WEATHER BUREAU. The invention of the electric telegraph made It possible to apply the developing science of meteorology to the art of weather forecasting. While American scientists were pioneers in the development of the knowledge of the atmosphere, the United States was not the first government to organize a weather reporting service but it was the first to do so on a large scale. Its broad expanse of territory permits it, with the aid of simultane ously taken observations at over 200 stations, to chart and study the operations often of several different storms at the same time, and to fore cast their movements through two or three thousand miles of their progress eastward. Warnings of frosts, cold waves, floods, rain and snow storms, and of winds dangerous to mariners, are worth many millions annually, and the saving of human life is large Fore casts cannot he made with mathematical accu racy, for they are practically all empirical de ductions, but they do have such a high degree of verification that no one whose life or prop erty is affected by the coming of severe storms would to-day consider for a moment doing without the benefit to be derived from them.
For many years the Smithsonian Institution was the custodian of meteorological observa tions collected from government officials and others by mail, and Prof. Joseph Henry, Sec retary of the Institution, in 1858, was the first person in this country (probably in the world) to collect by telegraph simultaneously taken weather observations and daily plot them on a publicly displayed map. Except in a ten tative way, it does not appear that forecasts were made from these maps. He demonstrated, however, the feasibility of a national weather bureau, such as Dr. Increase A. Lapham, of Wisconsin, had diligently advocated for many years preceding, and such as Maury had sug gested as the result of his studies of the storms of the oceans, and as Redfield had recommended in -1846.
Henry's map was discontinued with the breaking out of the Civil War, after having been in operation but a short time, as was a weather report issued by Prof. Cleveland Abbe, at
Cincinnati, in the fall of 1869, with the aid of the Western Union Telegraph Company and the Cincinnati Board of Trade.
The persistent study of Lapham in taking comparative observations with Dr. Asa Horr, of Dubuque, Iowa, in 1853 and in 1860; the publishing of results in the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1861, showing, as Jefferson and Madison had done for Virginia many year before, that weather changes also progress from the west in the Mississippi Valley; his work in collect ing and compiling records of the loss of life and property on the Great Lakes due to storms, and his petitions to scientific, commercial and legis lative bodies, was mainly and immediately re sponsible for the resolution introduced in Con gress by Gen. Halbert E. Paine, of Wisconsin, in 1870. This finally initiated a government weather forecasting system in the United States that has grown to be the largest of its kind In the world and more intimately to serve the peo ple than does any other.
Gen. Albert J. Meyer, U. S. A., the first chief, a man of splendid executive attainments, so wisely laid the foundations of the new and unique service and so successfully demonstrated its value to the industries of the nation, that Congress readily gave the appropriations neces sary for its growth and development. General Meyer at once called to his aid Dr. Lapham and Professor Abbe. Lapham did not wish to leave Wisconsin permanently, where he was considered one of the most useful citizens of the State, but he did service for a time at Chi cago, where he made the first government weather map and issued to the first r government forecasts, then led 'probabili ties.' Professor Abbe accepted service and be came a scientific aid to the chief in Washington, which position he held continuously until the day of his death in 1916.