Respect! Never Forget! There are countless ways, countless people have contributed to the benefit and safety of our country. In the field of battle, one of vital elements has been the weather. History is filled with stories of how weather played a role, and even gave one side an advantage over another. The first time I heard this was Napoleon’s advance into Russia, where the winter was too harsh for the French troops. D-Day was another famous event that benefitted from the weather. The storming of the beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944 was timed out to take place when fog reduced visibility allowed the US and western Allies to successfully surprise and overtake the German forces.
World War II implored a lot of weather knowledge by the US military. The jet stream was first discovered when the war was almost over. The Boeing B-29 was the first high altitude bomber that flew over 22,000 Ft. For the US to successfully reach Japan from their Pacific Island base, they needed help from nature since fuel at normal use would not work. Two Air Force meteorologists assessed the thermal wind to be 168 knots. Their commander didn’t believe it until the flight reconnaissance confirmed 170 knot winds the next day. At the time, the Japanese were launching bomb carrying balloons. If they had discovered the proper altitude and speed of the jet stream first, those could have reached the US.
But the purpose of this post is to honor 4 civilian meteorologists in World War II that were employed by the National Weather Bureau (name prior to National Weather Service we know today). They were on the USS Muskeget about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland providing key weather information for the Atlantic ships. After a storm, a German sub attacked, sinking it. These brave men were among 121 brave souls lost on September 9, 1942. For more on the this story, please read the Washington Post article. It elaborates more on the implication for the first members of the National Weather Service getting the prestigious Purple Heart.
I know the meteorology in our culture today can range from a weather obsession to the butt of jokes when a storm does not play out. There is a severe aspect, and a fun aspect. I do my best to never take myself or my work too seriously, until it the weather is serious. But the value many atmospheric scientists who pioneered the knowledge we take for granted today is something I am proud to share through my networks.
Military History On Weather Maps
According to me college professor Mark Wysocki, the warm and cold fronts we use on weather maps today come from the military. In the civil war, the Union troops had their positions marked on maps by blue ‘pips’ or triangles. Confederate front lines by red lines and half circles. When General Ulysses S Grant became president, he commissioned the National Weather Bureau in 1870. It carried over the importance of weather for military purposes, to civilian benefits. It was believed that those civil war map symbols evolved to carry on the purpose of marking the leading edge of cold and warm air masses.
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