Book Excerpt: Waterspout off the coast of Sardinia, 1648

Book Excerpt: Waterspout off the coast of Sardinia, 1648

 A "siphon," the first published image of waterspout in Europe. Drawn by Balthasar de Monconys, based his observation of 31 December, 1648. 

A "siphon," the first published image of waterspout in Europe. Drawn by Balthasar de Monconys, based his observation of 31 December, 1648. 

Roger Turner: My thanks to meteorologist Bogdan Antonescu for sharing this excerpt from his beautiful new coffee-table book, Tornadoes and Waterspouts in Europe: Depictions from 1555 to 1910.  For just £21, you can help him publish it--plus get a copy for yourself. Join Bogdan's Kickstarter campaign, and follow him on Twitter @bogdanantonescu.

Before you read Bogdan's words, here's my favorite line from Balthasar de Monconys's journal: 

"In Delft I saw the painter Verme(e)r who did not have any of his works: but we did see one at a baker's, for which six hundred livres had been paid, although it contained but a single figure, for which six pistoles would have been too high a price." -- Journal des voyages de Monsievr de Monconys, v. 2, p. 149. Translated here. 

Book Excerpt:

This depiction by Balthasar de Monconys (1611–1665) of a waterspout in the Mediterranean Sea is considered to be the first published depiction of a waterspout. De Monconys was a French traveller, physicist, and magistrate born in Lyon who travelled widely across Europe and the Middle East. He left a journal, which was published in three volumes between 1665–66 by his son Gaspard de Monconys de Liergues. In his journal, de Monconys included a vast range of topics from medical recipes, chemistry experiments and discussions on esoteric sciences, mathematics, astronomy, mechanics, zoology, medicine and meteorology. The first volume of Monconys’s journal contains descriptions of his travels between 1645–1649 to Portugal, Provence, Italy, Syria, Anatolia and Constantinople. On 31 December 1648, de Monconys noted in his journal:

'We have arrived close to Tolara [probably Molara Island], an island joined to Sardinia. There I drew the figure of a siphon*.' 

*From Ancient Greek (σίφων) meaning pipe or tube.

Image Source:

de Monconys, Balthasar, 1665: Journal de Voyages de Monsieur de Monconys, Conseiller du Roy en Ses Conseils D’Estat et Privè, et Lieutenant Criminel au Siege Presidial de Lyon. Horace Boissat et Geroge Remeus, 491 pp.

Image provided courtesy of the John Rylands Library (University of Manchester, UK.) 

bogdan_antonescu caricature.jpg

Bogdan Antonescu is a post-doc at the University of Manchester in the UK, where he studies the climatology, risk, societal and economic impact, and history of European tornadoes. Between 2004 and 2010, he was a severe storm forecaster and researcher at the Romanian National Meteorological Administration.

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