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May-June 2017

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June 22, 1947: Cloudburst Over Holt, Missouri

The prophet of disaster ceased to shout.

Something was going right outside the hall.

A rain, though stingy, had begun to fall

That rather hurt his theory of the drought

And all the great convention was about.

The opening stanza of Robert Frost's sonnet “The Broken Drought,” which first appeared in the April 1947 issue of the Atlantic Monthly under the title “But He Meant It,” may inspire analysis on the value of hope versus doomsaying, but a more literal interpretation might have been on the minds of many Midwesterners just two months after it was published. On the evening of June 22, 1947, a cloudburst occurred over the vicinity of Holt, Missouri, a small town about 30 miles northeast of Kansas City, resulting in an incredible 12 inches of rain in just 42 minutes. The event even broke the world record for the greatest amount of precipitation in that duration of time. 

Sean Potter is a New York-based Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM), Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM), and science writer with an interest in weather history

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