather. Napoleonic historian, Ben Townsend experiences the same freezing conditions as Napoleon’s men in a climate chamber set at 30 degrees below freezing and meteorologist Tomasz Schafernaker demonstrates why wind chill was particularly hazardous. In the final act we discover how history went on to repeat itself 140 years later, when Hitler led his army into the jaws of Russian winter.|
|S01E06||Vanishing Sun||14/07/2013||In the year 536, the sun went dark and did not return to normal for a year and a half. Temperatures plummeted, crops failed and floods ravaged the land. But what had caused this devastating event? Through studying ice cores in the Antarctic, scientists traced the source to a huge volcanic eruption. The massive cloud of material it ejected was transported by jet streams right around the globe, causing the sun to dim and the earth to cool by several degrees. Civilisations around the planet were thrown into turmoil and the course of history changed forever. And the most terrifying thing about this event is that one day it will happen again…|
|S01E07||Lost Legions of Rome||21/07/2013||In the year 9AD three legions of the highly trained and well-armed Roman troops were slaughtered in the Teutoburg Forest, North East Germany. Their enemy, treachery from within and a rough coalition of Germanic tribesmen who’s knowledge of the landscape and the weather that dominates it enabled them to throw off the threat of being engulfed by the empire. More importantly, this humiliating defeat led to the abandonment of all Roman expansion into Germania Magna.|
|S01E08||Challenger Disaster||07/07/2013||January 28th, 1986. The space shuttle Challenger explodes just 73 seconds after launch. Burning debris rains 7 miles down from the skies. The entire crew perishes – amongst them teacher Christa McAuliffe, who was to become the first true civilian in space. And when disaster teams recover the wreckage, analysis shows that out of more than 2 million components in the shuttle, one small part failed -a rubberized ring just a quarter inch thick, on one of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters. It's a flaw in the shuttle's complex engineering... But the reason it fails......is the weather. Former Director of Shuttle Programming Bob Sieck recounts his experiences on that fatal day and Meteorologist Dr Jon Nese explains how cold weather caused the rubberized ring to fail.|
|S01E09||Mayan Mega Drought||28/07/2013||Ancient Maya was destroyed by forces that remained a mystery for centuries.|