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the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

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There are very few meteorological texts in Spanish, and it has been a part of our program to translate into Spanish and make available through publication in that language a number of selected pamphlets and a few books. These have met with a warm reception on the part of students and workers in Latin American Meteorology and have supplied a much needed addition to the literature.

It does not appear desirable or necessary to maintain another Inter-American school outside of the United States with funds provided wholly by this government. The idea of a Western Hemisphere School located in Latin America is quite within the realm of possibility. Visiting professors could take part in the instruction which should be given in both Spanish and Portuguese. It would be restricted to advanced training and, as a consequence, classes would be relatively small. For schools at the under graduate level we would have to look to the larger Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries. It would seem possible that some arrangement of this kind could be worked out through the Pan American Union.

The program of granting of fellowships to Latin-American students will be conducted in the future on a reduced scale, with the important variation that contributions toward such fellowships will be encouraged and possibly required on the part of the country from which the student comes. Such contributions are already being made more and more. For example, during the coming year Argentina plans to send three specialists or students to this country and will pay all expenses. Further, exchanges of specialists will in the future, no doubt, largely replace the student training program, except in countries which cannot afford to pay for their students and which have no specialists to interchange.

Personnel Staffing Problems.-At the beginning of the war emergency, the weather observer staff of the Bureau was composed of male employees with the exception of two positions filled by women. This required swift action to interest women to enter this field of work if the observational program was to be continued without interruption . Steps to do this were taken through various forms of publicity and women were employed in increasing numbers as the service expanded and male employees entered the military service. New employees were given a short period of intensive training in regional training classes for observers, followed by a period of on-station training. The course was so organized and conducted that after a training period of three months the new appointee could take the least arduous weather observing assignments. By V-J Day the majority of observational positions were held by women. They did a very creditable job and without them it would have been impossible to have provided the armed forces with meteorological information vital to their operations.

The fact that these employees were required to work on rotating shifts covering 24 hours per day and seven days per week resulted in a large turnover which averaged nearly 50% for each of the war years. This aggravated the recruitment program since it made it necessary to train an excessive amount of new personnel. Soon after the outbreak of actual hostilities the matter of maintaining sufficient personnel to carry on the various activities of the Bureau became difficult. Prior to the war the majority of appointments, both in the field and Washington, were made by the Bureau in Washington. However, the large expansion and great turnover in personnel made it essential to decentralize much of the recruitment work to the eight regional offices of the Bureau in 1943, and to delegate appointing authority to the regional directors covering a majority of lower-grade employees, particularly in connection with the observation program. This decentralization was further extended later on as conditions required to include higher-grade employees. This has made recruitment much more rapid and has enabled the Bureau to meet numerous emergencies which otherwise would have been impossible for satisfactory handling.

As meteorological units of the Army and Navy were expanded it became more and more difficult to maintain an adequate force of experienced professional meteorologists. The Bureau cooperated with the various educational institutions engaged in such training by resealing to them on leave without pay employees qualified to teach meteorological subjects. A major portion of the students who completed the courses were immediately commissioned by the Army or Navy. Only a comparatively small number were made available to the Weather Bureau.

Because of the acute shortage of meteorologists available for civilian assignments it was necessary for the Bureau to request deferment for many of its employees who could not be replaced. Such requests were confined to professional meteorologists in the United States and to professional meteorologists and technicians outside the continental United States.

In this connection, the Bureau expresses appreciation for the courteous and cooperative treatment received from the Deferment Review Committee of the War manpower Commission. This Committee was at all times most considerate of the problems with which the Bureau was confronted. Throughout the entire war period, the Bureau's employment problems were made less difficult by the hearty cooperation of the Civil Service Commission in aiding the Bureau to solve numerous unforeseen problems that arose from time to time. This was particularly true in the field service of the Bureau which comprises 3/4 of the Bureau's personnel and activities. The personnel problems of the Bureau were alleviated considerably by the action of the Commission in substituting war service regulations early in 1942 for the permanent regulations theretofore in force; also by promulgating temporary regulations during March 1946 to take care of reconversion personnel problems. Both of these actions were in accord with authority contained in Executive Orders.

Procurement Difficulties.-Difficulty is securing equipment and supplies was experienced by the Bureau shortly after war was declared. This was especially true of meteorological instrumental equipment which contained critical materials that were required in large quantity by the military forces. Next in order of difficulty of procurement were automotive equipment, balloons, hardware, metal filing cases, and office machines.

The priorities provisions originally set up by the Office of Production Management were unsatisfactory and hampering. It required a number of personal contacts with representatives of O.P.M. by the Bureau contract officer to work out satisfactory procedures and to obtain necessary blanket authorities. This was time consuming and caused serious delays in obtaining urgently needed equipment.

In order to conserve as much as possible critical materials required in large quantity by the military, the Bureau wherever possible resorted to repairing equipment already on hand, thereby prolonging its life; obtaining surplus supplies when practicable; and substituting non-critical materials, such as wood instead of metal office furnishings, when the substitute were more easily obtainable. However, it soon developed that substitutes also became scarce because of the large demand caused by expansion of war activities of all kinds. An example of this was balloons. This was an item vital to our needs in obtaining upper-air information for military flying. The Bureau substituted synthetic balloons for those made of rubber. Soon thereafter the procurement of synthetic balloons became acute because of the limited stockpile available, and the large demand for balloons and other items made of this material. It then became necessary to work out plans with the military agencies to release a certain quantity of balloons to the Bureau to meet its immediate requirements.

