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the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

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If the need arises in the future to provide intensified weather forecast and warning service to shipping on the Great Lakes, it appears that the use of radio facsimile equipment with scrambling attachment, which is showing marked development at the present time, might be used to transmit confidential advices to ships at sea in wartime and also satisfy security requirements.

At the height of the war production in the winter of 1944-45 there were serious shortages in fuel, particularly natural gas, so that it became necessary to ration fuel even to industry. Overall controls were established by the Government and the fuel was apportioned among the plants that had the greatest need from a military viewpoint.

Since the demands for gas supplies varied considerable with fluctuations in weather conditions, some fore-knowledge of weather over the most of the northeastern part of the United States were essential in planning the distribution of gas. Consequently, special forecasts were prepared by the Weather Bureau Office in Washington for use by the Chief Gas Dispatching Center in Parkersburg, West Virginia. These forecasts were consulted in planning the distribution of gas to the various regions of the northeast for the next several days.

In January 1945 the American Water Operators were supplied special three-weeks predictions of expected temperature and precipitation trends, flood expectancies, and ice conditions for several key cities on the Mississippi-Ohio River system. Forecasts were issued by the Extended Forecast and River and Flood Sections of the Weather Bureau in Washington, D.C., and telephoned to the Washington office of the Operators. This information was used in determining possibilities of floods occurring and when breakup of ice could be expected in the spring.

The Appalachian Coals, Inc., being concerned with fuel distribution over most states east of the Rocky Mountains, was supplied special twice-weekly fuel consumption forecasts which were telegraphed this concern during heating seasons. Forecasts were prepared in a simple code indicating expected fuel consumption to be much below normal consumption, slightly above, slightly below, or normal consumption. In addition, all warnings of cold waves, strong winds, heavy snows, or any conditions likely to affect coal consumption and distribution, including degree-day data for the area concerned, were furnished to the Company.

Stockpiles of iron ore at the lower end of the Great Lakes waterways were becoming low during 1945 due to the enormous demand of the war-expanded steel industry. The War production Board wished to use the remaining stockpiles as rapidly as possible, consistent with the possibility of replenishing them through movement of ore from the Upper Lakes. The Weather Bureau was asked for and made a prediction as to the opening date of navigation on the Lakes.

Data were assembled for key ports on the Lakes which included current ice thicknesses as compared with previous season, departures from normal temperatures for the current season, the indicated temperature trend, and information on opening dates during past seasons. After careful study of all available material, the prediction was furnished and subsequent events showed that the forecast was highly successful, the opening date occurring within a few days of the predicted date.

It became apparent shortly after our entry into the war that efficient use of existing transportation facilities was mandatory if our war efforts were to continue unhampered. The Office of Defense Transportation, in coordinating transportation facilities, requested the Weather Bureau to provide special weather service therefore.

Individual state forecasts were plotted daily together with particular attention being given to predications of severe weather likely to hamper transportation. A statement was then prepared giving both existing weather and predicted conditions over the entire country and furnished the Office of Defense Transportation daily which was relayed to a number of transportation centers throughout the United States.

Sometime after the system of daily advices to the Office of Defense Transportation was established, the Weather Bureau received a request for similar service from the Agricultural Adjustment Agency of the Department of Agriculture. This Agency required daily weather forecasts and warnings to facilitate the coordination of agriculture problems, including movement of perishable farm products, effect of frosts on the agricultural economy movement of harvest workers into labor-short areas, and other problems. The Weather Bureau made arrangements to prepare and furnish such information daily with emphasis being placed on frost occurrences over the entire country, cold waves, floods, and weather conditions that may affect planting and harvesting operations.

The construction of the Alcan Highway involved major weather problems. The Canadian Meteorological Service in collaboration with the Weather Bureau provided large amounts of past weather data for use by Public Roads engineers in selecting equipment and for planning the construction of this highway. Arrangements were also made for the collection of weather reports form construction crews at regular intervals along the highway. These reports were of value to military flying over the air route which paralleled the highway to Alaska.

The Atomic Bomb project as carried on at Hanford, Washington, was vitally affected by weather. One of the important problems to be decided was the question of release of poisonous gases from smokestacks. A special weather unit was maintained by the project to indicate the conditions under which these gases could be released without danger to the surrounding country. Precipitation, Wind, temperature and air stability forecasts for 24 to 48 hours were required. However, until the establishment of the weather station by the project, forecasts and warnings were supplied by Airport Station, Seattle.

Because of the absence of reports from merchant ships at sea, due to radio silence, it became urgent that some means be devised for locating and tracking tropical storms. The Weather Bureau collaborated with both the Army and Navy in development of hurricane reconnaissance flights. As a result actual flights into hurricanes by military aircraft for the purpose of securing reports on the position and intensity of the storm, were inaugurated. The aircraft are equipped with the latest meteorological instruments and in some instances flew directly into the center or eye of the storm to determine its exact position. These reconnaissance flights by aircraft supplied the necessary information for the weather maps on which are based the forecasts, and were a large contributing factor to the excellent record made by weather forecasters hurricane warning service during the war years. In fact, the operations are considered so essential to an adequate hurricane warning service for the protection of our coastal areas that they will be continued during the 1946 season, even though arrangements for reports from surface ships are being renewed.

Many of the battle areas of the world involved types of climates for which equipment had never been specifically designed. The Quartermasters Corps engaged in an extensive program for testing and developing equipment suitable for these special climates. The Bureau collaborated in many problems of this kind through assignment of personnel or by supply of instruments and special data.

