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the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

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Thunderstorm Warnings for Ammunition Plants.-A large number of munitions plants completed for processing high-explosive materials in 1940-41, required protection from the weather, especially thunderstorms. At the request of plant officials, the Weather Bureau organized a Severe Storm-warning Service to issue advisories to plant officials. During the approach of thunderstorms, such advices enabled the plants to evacuate war workers so that they would be safe in the event lightning struck, thus setting off high-explosive materials. On the other hand, the information provided by the service permitted employees to resume work as soon as the danger passed, thus keeping the loss of man-hours of work to a minimum. The assurance of the workers that plant officials and the Bureau were looking after their safety during dangerous weather situations played a large part in maintaining the employees' morale.

The severe storm-warning plan was organized by recruiting observers stationed at several points in all directions from ammunition plant. Reports of thunderstorms approaching their vicinity were telephoned to a central Weather Bureau station or to an office in the plant. Such reports were then interpreted by meteorologists or designated plant officials and advices issued to superintendents for use in evacuating civilian workers to shelter.

Some munitions plants were located in sparsely inhabited country where it was impracticable to obtain sufficient observers to make reports of approaching storms. In such cases, plant superintendents provided trucks with short-wave radio communications facilities to patrol areas in the vicinity of a plant to report the approach of thunderstorms or the existence of other meteorological phenomena which might cause hazards to operation.

The service rendered proved so effective that by December 1942 forecasts, warnings, and advices were being furnished to over 100 plants engaged in manufacturing or storing ammunition and military supplies. By June 1945 nearly 200 storm-reporting networks were in operation and providing service to about 327 Army and Navy air fields, training camps, and other military installations, in addition to plant engaged in war production.

Considerable research is being carried on in the use of radar equipment for detecting the location, movement and intensity of thunderstorms, hurricanes and other meteorological phenomena. The severe storm-warning service being continued in peacetime may be reorganized eventually by the installation of radar equipment at Weather Bureau offices, and in plants where lightning is a hazard so as to provide the same service as above described without the large number of reporting observers.

Special Forecasts and Warnings for Military Purposes.-- In 1940, and continuing through the war years, the rapid growth of the Defense Program and the mobilization for war beginning in 1941, required unprecedented specialization in the issuance of weather forecasts to serve military and domestic needs which far surpassed similar service provided by the Weather Bureau in peacetime. Accordingly, priority was given the issuance of special weather forecasts required by the military forces.

In addition to the usual weather and temperature forecasts, special forecasts were prepared in detail and issued to include indications of quantitative amounts of rain, snow, and sleet expected; the occurrence and intensity of thunderstorms, hail and dust storms; estimates of direction, velocity, and duration of winds, both surface and aloft; the expectancy, occurrence and duration of fog and haze; limits of visibility; aloft, including forecasts of degree days expected during the heating seasons, and river stages and ice conditions on the Great lakes and other numerous rivers of the United States to determine the opening and closing of navigation seasons. In one case, the Army Air Forces asked for and was furnished a special forecast giving the date when the Danube River would become frozen at Budapest, Hungary. Storm, hurricane and flood warnings were issued as heretofore but much expanded to assure greater protection of lives and property, especially at military bases and industrial plants engaged in the war effort.

These special forecasts and warnings were furnished to Army ordnance plants, Army and Navy flying fields; to the Army for carrying on large scale maneuvers; to amphibious commands for training and reconnaissance in detecting enemy submarines; to Army Engineers for use in the construction of many types of military installations; to Army glider detachments in training and maneuvers; to barrage-balloon and smoke detachments engaged in training maneuvers; to port authorities for loading and unloading in the dispatching of convoys; to Chemical Warfare units for training and in conducting experiments; to interceptor commands for defense purposes; to providing grounds and coast artillery units for ballistic purposes; to research units engaged in the development of new weapons of war; to the Army Air Forces to determine the arrival of Japanese incendiary balloons on the west coast; to navy Frontier commands and Army and Navy weather centrals and field offices in the United States for planning various other types military operations of strategic importance.

In addition, military and civilian organizations received all storm, hurricane, and flood warnings issued by the U. S. Weather Bureau for use in protecting lives and property and moving strategic military equipment when necessary before the approach of disastrous storms.

An interesting example of a special forecast follows; in September 1942 the U. S. navy assigned the airplane carrier USS Wolverine on Lake Michigan to the training of Navy pilots. About a year later, the USS Sable joined the USS Wolverine in this program. Weather service consisting of flight forecasts, weather reports, storm warnings, and weather summaries, was supplied to the Navy by the Chicago Forecast Center. These data were turned over to the Navy after being placed in secret cipher and delivered to the carriers by motorboat service supplied by the Navy. Radio was also employed occasionally.

Should such a service be required for a future emergency, the organization for making it effective would probably be developed along similar lines making use of any newly-developed communications facilities and other technique.

Still another special service was developed early in 1945 to assist the United States Forest Service and the Western Defense Command with forecasts and weather information to determine the expected arrival and course of Japanese balloon-bombs in western pacific coastal areas. These incendiary and anti-personnel bombs and balloons were released in Japan in large numbers, and the Forest Service was faced with the problem of protecting valuable national forest areas against fires resulting therefrom. The Weather Bureau office at San Francisco prepared daily forecasts of upper winds at various levels over the Pacific Ocean and contiguous areas in the western states. A meteorological cryptographic system was devised to furnish advices to Forest Service officials at San Francisco, Seattle, and Boise for use in maintaining daily watches for balloons. In addition, this same information served the Western Defense Command in planning interceptor flights off the west Coast.

