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the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

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Aviation Growth Adds Responsibilities.-During the First World War the need for special weather service in aid of aviation was recognized. An item of $100.000 was included in the Army Appropriation Act of 1918 (for transfer to the Weather Bureau) for taking care of the urgent need for information of upper air conditions for military flying in addition to such aerological information as the Bureau had been able to provide theretofore with the meager funds available for the purpose. Thereafter an item was provided in the appropriation for the Weather Bureau for this purpose.

It was not until 1926, however, that recognition was given to the need for additional day-by-day service in aid of and protection for civilian as well as military flying. During that year Congress enacted the "Air Commerce Act of 1926" which was an act to encourage and regulate the use of aircraft in commerce, and for other purposes. This Act and the "Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938," which amended and amplified it, placed greatly increased responsibilities upon the Weather Bureau in carrying on the duties which are summarized in Section 803 thereof:

In order to promote the safety and efficiency of aircraft to the highest possible degree, the Chief of the Weather Bureau, under the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture (Commerce), shall, in addition to any other functions or duties pertaining to weather information for other purposes,

(1) make such observations, measurements, investigations, and studies of atmospheric phenomena, and establish such meteorological offices and stations, as are necessary or best suited for ascertaining, in advance, information concerning probable weather conditions; (2) furnish such reports, forecasts, warnings, and advices to the (Civil Aeronautics) Authority, and to such air carriers and other persons engaged in civil aeronautics as may be designated by the Authority, and to such other persons as the Chief of the Weather Bureau may determine, and such reports shall be made in such manner and with such frequency as will best result in safety in air navigation; (3) cooperate with any person employed by air carriers in meteorological service and (4) detail annually not to exceed ten members of the Weather Bureau personnel for training at Government expense, either at civilian institutions or otherwise, in advanced methods of meteorological science: provided, that no such member shall lose his individual status or seniority rating in the Bureau merely by reason of absence due to such training. (49 U.S.C. 603.)

Weather Bureau transferred to Department of Commerce. -The Weather Bureau was transferred from the Department of Agriculture, where it had been a constituent bureau since July 1, 1891 (Act of October 1, 1890, 26 Stat. 653) to the Department of Commerce on June 30, 1940, under authority of Reorganization Plan No. IV of the President which was submitted to the Congress on April 11, 1940.

In his message submitting Reorganization Plan No. IV, with reference to the Weather Bureau, the President said:

The importance of the Weather Bureau's functions to the Nation's commerce has also led to the decision to transfer this Bureau to the Department of Commerce. The development of the aviation industry has imposed upon the Weather Bureau a major responsibility in the field of air transportation. The transfer to the Department of Commerce, as provided in this plan, will permit better coordination of Government activities relating to aviation and to commerce generally, without in any way lessening the Bureau's contribution to agriculture.

Section 8 of Reorganization Plan No. IV effecting the transfer of the Weather Bureau, reads as follows:

Sec. 8. Transfer of Weather Bureau-The Weather Bureau in the Department of Agriculture and its functions are transferred to the Department of Commerce and shall be administered under the direction and supervision of the Secretary of Commerce: Provided, that the Department of Agriculture may continue to make snow surveys and to conduct research concerning: (a) relationships between weather and crops, (b) long-range weather forecasting, and (c) relationships between weather and soil erosion.

Physical Organization.-The Weather Bureau operates the basic system of meteorological observations for the United States, its territories and contiguous ocean areas; collects and analyzes these observations and prepares current weather maps and bulletins, forecasts, warnings and climatological summaries for the benefit of air transport, agriculture, business, commerce, industry, shipping and other material interests, and for other branches of the Government, including the military and naval services. Figure 1 is a master chart showing the physical organization of the Bureau.

Basic Functions Summarized.-Synoptic observations of weather conditions especially required for forecasting are made four times daily at about 420 airport and city offices. Other observations are made at about 5,500 sub-stations for the benefit of airways, river and flood, crop-weather, fruit-frost, and other miscellaneous services, and at more than 6,000 selected locations by public-spirited citizens who make daily observations without pay primarily for climatological purposes. A large number of observations are also obtained by radio from ships at sea, and on an exchange basis from foreign meteorological services. These latter permit the bureau to compile daily a meteorological map of the entire northern hemisphere in addition to the forecast maps prepared at least four times a day. These observations, which include all surface weather elements and upper air conditions so important for aviation and forecasting, are obtained with radiosondes, radar equipment and through the use of pilot balloons and airplanes in flight.

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