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the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

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Climatological Statistics, Preparation and Use.-The Weather Bureau had very little statistical data on foreign climates which were in usable form for the various operations of our military services at the outbreak of war. Consequently, action was taken at the request of the War and Navy Departments, early in 1941, to organize a statistical unit to obtain and process the necessary records. Assistance was given by the Work Project Administration during the years 1941 and 1942, their total contributions amounting to $600,000. Army and Navy contributions, during the period 1941-1945, have amounted to approximately $3,730.000. The function of the statistical unit was to tabulate, summarize and analyze weather records for all strategic areas. This involved the utilization of all available or obtainable weather records for the regions concerned. Fortunately, the Weather Bureau Library had on file a large amount of such material in published form. For more recent unpublished records, however, it was necessary to obtain copies from a variety of sources, such as the meteorological services of our Allies and United States and foreign air lines.

The central unit of 120 people in Washington, D. C., was supported largely by Army Air Forces funds, and with auxiliary units, maintained by WPA allotments, located in New York City, Pittsburgh, PA., New Orleans, La., and Birmingham, Ala. The total personnel in the auxiliary units averaged approximately 300 during 1942. When the Work Projects Administration was abolished early in 1943, the unit at Birmingham was discontinued and additional Army Air Forces funds provided to support those at New Orleans, Pittsburgh and New York. The New York unit was continued until December 1943 and the Pittsburgh unit until April 1945. The Washington and New Orleans units have been continued into the post-war period.

During the early months of the war a number of special climatic reports were prepared by the Statistics Division to meet the various demands of the military services. By July 1, 1943, a total of 417 special reports had been furnished. After that data the actual preparation of the special climatic reports was handled primarily by military personnel; using the data tabulated and summarized by the Statistics Division.

As before stated it was decided that the basic material for the preparation of the Northern Hemisphere maps should be placed on punched cards and listings made for each day's map by I.B.M. machines. The job was finished on a drastic schedule of six months and the maps printed and made available to the allied military meteorologists early in 1944. This particular project demonstrated conclusively the advantages of using punched card methods in the processing of large volumes of meteorological data. Consequently, it was decided that as much as possible of the available records for the strategic war operational areas (including the records accumulated by the Army and Navy weather services during the war) should be placed on cards. To accomplish this, the machine unit set up at New Orleans was expanded and an additional machine unit was set up in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1944. By April 1945 when the Pittsburgh unit was terminated the greater portion of the backlog of Army hourly weather records (approximately 11,000,000 observations), together with approximately 5,000,000 foreign weather observations, particularly in the Pacific war area, had been placed on cards. Duplicate sets of these cards were made available to the Army Weather Service for processing in their machine unit in the Pentagon Building in Washington, D.C. From these cards numerous special reports and studies were made for a variety of military operations.

Additional special statistical compilations were prepared for war use, as follows:

        • DATA FOR UNRRA

Upon the formation of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, the Weather Bureau was called upon to furnish climatic data for a number of foreign countries for the use of this organization is selecting suitable clothing, seed grains, etc., for the various regions.


For several years prior to the war the Weather Bureau had been engaged in preparing the climatic data, including flying weather and upper air winds, for the Naval Air Pilots, which were published at the rate of about two per year by the Hydrographic Office of the Navy Department. At the outbreak of the war the production schedule was greatly accelerated with data being furnished for a total of 24 additional areas during the national emergency. Upper air wind summaries were of necessity prepared by punched card methods in order to meet the accelerated schedule.


Due to the tremendous amount of flying, both combat and transport involved in the war, demands for statistical summaries of upper air wind records for foreign counties were extremely urgent. Relatively few such summaries were available in published form but a great amount of original observational data were on hand in the Weather Bureaus Library. These records were, accordingly, processed by machine methods and made available as rapidly as possible to the Allied Air Services. A total of approximately 200 foreign records were thus put into usable form for our military flying activities.


Due to the scarcity of summarized foreign weather data in conveniently usable form, the need for a standard summary form became immediately evident upon the outbreak of the war. A card form, approved by the military authorities was, accordingly, designed for this purpose and the data compiled and entered thereon for a total of more than 4000 foreign locations. This file of cards has proved to be invaluable for both wartime and peacetime activities.


Approximately two years before the beginning of the war, the Weather Bureau received assistance from the Work Projects Administration for the operation of several annual degree-day and air-conditioning data for all first-order Weather Bureau stations in the United States and Alaska. The work was nearing completion when, with the opening of the war, specific information for selected locations was requested by the Army Engineers.

The work was continued as a W.P.A. project and certain supplementary funds were transferred from the Army to the Weather Bureau. As a result of this arrangement, monthly, seasonal and annual maps for the United States and Alaska, based on data for first-order Weather Bureau stations, were prepared for the Army Engineers. A report was also submitted giving these data in detailed tabular form. Subsequent to this transmittal of maps and supporting data, the Engineers determined that their requirements were such that data were needed for many Army Posts and prospective posts, not located close to first-order Weather Bureau stations, and, therefore, that similar data must be compiled for a much closer net-work of stations. The Weather Bureau was requested to prepare this material using data from a large number of cooperative stations. A special project, supported by funds transferred from the War Department, was set up for this purpose.

