NOAA History Banner
gold bar divider
home - takes you to index page
about the site
noaa - takes you to the noaa home page
search this site
white divider
arrow A Nation at War
arrow WWII
arrow Technology Tales

the weather bureau record of war administration part 10

Page: left arrow 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 click for next page

Joint Weather Control.--In 1940, the Army Air Forces and Navy each established weather centrals in Washington, D. C., to provide meteorological service required for their operations. These weather centrals were later moved to the U. S. Weather Bureau, Washington, D. C. , after consideration of three important questions by the Defense Meteorological Committee. First, there was a shortage of trained and experienced meteorological personnel, both civilian and military, secondly, the move would affect better coordination of meteorological services and facilities between the Weather Bureau, Army Air Forces, and Navy, and lastly, it would eliminate a considerable amount of duplication in the preparation of charts required for forecast purposes by the three organizations.

In 1942, as a result of recommendations by the Joint Meteorological Committee, the Weather Bureau set up a central weather analysis section in Washington which occupied quarters adjacent to the Army and Navy Weather Centrals. Establishment of the U. S. Weather Bureau Analysis Center permitted the rapid plotting of a voluminous amount of data required for making synoptic weather analyses of surface and upper-air charts required for forecast purposes. Analyses based on these charts were then coded and distributed by Civil Aeronautics Administration teletype systems to Weather Bureau filed offices and also those of the Army and Navy throughout the United States. Entry of the analyses on weather maps at filed offices reduced considerably the large amount of weather data to be plotted which was essential to render local service in the past.

The work of the three weather centrals increased considerable and owing to lack of adequate quarters, the Army Air Forces Weather Central was forced to move to the Pentagon Building in 1943. Repeated efforts to obtain space near the Wether Bureau on which to construct quarters to house the three weather centrals were made without success. The moving of the Army Weather Central increased the amount of duplication in plotting and preparing weather charts, but the continuation of close coordination and liaison between the three weather centrals kept the amount of duplication to a minimum.

Security of Weather Information.-To maintain the continuous flow of weather reports from the greater portion of the Northern Hemisphere and parts of the Southern, the Weather Bureau was faced with the problem of enciphering and deciphering on the average of 150,000 words daily consisting mainly of weather reports. Such reports formed the basis for rendering weather service to the Army, Navy, and also domestic industries engaged in war production.

Early in 1940, the Weather Bureau effected arrangements to obtain reports from Canada, England, and other belligerent nations in cipher. Owning to the spread of Nazi warfare on the high seas against ships of neutral registry in 1941, it was necessary to also include in cipher weather reports received from outlying stations of North America and ships of Untied States registry while at sea. It was due largely to these security measures that the Weather Bureau was enabled to begin the enciphering of all weather bulletins broadcast by Navy and Civil Aeronautics Administration radio stations in the United States by the evening of December 7th. Personnel to do this work were detailed from other Weather Bureau activities to meet this emergency until employees could be recruited, investigated, and trained in cryptographic and communications work.

Cryptographic and communications units were established at Washington, D. C., New York, N.Y., New Orleans, La., San Francisco, calif., Seattle, Wash., Anchorage, Alaska and Honolulu, T. H., each of which functioned 24 hours daily on 3 shifts of 8 hours. To insure the secrecy of this work at all times, guards were stationed at the entrance to the units. Admission of persons other than those actually employed in the unit, including Weather Bureau personnel, were permitted only after they had been cleared by the security officer and the unit supervisor informed of their intended visit.

If the need arises to resume the enciphering of weather reports in the future, it is believed that cryptographic machines which were developed and used during the latter part of the war will be available, thus eliminating the recruitment of a large number of employees to encipher weather reports before transmission.

Shortly after the Office of Censorship was established early in 1942, that office issued censorship codes for the guidance of press and radio which included restrictions on news releases relating to weather information. Since the Weather Bureau, through the U. S. Joint Meteorological Committee, had already placed into effect restrictions on the release of weather information from its offices in the previous December, the effectiveness of these restrictions which was also coordinated with the Office of Censorship, was immediate.

Liaison between the Office of Censorship and the Weather Bureau was established and all news items and articles relating to the weather which were submitted to the Office of Censorship for clearance, were referred to the Weather Bureau for review before publication. Much of the liaison work between the Weather Bureau and Office of Censorship was conducted by telephone since clearance for publication of numerous news releases submitted by press associations could be determined after the main subject matter had been discussed informally.

To provide pilots of companies engaged in war production with weather information they were issued letters of authority which, when presented at Weather Bureau airport stations, permitted them to obtain flight forecasts before take-off. Necessarily these letters of authority were only issued after the companies and pilots requesting them had been thoroughly investigated.

In addition, there were restrictions on practically all weather information collected and issued by the Weather Bureau during wartime. These restrictions are described fully in documents contained in the official files of the Bureau.

Plans Prepared for Military Uses of Meteorology.-There are two phases of the meteorological problem in time of war. First, the basic weather service that must be maintained in support of activities on the home front and second, meteorological service which is a necessary part of the operations of the armed forces. These two are quite different in several respects. Weather service on the home front is continued, expanded, and intensified as may be necessary as an aid to agriculture, industry, transportation, war production, and all other activities bearing directly or indirectly on the war effort. The nature of this service is not subject to radical changes during the progress of the war. It is based on years of experience in furnishing weather service for a familiar region and activity. The weather service required for military and naval operations is subject to radical changes from time to time, depending on the nature of warfare and the development of weapons as the war proceeds.

The ability of a country to keep pace with the weather requirements of war depends on the efficiency of the weather service which is maintained in time of peace. While military service maintains a meteorological unit in time of peace, which serves as a nucleus for expansion in time of war, it is neither economical nor advisable to attempt to maintain full scale meteorological organizations within the armed services during time of peace. They would be organized on the basis of experience in past wars. The trend of development in a new war would make the systems obsolete, and it would be necessary to reorganize anyway. It has been decided that the most effective plan is to maintain military meteorological units sufficient to keep abreast of technical developments in warfare as related to meteorology, and then depend on the national meteorological service and the meteorological training facilities of the country to assist in expansion to meet the specialized needs of a new war.


- Top of Page -

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

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer