On May 19, 1780, New England residents looked around in confusion. It was noon. Why were the birds singing their evening songs? Why was it getting dark? What on Earth was going on? As the people talked, they decided that a big storm must be near. So they waited, and nothing came. Now they started seriously worrying and in good eighteenth century fashion, decided that this must mean the world was coming to an end!
What caused this strange darkness? It was not until the early 21st century that we had a probable answer. A University of Missouri study on Ontario trees found evidence for a massive forest fire in the province during the Spring of 1780. As has happened on a few occasions since, large Canadian forest fires can have weird effects on weather in the Northeastern United States. We have not had another event quite like the Dark Day, but as recent as 2002, a fire in Quebec caused major haze across the region.