Weather, April 1805
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

Weather, April 1805


Day of
the month
State of
eter at
☉ rise


Wind at
☉ rise
State of
eter at
4 P.M.


Wind at
4 P.M.

State of the River
raised or                 
falln.   fet   Inch
April 1st 33 a [2] c N.W. 43 a c. a. t.
l. r. & H. [3]
W f               11   
2cd 28 a c a r N. W 38 a f. a. c. W. f                5   
3rd 24 a f. N. 44 a f. W. [4] f                4   
4th 36 a f. S. 55 a f. N. W. f                4   
5th 30 a f. N. W. 39 a f. N. [5] f                2   
6th 19 a f. N. 48 a c. N. W. f                1   
7th 28 a f. W. 64 a f. S. W. r            2 [6]
8th 19 a f. N. W. 56 a f. N. W. f                2   
9th 38 a f. S. E. 70 a f S. W. f                   ½
10th 42 a f E 74 a f S W. r                   ⅛
11th 42 a f N W 76 a f W. f                   ½
12th 56 a f N. W. 74 a c a r T & L W. r                   ⅛
13th 58 a f S. E. 80 a f S. E. f                1   
14th 52 a c S E 82 a f S. W. f                   ¾
15th 51 a f E 78 a f S W. f                   ½
16th 54 a f S E 78 a f S. f                   ½
17th 56 a f N. E. 74 a c S. W. f                   ½
18th 52 a f N. E. 64 a c N.  
19th 45 a [7] c N. W. 56 a c N. W.  
20th 40 a c N W 42 a c a s N W  
21st 28 a f N W 40 a c N. W. f                   ½
22nd 34 a f a c W. 40    f N W r                2   
23rd 34 a f W. 52    c N. W. r                2   
24th 40 a f N. 56    f N r                1   
25th 36 a f. N 52 a f N W r                2   
26th 32 a f S 63 a f S E r                3   
27th 36 a f S W 64 a f N W f                2   
28th 44 a f S. E. 63 a f S E f                1 ½
29th 42 a f N E 64 a f E f                1 ½
30th 50 a f N. W. 58 a f S E f                   ½
[Remarks] [8]
1st ice ceases to run    A fine refreshing shower of rain fell about
2 P. M.    this was the first shower of rain that we had witnessed
since the fifteenth of September 1804 tho' it several times has
fallen in very small quantities, and was noticed in this diary of
the weather.    the cloud came from the west, and was attended
by hard [EC: thun]der and Lightning. I have observed that all
thunderclouds in the Western part of the continent, proceed
from the westerly quarter, as they do in the Atlantic States.    the
air is remarkably dry and pure in this open country, very little
rain or snow ether winter or summer.    the atmosphere is more
transparent than I ever observed it in any country through which
I have passed.
2cd rained hard and without intermission last night
3rd frost last night [9]
4th Observed a flock of brant passing up the river today; the wind
blew very ha[r]d as it dose frequently in this quarter; there is
sarcely any timber to brake the wind from the river, & the coun-
try on both sides being level plains, wholy destitute of timber,
the wind blows 〈over them〉 with astonishing violence.    in this
open country the winds form a great obstruction to the naviga-
tion of this river particularly with small vessels, which can nei-
ther ascend or descend should the wind be the least violent.—
6th This day a flock of cherry or cedar birds [10] were seen, one of the
men killed, several of them which gave me an opportunity of ex-
amining them.    they are common in the United States; usually
ascociate in large flocks and are frequently distructive to the
chery orchards, and in winter in the lower parts of the states of
Virginia & Maryland feed on the buries of the Cedar.    they are
a small bluish brown bird, crested with a tuft of dark brown
feathers with a narrow black stripe passing on each side of the
head underneath the eye from the base of the upper beak to the
back of the head.    it is distinguished more particularly by some
of the shorter feathers of the wing, which are tiped with a red
spots that have much the appearance at a little distance of seal-
ing wax.    all the birds that we believe visit this country have now
7th Visited by a Ricara Chief    wind very high.    set out on our voyage
at 5 P. M.    encampt a 4 me. S. S.
8th the Kildee, and large Hawk have returned. [11]    buds of the Elm
swolen and appear red— [12]    the only birds that I obseved during
the winter at Fort Mandan was the Missouri Magpie, a bird of the
Corvus genus, the raven in immence numbers, [13] the small [EC:
] woodpecker or sapsucker [14] as they are sometimes called,
〈and〉 the [EC: beau] beautifull eagle, or calumet bird, so called
from the circumstance of the natives decorating their pipe-stems
with it's plumage and the Prarie Hen or grouse.— [15]
9th the Crow has also returned    saw the first today.    & the corvus
bird disappears    the Musquitoes revisit us, saw several of them.
Capt. Clark brought me a flower in full blo.    it is a stranger
to me.—    the peroque 〈shakes with〉 is so unsteady that I can
scarcely write
10th the prarie lark, bald Eagle, & the large plover have returned. [16]
the grass begins to spring, and the leaf buds of the willow to
appear.—    Chery birds disappear.
11th The lark wood pecker, [17] with yellow wings, and a black spot on the
brest common to the U' States has appeared, with sundry small
birds.—    many plants begin to appear above the ground.—    saw
a large white gull today—    the Eagle is now laying their eggs,
