Pat Shingleton for Jan. 11, 2013

Today marks the anniversary of “America’s most fascinating and surreal disaster.” As noted in a previous column, on Jan. 11, 1919, Boston’s Daily Globe reported “a cold air mass settled in.” The following morning, the mercury tumbled from 36 to 20 at 2 p.m., then to 7 at 10 p.m., then 2 degrees. Crews from the ship Miliero pumped a half-million gallons of molasses from its warm hold into tanks holding existing cold molasses, causing a bubbling churn and vibrating the tank’s walls. Workers reported the walls groaned. This process activated fermentation, aided by a temperature rise to 50. Then the top of the 58-foot tank blew and a 50-foot wave of 2 million gallons rushed over the streets killing 21, injuring 150. Fastcast: Springlike.