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."
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.
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.
of October 1, 1890, charged the Chief of the newly created civilian
agency with the following duties:
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)
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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