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noaa legacy timeline 1900-1969
1807 - 1899 | 1900 - 1969 | 1970 - 2000

- Galveston Hurricane kills over 6,000. The greatest single natural disaster to affect the United States or its territories. President Roosevelt signs bill authorizing construction of the second fisheries laboratory at Beaufort, North Carolina Fisheries Laboratory.

1901 - National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) established from U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Office of Weights and Measures.

1903 - Commission of Fish & Fisheries transferred to Bureau of Fisheries (USBF) in Commerce and Labor Dept. Coast and Geodetic Survey transferred from Treasury Department to Commerce and Labor Department.

1909 - Weather Bureau begins balloon observations.

1912 - First Fire Weather Forecast issued.

1914 - Aerological Section of Weather Bureau begins.

1915 - First radio broadcast of a weather forecast from Illiopolis, Illinois.

1917 - U. S. enters WWI. Commissioned Officers Corps created from field corps of the Coast and Geodetic Survey; that organization is the forerunner of NOAA Corps. Half of commissioned officer service transferred to Armed Services, ships SURVEYOR and BACHE transferred to Navy. Ship ALBATROSS from Bureau of Fisheries transferred to Navy. Numerous personnel from Weather Service serve as meteorologists during WWI.

1918 - The Weather Bureau begins issuing bulletins and forecasts for domestic military flights and for new air mail routes.

1920 - Meteorologists form a professional organization, the American
Meteorological Society.

1923-24 - Coast and Geodetic Survey begins use of acoustic sounding systems; develops radio acoustic ranging, the first marine navigation system ever devised to not have to rely on some visual means of position determination. This system led to discovery of SOFAR, telemetering radio sono-buoys, and marine seismic exploration techniques.

1926 - The Air Commerce Act directs the Coast and Geodetic Survey to begin charting the Nation’s airways and directs the Weather Bureau to provide for weather services to civilian aviation. The fire weather service formally inaugurated when Congress provides funds for seven fire weather districts.

1927 - The Weather Bureau establishes a West Coast prototype for an Airways Meteorological Service

1928 - Teletype replaces telegraph and telephone as the primary method for communicating weather information.

1931 - The Weather Bureau begins regular 5 a.m. EST aircraft observations at Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas and Omaha, at altitudes reaching 16,000 feet. This program spells the demise of "kite stations."

1933 - Coast and Geodetic Survey opens ship base in Norfolk, Virginia.

1934 - Weather Bureau establishes an Air Mass Analysis Section.

1934–1937 - During height of the Depression, Coast and Geodetic Survey organizes surveying parties and field offices that employ over 10,000 including many out of work engineers.

1934-37 - "Dust Bowl" drought in southern plains causes severe economic damage and generates one of the great migrations in human history, from the Central United States to the West Coast showing dramatically the effect of climate changes on human society.

1937 - First Weather Bureau balloon carried radio-meteorograph, or radiosonde, sounding made at East Boston, Mass. Full implementation of this program ends the era of manned aircraft soundings since balloons could be launched in virtually all weather conditions and could fly substantially higher than aircraft. Twelve pilots died flying weather missions.

1937 - January flood on the Ohio River is the greatest ever experienced, with Ohio River levels exceeding all previously recorded. Cincinnati's 80-foot crest and Louisville's 81.4 foot crest have never been exceeded. Seventy percent of Louisville under water, 175,000 of its residents flee their homes; the entire city of Paducah, Kentucky, (population 40,000) is evacuated.

1939 - Bureau of Fisheries transferred from Commerce Department to Department of the Interior and becomes incorporated into the Bureau of
Commercial Fisheries; Weather Bureau initiates automatic telephone weather service in New York City; the American Geophysical Union establishes the Bowie Medal, its highest honor, named for Captain William Bowie of the Coast and Geodetic Survey for his "spirit of helpfulness and friendliness in unselfish cooperative research." Bowie was the first president of AGU (1920–1922) and served again from 1929-1933, the only person to hold this position twice. He was the first recipient of the medal.

1940 - Weather Bureau transferred to Department of Commerce from the Department of Agriculture; Army and Navy establish weather centers; President Roosevelt orders Coast Guard to man ocean weather stations.

1941 - Dr. Helmut Landsberg, "the Father of Climatology", writes the first edition of his elementary textbook entitled Physical Climatology.

1941-1945 - World War II. Technical capabilities of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and Weather Service are devoted completely to the war effort.

1942-1945 - The Coast and Geodetic Survey sends over 1000 civilian members and over ½ of its commissioned officers to the military services. Coast Surveyors serve as hydrographers, artillery surveyors, cartographers, army engineers, intelligence officers, and geophysicists in all theaters of the war. Civilians on the homefront produced over 100 million maps and charts for the Allied forces. Eleven members of the C&GS give their lives during WWII.

1942-45 - The Weather Bureau is declared a war agency. Over 700 Weather Bureau members join the Armed forces. Women are recruited to fill their positions for the duration of the war marking the first widespread professional opportunities for women in the field of meteorology. Eleven members of the Weather Bureau give their lives for the United States during WWII.