The authority exercised by the Bureau as a war agency to negotiate contracts for critical equipment for war purposes instead of resorting to the usual bid procedure was of considerable help. This permitted of negotiating contracts direct with sources of known supply and insured the Bureau of the best available deliveries. This procedure is highly recommended for all future procurement during National emergencies.

As the war progressed and the O.P.M. was reorganized as the W.P.B., the Army and navy Munitions Board and other technical equipment procurement committees were established, simplifications and improvements were made in the distribution of scarce materials. The Weather Bureau was assigned a priority rating of AA1, which was second only to the AAA rating assigned the military service. Under this procedure necessary items were furnished to the Bureau after the needs of the military services were met. Arrangements were also made among the parties concerned whereby some articles of short supply, available to the military, were consigned to the Weather Bureau.

In addition to engaging in considerable research in meteorological instrumental problems, and aiding in the designing and improving of suitable instrumental equipment adapted to war purposes, such as radiosondes, ceilometers, etc., the Bureau, through its representation on the Subcommittee on Equipment of the Joint Meteorological Committee, assisted the military services in the preparation of specifications for the purchase of such equipment. Satisfactory solutions were reached on technical matters through coordination with the military services in standardizing technical specifications to simplify the manufacture and procurement of meteorological equipment, but, as indicated before, the Bureau found itself handicapped in its own procurement programs by the operation of certain limitation orders issued by the War Production Board. The military agencies cooperated when necessary in the extension of adequate priority ratings to Weather Bureau procurements but such ratings did not remove the restrictions of the limitation orders applying to the Weather Bureau.

The following is therefore recommended as one solution to the problem of production, distribution and procurement of meteorological equipment during a war period:

Set up an action committee consisting of one representative of the meteorological office of the various departments. This committee also should constitute a panel on the War Production Board with authority to allocate available production among the various services as required. Such a panel would constitute the final authority for coordinating requirements of the several meteorological services in the procurement or technical equipment.

Printing and Issuing Publications.-The Printing Section of the Weather Bureau was practically the only governmental agency engaged in the printing of weather maps and meteorological information at the time of the outbreak of hostilities in 1941. The demands for reproduction of weather information immediately became so great and exacting that prewar printing facilities were found to be inadequate. To relieve this situation priorities for the acquisition of additional offset presses and related equipment were obtained from the War Production Board. The purchase and installation of a large camera to photograph maps 40"x40" was an outstanding procurement. This camera was operated for 24 hours a day and was of strategic importance in the photographic reproduction of world-wide meteorological data for military operations. In order to operate the additional equipment during regular and irregular hours the staff of the Printing Section was greatly increased.

Instructional weather maps both analyzed and unanalyzed, were supplied in enormous quantities by the Weather Bureau to support the several personnel training programs. One series of maps alone totaled 300,000 copies. Printing of the Washington Daily Weather Map was restricted and issued seven days late as a precautionary wartime measure. No maps were issued by field stations. A Civilian Pilot Training map with a daily issue of 6000 copies was provided for the duration of the course. To supplement these instructional maps there were printed and made available to interested services and organizations special weather guides, graphs, charts and visual presentations of the world with special emphasis on climatic conditions of strategic areas.

The photographic laboratory of the Printing Section successfully photographed the original maps and prepared the negatives for reproduction of the series of historical weather maps that were published in book form for a period of 40 years. Because of the magnitude of the project the facilities of the Weather Bureau and the Government Printing Office were not adequate to handle it so that contracts were negotiated through the Public Printer for commercial printing, at a cost of approximately a quarter of a million dollars. This cost shared proportionately by the Army, Navy, and Weather Bureau.

Emergency demands of the Army required a reproduction service for the duplication and preservation of a large quantity of tabulated meteorological data, maps and graphs. A unit was therefore set up with additional enlarging and printing facilities. This unit averaged 15,000 photographic prints from microfilm each month during the emergency. A wide range of subjects was filmed, such as meteorological data, foreign-language books, radiosonde records, bomb-run data and special scientific papers.

The educational and training programs also required the making of special lantern slides, photographic enlargements, reductions and additional prints. The program of Latin-American cooperation also necessitated the production of meteorological data in various forms. Weather codes were photographed and processed under the strictest security provisions for the use of the armed forces.

Administrative functions were greatly enlarged and accelerated by the emergency. This involved the writing of specifications, the purchasing of new equipment, procuring of ink, photographic and lithographic supplies, enormous quantities of paper, and the processing of meteorological data from the raw material to the finished product. Mailing lists of publications were purged and controlled. Some were discontinued for the duration.

Should another emergency arise additional equipment of the latest type will be required for offset and photographic work to add to that now in use. The new equipment should provide especially for the prompt and efficient printing of multi-colored maps and colored photographs. Such new equipment would also have much present value and permit of meeting more easily future emergency needs should it be necessary. Air conditioning and temperature-control units are also required to accelerate reproduction by eliminating guess work as to the condition of paper and composition of chemicals affected by humidity and temperature.

Since the time element is so vitally essential in wartime, the ability to produce weather information and maps for strategic and other operations necessitates accurate high-speed equipment, lack of which resulted in handicaps that were experienced during the present war.

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Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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