and the gees have mated.—    the Elm, large leafed, willow and
the bush which bears a red berry, called by the engages greas de
are in blume— [18]
12th small shower from the W. attended with hard wind.
13th The leaves of the Choke cherry are about half grown; the Cotton
wood is in blume    the flower of this tree resembles that of the
aspen in form, and is of a deep perple colour.— [19]
15th several flocks of white brant with black wings pass us today, their
flights was to the N. W.    the trees now begin to assume a green
appearance, tho' the earth at the debt of about three feet is not
yet thawed, which we discovered by the banks of the river, falling
in 〈to the river〉 and disclosing a strata of frozen eath.—
16th saw the first leather winged bat. [20]    it appeared about the size of
those common to the U' States.
17th thunder Shower passed above us from S. W. to N. E.    〈no〉 rain
where we were. [21]
18th Wind very violent    a heavy dew this morning.    which is the first
and only one we have seen since we passed the council bluffs last
summer.    there is but little dew in this open country.—    saw a
flock of pillecan [22] pass from S. W. to N. E.    they appeared to be
on a long flight.—
19th wind violent.    The trees have now put forth their leaves.    the
goosbury, current, servisbury, and wild plumbs are in blume.
20th wind violent.
21st wind violent    white frost last night—    the earth friezed along
the water's edge.—
22nd wind very hard greater part of the day—
23d Do    Do    Do    saw the first robbin. [23]    also the brown Curloo.
24th do.    this morning.
25th do.    until 5 oClock P M
27th wind very hard from 11 to 4 oClock
28th Vegetation has progressed but little since the 18th    in short the
change is scarcely perceptible.
1. Tabled weather observations by both captains are found for the whole of April 1805 in Lewis's Codex Fe and Clark's Codex I. They are accompanied in each case by remarks in both the margins of the tables and separately. There are similar observations and remarks in Clark's Codex C through April 7, 1805, the date of departure from Fort Mandan, when Codex C was apparently sent down the Missouri with the keelboat. Lewis's Weather Diary has observations and marginal remarks through April 9, but lacks the 4:00 p.m. temperature, weather, and wind observations. It would thus appear that Lewis took the Weather Diary with him up the Missouri, although there is no clear reason why he did not continue to use it after April 9. (See Appendix B.) Significant differences in the tabled observations between the four sources are noted. The table given here follows Lewis in Codex Fe. (back)
2. Clark in Codex C has "38 a." (back)
3. Clark in Codex C appears to have "c. a. t. c. h. & r." (back)
4. Clark in Codex I has "N." (back)
5. Clark in Codex C has "N W." (back)
6. Clark in Codex C has "½." (back)
7. Clark in Codex I has "54 a." (back)
8. The two captains have remarks for the month of April in both the margins of the weather tables and in separate sections in Lewis's Codex Fe and Clark's Codex I. Clark has marginal and separate remarks to April 7 in Codex C; Lewis has marginal remarks to April 9 in his Weather Diary. All these have been colated, basically following Lewis in Codex Fe, to provide the fullest coverage without duplication. Coues penciled in some words in Codex Fe that were partially missing due to paper damage. (back)
9. Lewis in the Weather Diary has also "a white frost & Some ice on the edge of river visit by Mr. la rock & MacKinzey, pack up Sundry articles." (back)
10. Bombycilla cedrorum [AOU, 619], cedar waxwing. (back)
11. The killdeer, Charadrius vociferus [AOU, 273], already known to science. Burroughs, 225. The hawk could be any of a number of species in the area. (back)
12. In the Weather Diary Lewis calls it the "bitter elm." (back)
13. The common raven, Corvus corax [AOU, 486], known to science and not described further. (back)
14. Maybe either the hairy woodpecker, Picoides villosus [AOU, 393], or the downy woodpecker, P. pubescens [AOU, 394], although Holmgren suggests the yellow-bellied sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius [AOU, 402]. Burroughs, 240-41; Holmgren, 33. (back)
15. The calumet bird is the golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos [AOU, 349]; prairie hen is the sharp-tailed grouse. (back)
16. Perhaps the horned lark, Eremophila alpestris [AOU, 474]. Reid & Gannon, 19. The plover is the black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola [AOU, 270]. (back)
17. The northern or common flicker, Colaptes auratus [AOU, 412]; here a yellow-shafted subspecies. Burroughs, 241; Holmgren, 34. (back)
18. Clark in Codex I says "Small leaf willows . . . in blum." (back)
19. Lewis compares the plains cottonwood to the quaking aspen, Populus tremuloides Michx. Fernald, 521–22. The purple color refers to the color of elongate male catkins or flowers of both species. (back)
20. The bat may be any one of a number of species. (back)
21. Clark has this under date of April 16 in Codex I, but with a pointing hand from April 17. (back)
22. The American white pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos [AOU, 125]. (back)
23. Probably the ubiquitous American robin, Turdus migratorius [AOU, 761]. (back)