This work was completed covering all available data from 1898 to 1941, inclusive. As in previous projects the daily mean temperature value was used and 65 was taken as the base from which the degree days were computed. The process of using marked sensed punched cards was utilized in order to expedite the program. Four extensive reports were furnished the Army Engineers. The title of one report, "Average Seasonal Degree Days for Military Points of Operation in the United States," indicates the nature of the material furnished. During the war these data were classified and therefore not available to the public. Numerous smaller services were also rendered such as the publication of Army Station location maps, graphical presentations of data, and special studies of reports from representative Army stations giving the effect of different wind velocities and sky covers as associated with the various temperatures as reflected in the record of fuel consumption at those stations.

An interesting by-product of this project was the preparation of a large map of the United States on which the normal annual number of degree days were entered and approximate isolines of equal annual values were drawn. This map was furnished to the O.P.A., for use during the formation of the fuel rationing program in the National emergency.

The Bureau furnished the O.P.A. currently, each day, the degree-day values for a considerable number of stations over the United States. Data in the same form or modified as necessary, were also furnished the Solid Fuels Administration for War and the Special Service Forces of the Army. The U.S. Government was thus enabled to adjust the fuel allotments as the season progressed in each of the different parts of the country. In one part of the country, for example, the accumulated number of degree days on a particular January 1st might be well above normal (below normal) while on the same date some other section might have experienced abnormally high temperatures with below normal degree days.

The data compiled in these various projects are retained by the Weather Bureau in manuscript, tabular and punched card form. Publication of these data has not been undertaken as yet, due in part at least, to the present lack of complete agreement as to the basic methods best suited to the program of estimating fuel needs and air-conditioning requirements.


The recent wartime experience has demonstrated the need for close coordination of the meteorological activities of different Government agencies. Realizing this need, certain definite steps have been taken by the Joint Meteorological Committee to remedy the situation. First, agreement has been reached and action taken to standardize the various types of meteorological record forms used by the three services. Second, the Army and Navy weather services have agreed to deposit all of their records of the three services to be made available through the Weather Bureau. Third, the establishment of a joint punched card library and machine unit will make all such data readily available to each of the three services and eliminate the duplication of effort and expense which would result if separate units were maintained. There is still need, however, for further coordination and centralized control of climatic activities of other Government agencies.

The use of punched cards and machine methods of processing weather data during the war has demonstrated that this method has decided advantages over manual methods. The continuation and expansion of machine methods, appear, therefore, to be a necessity if we are to keep adequately prepared for national defense and to meet our new and varied peacetime demands. We cannot supply the climatic statistics needed for the forthcoming home-building and airport construction programs unless machine methods are used.

In order to properly serve both our military and civilian interests, a plan should be worked out whereby we can currently accumulate in our files pertinent foreign weather data. This should be done by arrangement with foreign weather services, probably through the International Meteorological Organization to obtain (1) copies of original records, (2) summarized data in a form internationally agreed upon or (3) punched cards of the original data.

Service to Civilians.-Restrictions on the release of weather information after pearl harbor presented numerous problems in maintaining wether service to the public including agricultural and industrial concerns, transportation, shipping on the Great Lakes, inland waterways, and other interests.

As a result of security plans formulated previously by the Defense Meteorological Committee, the Weather Bureau, in December 1941, was enabled to continue forecast and warning service to the public and comply with security requirements. Most of the weather service provided to public individuals was in the form of operational advices. For example, orchardists desiring to spray fruit trees were informed as follows: "Spraying conditions satisfactory next three days." In cases when highways would become dangerous because of heavy snow, sleet, etc., individuals requesting weather information relating thereto, were informed that dangerous highway conditions would continue to develop during the next 24 to 48 hours, as the case may be. By this plan, direct references to weather conditions expected beyond a 26-hour period, were avoided.

A number of other examples of service rendered to public interests during the war were provided by the Weather Bureau as follows:

The need for moving a quantity of strategic war materials on the Great Lakes beginning early in 1942, which would exceed 2 times the normal peacetime tonnage, was essential to the successful outcome of the war effort. To do this task, it was apparent that the normal 8-months' season of navigation had to be extended. As a result, it was highly important for the Weather Bureau to expand its forecast and warning services to shipping to include as much as possible of the months of March and December during which frequent storms of considerable intensity pass over the Lake Region and creates dangers to navigation.

To accomplish this task, the Weather Bureau set up a meteorological cryptographic radio communication system for direct ship to shore contacts with ore-carrying vessels and issued forecasts directly to ships throughout the 24 hours and also intensified the system of storm warnings. Weather forecasts and storm-warning advisories were prepared and issued by the Chicago Forecast Center while the Cleveland office made arrangements for radio broadcast schedules and conducted liaison between the Lake Carriers and Shipmasters Associations and the Weather Bureau.

Confidential ciphers were prepared at frequent intervals and distributed to all shipmasters for use in decoding the enciphered forecast messages. So effective were the methods developed for the broadcast of forecast to shipping on the Great lakes during this period that vessel masters have unanimously requested that the numeral forecast code be continued in peacetime. Enciphering of these messages were discontinued in 1943, owing to the relaxation of security measures as the threat of invasion became remote.

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