1942 - A Central Analysis Center, forerunner of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, is created to prepare and distribute master analyses of the upper atmosphere; Joint Chiefs of Staff establish a Joint Meteorological Committee to coordinate wartime civilian and military weather activities; Navy gives the Weather Bureau 25 aircraft radars to be modified for ground meteorological use, marking the start of a weather radar system in the U.S. Navy aerologists play key role as U.S. Carrier-based Navy planes decimate Japanese fleet in mid-Pacific Battle of Midway Island in early June 1942, marking a turning point in the Pacific War. A cooperative thunderstorm research effort is undertaken by the Bureau, military services, and the University of Chicago.

1944 - The decision to invade Normandy on June 6th was based on weather forecasts, which indicated the correct combination of tides and winds.

1945 - First fallout forecast for a nuclear explosion made at Alamagordo, NM.

1945 - Coast Survey adapts “Gee” aerial bombardment electronic navigation system to hydrographic surveying helping usher in the era of marine electronic navigation.

1946 - The U.S. Weather Bureau selects Cincinnati, Ohio and Kansas City, Missouri, as locations for the nation's first hydrologist-staffed River Forecast Centers. Eventually, 13 RFC's would be established to serve the United States.

1948 - USAF Air Weather Service meteorologists issue first tornado warnings from a military installation. Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies begins research into use of a computer for weather forecasting; this has evolved into today’s National Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Chicago Weather Bureau office demonstrates use of facsimile for map transmission. Coast and Geodetic Survey established Pacific Tsunami Warning System.

1948 - Pacific Tsunami Warning System established in Honolulu, HI.

1950 - First annual Fisheries of the United States published; Weather Service begins 30-Day Weather Outlook; releases Tornado Alerts.

1951 - National Weather Records Center established in Asheville, NC, which eventually becomes the National Climatic Data Center; Severe Weather Warning Center begins operation at Tinker AFB, OK; World Meteorological Organization established by the U.N., Weather Bureau Chief Francis Riechelderfer is elected its first head;

1952 - Bureau organizes Severe Local Storms Forecasting Unit in Washington, D. C. and begins issuing tornado forecasts.

1954 - The Weather Bureau, Navy, Air Force, MIT's Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Chicago form a Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit at Suitland, MD, which becomes operational 1 July 1954. NCEP, AFWA, and FNMOC all can trace their roots to this facility. First radar specifically designed for meteorological use, the AN/CPS-9, is unveiled by the Air Weather Service, USAF.

1955 - Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship PIONEER conducting surveys off United States West Coast tows magnetometer invented by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Discovers magnetic striping on the seafloor, a key element in formulating the Theory of Plate Tectonics.

1956 - Dept. of Interior divides fisheries duties of Fish and Wildlife Service into Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and Bureau of Sport Fishing and Wildlife.

1956 - The Weather Bureau initiates a National Hurricane Research Project.

1957 - Coast and Geodetic Survey celebrates 150 years since President Thomas Jefferson signed law authorizing Survey of the Coast. International Geophysical Year provides first concerted world wide sharing of meteorological research data. Weather Bureau supports first study to modify Navy Doppler radars for severe storm observations – the
beginnings of modern Doppler weather radar.

1958 - The National Meteorological Center is established.

1959 - The Weather Bureau's first WSR-57 weather surveillance radar is commissioned at Miami hurricane forecast center. The Thomas Jefferson and John Campanius Holm awards are created by the Weather Bureau to honor volunteer observers for unusual and outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations.

1960 - World's first weather satellite, TIROS I, successfully launched. In cooperation with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Weather Bureau meteorologists issue first advisories on air pollution potential over the Eastern United States.

1962 - National Severe Storms Laboratory established. Great Lakes Research Center established.

1963 - Weather Bureau obtains two DC-6 aircraft, forming the nucleus for the Research Flight Facility. Polar orbiting weather satellite TIROS III is launched with automatic picture transmission (APT) capability, eventually to provide continuous cloud images to over 100 nations.

1965 - Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) created consolidating the Coast and Geodetic Survey and the Weather Bureau, a major step on the road to NOAA.

1966 - Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act initiates Stratton Commission. National Sea Grant Colleges and Programs Act signed into law. The national operational weather satellite system is formally established on March 5, when NASA transfers control of ESSA 2 to the National Environmental Satellite Center.

1967 - Eleven ESSA research centers established including Atlantic Oceanographic Laboratory, Pacific Oceanographic Laboratory, National Severe Storms Laboratory, and National Hurricane Research Laboratory. National Council for Marine Research, Resources and Engineering Development endorses the formation of the National Data Buoy Development Program within the U.S. Coast Guard - forerunner of the NOAA's National Data Buoy Center.

1968 - Implementation of the World Weather Watch begins.

1969 - Stratton Commission report Our Nation and the Sea recommends a new oceanic and atmospheric agency. Barbados Oceanographic and Meteorological Experiment (BOMEX), the first project of the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP), is conducted off Barbados during May, June, and July.; ESSA Ship and aircraft partake in this milestone experiment. Hurricane Camille, a Category 5 Hurricane, strikes the Mississippi Coast causing widespread damage.

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

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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