River Stages and Flood Forecasting.-Extensive, and in many cases, record high floods occurred over large sections of the United States during the war years. Accordingly, it was essential for the Weather Bureau to strengthen its flood warning service for over 80 river district forecast centers to protect vital industries, geared to war production, from loss by floods.

To do this task, the Weather Bureau, early in 1941, enlisted the cooperation of the Army Engineers to supply data on the location of War plants in operation as well as those under construction where potential flood hazards existed. In addition, studies of flood expectancies were made, and new river and rainfall stations were established to supply reports from flood areas. It was on this basis that the flood forecast service of the Weather Bureau was intensified and proved so effective that forecasts and warnings were issued also for the protection of military bases. Air fields, and for military maneuvers which involved the building of pontoon bridges, and fording of streams by troops and mobile equipment. The forecasts and warnings were telegraphed to the Army Weather Group Headquarters for relay to their installations via Army communication channels. Similar service was also provided to the Office of Defense Transportation, War Production Board, War Food Administration, Corps of Engineers, American Red Cross, American Waterways, and others in addition to domestic interests and the general public.

Extended Forecasts for Warfare.-At the outbreak of the war Weather Bureau research and development was largely directed to the preparation of advisory forecasts mostly for periods of five days in advance, accompanied by research directed toward their improvement and to provide forecast for as many days in advance as possible, for ocean and foreign land areas as well as for the continental United States.

The research activities were organized into three sections, the Extended Forecast Section, the Special Forecast Section, and the Verification and Research Section. The functions of the first two units were to develop techniques for forecasting weather for periods up to five and six days in advance, and to apply these techniques to the preparation of experimental advisory forecasts for the United States and the Atlantic and pacific Ocean areas on a regular, twice-weekly schedule. The Verification and Research Section was organized to verify all forecasts and to conduct statistical research in connection with improving extended forecasting methods.

It soon became evident that investigations in extended forecasting would require many more past years of Northern Hemisphere analyzed weather maps than were available. Since these maps were needed also for other purposes, a special project was initiated for the purpose of preparing a historical series of well-analyzed maps for the Northern Hemisphere and for other areas. This project is described elsewhere.

In addition to the extended and long-range forecast investigations, cooperative research projects were continued at universities on problems of special importance to the war. In the early part of the war these projects were not well coordinated with similar projects supported directly by the Army or Navy, but joint support and direction of the research was later provided by the three agencies working through the Joint Meteorological Committee.

In cooperation with the meteorological services of the Army and Navy and with university meteorological departments, research in extended and long-range forecasting was carried out along every line of attack that seemed to offer reasonable opportunity for contribution. All long-range forecasting techniques which had been proposed to the Bureau were examined. In many cases, a quick survey of the proposed basis for forecasting was sufficient to justify discarding it as a possibility for exploitation within a reasonable time. Many of the methods thus discarded were unscientific in the extreme. Some others could not be given tests adequate to demonstrate conclusively their soundness or unsoundness, simple because of the enormous processing of data that would be required. Principal emphasis was placed by the Weather Bureau on the following six lines of attack, with other lines of attack being investigated by the Army, Navy or universities.

1. The "General Circulation" Method of Forecasting.-Basic development of this method of forecasting was begun in 1938 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by a unit working in cooperation with the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the Department of Agriculture. In 1941, the unit was transferred to the Washington office of the Weather Bureau, where its functions have been to prepare extended forecasts for periods of six days in advance, and to carry on research designed to improve these forecasts. In March 1942 experimental work was begun on the extension of the forecast period to a month in advance.

The forecasts for five-day periods cover the elements of average temperature and total precipitation for areas within the United States. In addition, prognostic weather maps are prepared for each day of a six-day period, covering the greater portion of the Northern Hemisphere. These forecasts have been prepared twice weekly, and distributed to all Weather Bureau forecast centers and to the Army and navy weather services. Many special forecasts for practice maneuvers, special flights, and other special operations were prepared at the request of the Army and Navy. In this connection, Mr. J. Namias and Mr. K. E. Smith of the Section received citations from navy Secretary Frank Knox for their work in forecasting for the Allied invasion of North Africa.

The research carried on by the Extended Forecast Section has included numerous projects aimed at improvement of the forecasts. The forecasting procedure calls for the preparation of prognostic mean-pressure maps for sea level and the 10,000-foot level for the period three to seven days in the future. Having given these prognostic maps and the most recent daily observed map, estimates are made of the average temperature, total precipitation, and other weather elements through the five-day period. Thus the forecast consists of two steps, (a) preparation of prognostic maps of the atmospheric circulation pattern and (b) interpretation of these maps in terms of specific weather elements. Research has been directed at improving the accuracy of both steps, and a member of papers have been prepared on the results. These were furnished to Army and Navy meteorologists who were working along similar lines to develop extended forecasting procedures for operational purposes in the various theaters of war. One of the most important papers, "Methods of Extended Forecasting," by Mr. Jerome Namias, summarizes in detail the method of preparing forecasts for six days in advance. This paper was widely distributed to meteorologists of the Allied Forces, and to universities in this country training meteorologists for the Army and Navy.

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