As plans for the invasion of the continents of Europe and Africa became more certain it was necessary for the military to have accurate knowledge of the swell and wave condition on the coast where the landings would be made. The Bureau collaborated with oceanography institute to make available to the Army and Navy the experience and data from several sources in forecasting swell conditions at the point most likely to be attacked.

The purchase, storage, and shipment of enormous quantities of food by the Government was a major problem during the war. Weather vitally affected all three phases of this program and the Weather Bureau was in constant touch with the War Foods Administrator in Washington, supplying daily, weekly, and monthly forecasts of weather over the entire United States.

Alaskan Weather Service.-A history of the development of weather service in Alaska, particularly airway weather service, prior to the war is essential to an evaluation of the contribution of the Weather Bureau to the successful prosecution of the war. The following except from the report of the Alaskan Resources Committee of December 1937 briefly outlines the history of weather service in Alaska prior to that data:

The earliest meteorological observations were begun at Sitka by Russian missionaries in 1828. The meteorological work at Sitka was taken over by Russian Government officials in 1842 and continued until 1867 when the Territory was acquired by the United States. However, aside from this record and a couple of others of a fragmentary nature made at mission stations, there appears to have been no efforts during the Russian occupancy to make systematic weather records.

Soon after the organization of the United States Weather Bureau under the Signal Corps of the Army, by the Joint Congressional Resolution, February 9, 1870 (16 Stat., L., 369), weather observations were begun by the surgeons at several army-post hospitals. Thereafter, a few additional stations were established, with 13 in operation by 1890, but these early records were made generally near the coast and no data became available for the interior until the 80's and then only fragmentary in nature.....

Forecasting activities in Alaska necessarily could not begin until it was possible to secure current daily observations from scattered places in the Territory by cable, telegraph, and radio. Local forecasts for Juneau and vicinity were first issued in 1917, and were extended later to the area traversed by the Alaskan railroad to Fairbanks and the Tanana Valley. In May 1919 Juneau was designated as the district forecast center.

The first observation obtained by radio was from Nome on November 1, 1907, followed by Eagle on June 24, 1909, Kodiak and Dutch Harber on May 1, 1915, and St. Paul on August 8, 1915. Prior to these dates observations were secured regularly from places on or contiguous to the Seattle-Alaska cable. When the forecast service began in 1917 observations were available at Juneau daily or twice daily from 10 places in Alaska.....

In 1931 there were 13 stations transmitting synoptic observations daily, or twice daily, in Alaska. The first service for aviation was inaugurated in the same year, with an appropriation of $26,695.00. For several years thereafter no material change was made in the service to aviation.

The first plans for an expansion began as a cooperative movement early in 1936 on the part of the Department of Interior, War Department, Post Office Department, and Department of Agriculture (Wether Bureau), involving plans for the relief and development of Alaskan aviation. While the request for funds for this project by the Department of Interior for the improvement of territorial possessions was not approved by the Bureau of the Budget in that year, these plans were, in general, followed later when funds became available.

A statement as to the need of aviation and general weather service within Alaska was included in a report to the Congress, as requested in the concurrent Congressional Resolution No. 24, approved August 21, 1937. This report, by the Alaskan Resources Committee, entitled, "Alaska-Its Resources and Development" was presented to the President in December 1937 for transmission to the Congress. The staff report on "Meteorology and Climatology," prepared by representatives of the Weather Bureau and a number of the Army Air Corps, proposed a weather-reporting service consisting of four airway district forecast centers, 7 upper-air reporting stations, and 82 additional synoptic reporting stations. The committee pointed out that the advantageous use of weather reports is dependent upon the ability of the Weather Bureau to organize meteorological observation stations and the effectiveness and expedition with which observations can be obtained form such stations. Hence adequate communication facilities, particularly radio, are vital in carrying out a meteorological program in Alaska. This committee indicated the necessity of full cooperation by radio stations, personnel of the Signal Corps (Army), Navy, and Bureau of Air Commerce (later C.A.A.).

In April 1938 an interdepartmental committee was organized for the purpose of putting into effect recommendations submitted by the National Resources committee with respect to weather service in Alaska. A Weather Bureau representative served on that committee, and at the first meeting on May 2, 1938, plans were drawn up for nine primary airports and 21 secondary landing fields, with the Weather Bureau presenting an estimate for consummation of the project.

The first evidence of fruition of plans of the Interdepartmental Committee was the transfer of $131,500 from the Army Air Corps to the Bureau for use in establishing five radiosonde and pilot balloon stations in Alaska, namely, Point Barrow, Nome, Bethel, Anchorage and Ketchikan. The War Department considered data from these stations as essential for accurate forecasting in Alaska for activities of the Army Air Corps. They were established before the close of the fiscal year 1941, increasing the number of radiosonde stations to seven, since two had been previously established at Fairbanks and Juneau. At the request of the Secretary of War the Weather Bureau set up in its budget for the fiscal year 1942 funds for continued operations of these five stations.

The Chief of the Army Air Corps, outlined "The Minimum Requirements for Safety of Air Corps Operations in the Fairbanks Area," with respect to weather service, and listed the need for 18 additional stations for hourly reporting from 7:30 to 19:30 o'clock with 13 additional stations reporting at 3-hourly intervals, plus a continuance of reports from existing stations within the Territory. He further indicated that additional airway weather service would be required as soon as communication facilities would enable transmission of reports from other points.

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