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For centuries weather observing tools consisted of the human eye and the various boy standing next to coop weather stationhuman senses. Only within the last six centuries has the rudimentary technology of weather observation been developed. The rain gauge, barometer, anemometer, hygrometer and thermometer were all invented in the years between 1400 and 1700. These instruments, improved upon through the years, remain basic observing tools of the National Weather Service and its network of cooperative observers today. However, with the advent of the telegraph system in the 1840's, the ability of meteorologists to simultaneously make weather observations at many widely dispersed stations, develop near real-time maps of weather systems, and then predict the future course of observed weather phenomena experienced a quantum leap. Suddenly meteorologists were able to chart the course of weather phenomena on a near continent-wide basis. Since that time communications have improved with the development of radio and telephone, new observing systems such as radar and satellites have evolved, and ever more powerful computing systems have become available to the meteorologist. Concurrently, this has led to improved communication with the public and, in particular, vastly improved warning capabilities. This section highlights the story of some of these improvements and how the capabilities of the National Weather Service to observe, predict, and communicate have evolved through time.

Early radar image
Radar Detection of the Florida Hurricane
History of the use of radar for storm detection.
man at teletype machine
Gateway History
History of the telecommunications in the National Weather Service.
illustration depicting meteorological instruments
Bit of Meteorological History
History of the Weather Service forecast.
History of Meteorological observations in the United States.
early radar image
Radar Detection
Glimpse into the history and philosophy of radar use by the Weather Service.
v. bjerknes
The Problem of Weather Prediction, as seen from the Standpoints of Mechanics and Physics
Written by V. Bjerknes, University of Stockholm

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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