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the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

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Creation of the National Weather Service. --The National Weather Service, now known as the Weather Bureau of the Department of Commerce, was created as a branch of the Signal Service, later the Signal Corps of the Army, by a Joint Congressional Resolution approved February 9, 1870. It provided "for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories of the United States, and for giving notice on the northern lakes and at the seacoast, by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms."

Under the military service the general administration and taking of observations was placed in the hand of officers and enlisted men, but the higher technical work from the beginning was directed and performed in large measure by civilians.

Weather Service Transferred to Civilian Agency.-While the Weather service was originally designed for the benefit of navigation on the seacoast and the Great Lakes, it was soon extended to include the interior districts and the great rivers of the central valley. The benefits of weather service were soon recognized and business industries, the general public, and farmers demanded special forecasts and warnings applicable to their needs. These demands soon became so voluminous that the urgent need of a new organization, devoid of militarism, and with a more scientific status, became apparent. Accordingly, when this need was brought to the attention of Congress, an Act, approved October 1, 1890, transferred the weather service of the Signal Corps to the Department of Agriculture effective July 1, 1891.

The Act of October 1, 1890, charged the Chief of the newly created civilian agency with the following duties:

The Chief of the Weather Bureau, under the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture (Commerce), shall have charge of the forecasting of weather, the issue of storm warnings, the display of weather and flood signals for the benefit of agriculture, commerce, and navigation, the gauging and reporting of rivers, the maintenance and operation of seacoast telegraph lines and the collection and transmission of marine intelligence for the benefit of commerce and navigation, the reporting of temperature and rainfall conditions for the cotton interests, the display of frost and cold-wave signals, the distribution of meteorological information in the interests of agriculture and commerce, and the taking of such meteorological observations as may be necessary to establish and record the climatic conditions of the United States, or as are essential for the proper execution of the foregoing duties. (15 U.S.C. 313)

The Weather Bureau carried on these basic duties without material change for a considerable period of time, except that specific additions were contained in appropriation legislation from time to time.

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