Library Blog

Weather and the Law?

Man walking down middle of snow covered city street

This time of year there tends to be a lot of talk about weather. Students and faculty and librarians talk about how cold it is or how much snow we are having or how cold it is AND how much snow we are getting. In honor of the typically coldest and snowiest time of year, here are some interesting intersections between weather and the law that do not involve you shoveling to go to law school!

One of the first intersections between law and weather I found with a random Google search was this statute: “whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.” This statute is at least a bit humorous and makes you wonder what happened that made this an imprisonable offense! For some backstory on this statute, see this Time article. For more information about researching federal legislation, check out the RWU Law Library’s LawGuide on U.S. Research

Another intersection between weather and law is this local ordinance in Provo, Utah, which states, “Every person who shall willfully or carelessly within the limits of this City throw any…snowball… whereby any person shall be hit, or any window broken or other property injured or destroyed or in such manner as to render travel upon the public streets and places of the City dangerous, or in such a manner as to frighten or annoy any traveler, is guilty of a misdemeanor.” Surprisingly, this offense is still on the books, unlike the Severance, Colorado ordinance, where a young boy got the ordinance overturned according to this news article. The Severance snowball ordinance appears to also intersect with libraries, as it was recently made into a book. If you are interested in seeing if any Rhode Island municipalities have any snowball ordinances, you can see the RWU Law Library’s LawGuide called Rhode Island Research which has a page dedicated to researching Rhode Island municipal law.

The last intersection of law and weather that we are going to discuss in this post is this cool old book from the library called Weather Modification and the Law. It is a book that contains information from a two-day lecture-workshop program scheduled by the Institute of Aerospace Law of the S.M.U. Law School for Dec. 7-8, 1967. Weather modification, according to at least one consultant to attorneys from Massachusetts named Dr. Ronald B. Standler, is the effort by humans “to change naturally occurring weather, for the benefit of someone.  The best-known kind of weather modification is cloud seeding, with the goal of producing rain or snow, suppressing hail (which can ruin crops), or weakening hurricanes.” One example of a “weather modification” case for your consideration is Slutsky v. City of New York, 97 N.Y.S.2d 238 (Sup.Ct. 1950).

We hope you enjoyed this post and that you stay safe and warm this cold and snowy winter! If you have any questions, please stop by the reference desk or email us at

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