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Weather Bureau

forecasts, daily, special, meteorological, storms, observers, office, time, professor and crops

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WEATHER BUREAU. A governmental or ganization for the purpose of maintaining regu lar meteorological observations, compiling sta tistics of the climate, predicting weather and storms, river floods, frosts, rain, and such other atmospheric phenomena as affect the welfare of mankind. Among early meteorological services of importance were those of the Surgeon-General of the United States Army (1818) ; Russia ( 1837 ) ; Austria ( 1848 ) : Prussia ( 1848 ) ; Smith sonian Institution (1849) ; Netherlands (1849) ; England (180) ; and France (1863). At the pres ent time every civilized nation has its weather bureau or meteorological office, and many have also marine or hydrographic offices. The United States Weather Bureau was reorganized under the Department of Agriculture, July 1, 1891, by the transfer of the meteorological records and duties of the Chief Signal Officer of the Army, hence its history goes back to February 9, 1870.' But in fact the system of observation by voluntary and unpaid observers, forms so large a part of the work of the bureau, goes back to the year 1849, when the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution began to organize this corps of observers; indeed. one may go back to the year 1817, when Josiah Meigs issued his meteorological instructions to the registrars of the l'nited States •Land Office, and 1818, when Dr. Lovell, Surgeon-General United States Army, issued similar instrnet ions to his officials. In 1838 Professor .lanes P. Espy secured the appoint ment of a joint committee on meteorology. rep resenting various scientific interests in Philadel phia. 'this committee began the collection of daily observations and the preparation of daily n•eather maps. In 1842 Espy was appointed meteorologist to the Government, and assigned to duty in the War Department, where he con tinued to compile and study daily weather maps. In 1851 lie was ordered to continue his work under Professor as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution: in 185-1 the latter lie• gan the preparation for the daily display of weather maps based on telegrams from all parts of the country, and from 1856 to 1861 such a limp was daily exhibited and studied, and frequently made the basis of weather prediction. This work was discontinued on account of the irregularities in the telegraph service incident to the Civil War, and was taken up again jointly by the observatory of the Astronomical Society and the Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati in 1868. In February. 1S70, an act of Congress ordered the Secretary of War to provide for the observation and prediction of storms, to which subsequently were added floods and weather. The work that was then being carried on at Cincinnati was therefore transferred to Washington. In 1891 these duties were transferred to the Weather Bureau, which was reorganized under the De partment of Agriculture.

As at present organized, the Weather Bureau comes under the rules governing the civil ser vice of the country. Its first chief was Professor Mark W. Harrington (q.v.), to whom Profes

sor Willis L. Moore (q.v.) succeeded July 4, 1895. The Weather Bureau employs the whole time of about six 111111(1re:1 paid employees, lo cated at about 180 stations. distributed through out this country and the West Indies. It also receives reports of temperature o• rain o• rivers from several hundred special observers and from 2500 voluntary observers of local climatological matters; also about 20,000 special reports on the condition of the growing crops from a meteoro logical point of view.

The bureau receives daily two regular sets of weather telegrams at S A.M. and 8 P.M. on which are based the morning and evening weather charts and the forecasts for the next thirty-six hours. These forecasts are immediately tele graphed to all concerned throughout the coun try and to vessels about to sail in any direction over the adjacent oceans; they are published in local newspapers, on special telegraph forms. on special postal cards, by flag signals, and by other methods of communication. so that within an hour's time after the forecasts leave Washington they can he obtained by any one who lives within sight of a telegraph o• telephone office. Those who can be reached only by mail receive the forecasts a few hours later. The forecasts of heavy storms, cold and injurious frosts and specially hot weather are verified almost without exception; the forecasts of rain are the least successful of ally. (See STORM AND WEATHER SPINAL8.) Special efforts are being made to develop a system of so-called wireless telegraphy so that the forecasts can be communi cated to vessels passing by, off the coast, with out altering their courses, thus sa•iug the delay which they now frequently incur by coming, 11 ithill signaling distanee to inquire about the presence of storms. The eondition of the rivers, especially in times of Hood, is telegraphed to all those interested: predictions of the rise and fall of the water were formerly made from the ven tral office and oftentimes with remarkable suc cess, but at present it is considered sufficient to leave these to the judgment of the local river men. In the special interest of the crops and agrieulture, a weather crop bulletin began to be published in 1887, and is now continued by the Climate and Crop Division; this is a weekly bulletin during the slimmer season, giving full details of the temperature, and rainfall :is eom p:u•ed with normal conditions, and showing the influence of the weather on the development of the future crop. in the winter season this weekly bulletin is replaced by a monthly bul letin showing the quantity of snowfall, the ice in the rivers, the opening and closing of naviga tion, the condition of winter wheat, and the in jury done to crops by cold waves, frosts, or floods. In the interests of the lake navigation, a monthly lake chart is published, showing every feature in regard to the weather or the con dition of the lakes that can interest navigators.

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