Little Bits of History

National Weather Service

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 9, 2015
National Weather Service

National Weather Service

February 9, 1870: The US National Weather Service (NWS) is established. President Ulysses S Grant signed a joint resolution of Congress and created the Weather Bureau. Their mission was to “provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories…and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms.” The agency was under the Secretary of War because Congress felt military discipline was needed to assure timely and accurate reporting. It was originally called The Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce by US Army Signal Corps Brigadier General Albert J Myer.

Twenty years later it became a civilian entity under the Department of Agriculture and it moved to the Department of Commerce in 1940. The Environmental Science Services Administration was formed in 1966 and took over the Weather Bureau at that time and the parent entity was renamed in 1970 as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and it was at this time the name of the Bureau was changed to the National Weather Service. Throughout its lifetime, the NWS has used text forecasts to get the news of upcoming weather disseminated to various interested parties. Today, that method is enhanced with digital, gridded, image, or other modern formats.

There are 122 Weather Forecast Offices, each identified by a three-letter designation. They are divided into six regions with Alaska as one region and the Pacific which includes Hawaii and Guam as another. The 117 remaining offices are in the Eastern, Central, Southern, and Western regions. Each office sends graphical forecasts to a national server to be compiled in the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD). The database contains common weather observations as well as more detailed information. This is available using a “GRIB2 decoder” which allows for different types of files to be generated and interpreted.

They monitor wildfires and send out daily information and updates as needed. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma issues severe thunderstorm and tornado watches. The Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland monitors conditions for future precipitation and possible flooding. The Ocean Prediction Center, also in College Park, issues warning about coastal waters and marine concerns. The National Hurricane Center and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (located in Miami and Honolulu respectively) monitor for possible tropical weather patterns in their respective oceans. The Climate Prediction Center (College Park) is responsible for climate-related forecasts. Better prediction methods and communication of information have let us all live safer lives.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. – John Ruskin

Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued mostly dark with widely scattered light in the morning. – George Carlin

It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it. – Amelia Barr

Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get. – Mark Twain

Also on this day: Time Savers – In 1942, Daylight Savings Time went into effect.
Toast of the Town – In 1964, The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan.
Rain, Snow, Sleet, and Hail – In  1870, the US Weather Bureau was created.
Sports Enthusiast – In 1895, Mintonette was invented.
Department of Agriculture – In 1889, the department became Cabinet level.

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