Weather trivia: 100,000 sickened by four-day Great Smog of 1952

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A prolonged cold spell and windless conditions joined together on Dec. 5, 1952 to create smog that killed 4,000 people and sickened more than 100,000 in the following weeks. Do you know what city the smog formed? A prolonged cold spell and windless conditions joined together on Dec. 5, 1952 to create smog that killed 4,000 people and sickened more than 100,000 in the following weeks. Do you know what city the smog formed?

A prolonged cold spell and windless conditions joined together on Dec. 5, 1952 to create smog that killed 4,000 people and sickened more than 100,000 in the following weeks. Do you know what city the smog formed?

The residents of London, England had heated their homes with coal for centuries. So Londoners were somewhat used to dealing with thick smog that was created by coal smoke escaping from chimneys wasn’t too unusual.

But something changed on Dec. 5, 1952.

After a prolonged cold spell encouraged London’s residents to burn even more coal than normal, the local atmosphere became dreadfully quiet. A four-day period of near windless conditions collected airborne pollutants and formed a thick layer of smog over the city.

A cold upper layer of air trapped the smog near the surface for four days.

Residents said they couldn’t see far enough to drive. Walking was difficult at best. Residents said they shuffled their feet to avoid tripping over steps and curbs as if they were walking in the dark. Some said they couldn’t see their ankles.

All transportation in London, except for the underground “Tubes,” ground to a halt.

People covered their faces and went about living somewhat normal lives as best they could despite the thick smog.

On Dec. 9, a wind finally blew the smog away but not before the damage was done.

Soon the city’s hospitals started filling with people suffering from damage to their lungs created by the Great Smog of 1952.

In the weeks and months that followed, more than 100,000 London residents would seek treatment for breathing difficulties created by the smog.

As a result of the 1952 Great Smog, Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956.

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