When did modern weather forecasting begin?

On May 14, 1692, a weekly newspaper, A Collection for the Improvement of Husbandry and Trade, gave a seven-day table with pressure and wind readings for the comparable dates of the previous year. Readers were expected to make up their own forecasts from the data. Other journals soon followed with their own weather features. In 1771, a new journal called the Monthly Weather Paper was completely devoted to weather prediction. In 1861, the British Meteorological Office began issuing daily weather forecasts. The first broadcast of weather forecasts was done by the University of Wisconsin's station 9XM at Madison, Wisconsin, on January 3, 1921.

When was the first official storm warning issued in the United States?

Professor Increase Lapham, working with the U.S. Signal Corps, issued the first severe storm warning in America on November 8, 1870. The warning concerned a storm that was building strength in the Great Lakes.

What are cooperative weather observers?

While the U.S. government funds many weather stations throughout the country, the cost of supporting all of the stations that would be necessary to fully observe the weather everywhere would be prohibitive. Thankfully, volunteers known as cooperative weather observers assist by taking readings and measurements about winds, temperatures, precipitation, and so forth, providing this data to meteorologists in cooperation with the National Weather Service and the National Climatic Data Center.

Who came up with the idea for volunteer weather observers?

That credit goes to American physicist and mathematician Joseph Henry (1797-1878), the second president of the National Academy of Sciences who was also the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Henry made advances in the area of electromagnetics, which led to his study in electromagnetic relays, which, finally, was the basis for Samuel Morse's (1791-1872) invention of the telegraph. While secretary at the Smithsonian, it dawned on Henry that the wonderful new telegraph could be used to link together weather observers throughout the country who could then relay the information to Washington, D.C. This became the network of volunteer observers that we have today.

How do meteorologists predict weather using changes in air pressure?

Meteorologists can forecast many details about the weather based on barometric readings. Generally, changes in air pressure indicate the following:

Decreasing pressure foretells rainy, windy, stormy weather.

Small, quick drops in pressure are good indicators that short periods of wind and rain will follow.

Slow, moderate drops in pressure indicate a low pressure system is in the area but this will not likely cause severe weather.

Slowly decreasing pressure over a longer period of time foreshadows poor weather that will last for some time.

Slowly decreasing pressure that was preceded by high pressure means that poor weather will be particularly bad.

Increasing pressure is an indication of dry, colder weather.

Slow, large rises in pressure mean that good weather is approaching and will likely last a long time.

Rapidly rising pressure when the pressure is already low is a good indicator of upcoming fair weather.

Rapidly decreasing pressure is a good prediction that a storm will hit within six hours.

Is there a difference between The Farmer's Almanac and The Old Farmer's Almanac?

The Old Farmer's Almanac was first published in 1792 under the editorial leadership of Robert B. Thomas (1766-1846) and is currently published out of Dublin, New Hampshire. The similarly titled Farmer's Almanac debuted in 1818 in Ohio; the founding editor was David Young (d. 1852), and the publication is now headquartered in Lewiston, Maine. They are, indeed, different publications, although more confusion arises from the fact that, initially, The Old Farmer's Almanac was called The Farmer's Almanac for a number of years. Both, though, are almanacs, which means they include information about upcoming astronomical events, such as tides, sunrises and sunsets, lunar cycles, and so on. For added interest, they include cook-

Can groundhogs accurately predict the weather?

Over a 60-year period, groundhogs have accurately predicted the weather (i.e., when spring will start) only 28 percent of the time on Groundhog Day, February 2. Groundhog Day was first celebrated in Germany, where farmers would watch for a badger to emerge from winter hibernation. If the day was sunny, the sleepy badger would be frightened by his shadow and duck back for another six weeks' nap; if it was cloudy he would stay out, knowing that spring had arrived. German farmers who emigrated to Pennsylvania brought the celebration to America. Finding no badgers in Pennsylvania, they chose the groundhog as a substitute.

ing recipes, gardening tips, nature news, and advice columns. Published annually, they also both make predictions about the weather for the coming year, which is what made them desirable books for farmers to own. Both books claim to have secret formulas for predicting the weather the most accurately, with The Old Farmer's Almanac claiming it has an accuracy of 80 percent. Meteorologists dispute such claims, though, and also note that the almanacs make broad generalities about weather forecasts that makes them hard to refute. For instance, a prediction for spring might say that the Midwest will experience more rain than usual.

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