standards, Weather Bureau offices of the early 1940s were Spartan. Communications
consisted of two teletype-writers and usually one or two telephones.
Observational instruments were provided for normal surface observations,
and a few locations took upper-air observations. Both the teletype-writer
and upper-air observations were relatively new to Weather Bureau operations
prior to World War II. Both had been implemented in the 1930s and Weather
Bureau employees still were adjusting to the new technology and science.
Considerable research was being conducted into the impact of upper-air
conditions on surface weather pattems, and frontal and air-mass theory
was in the process of being accepted by Weather Bureau forecasters.
The Airways Weather
Service was an important part of Weather Bureau operations as the
number of flights increased rapidly prior and during the war. By 1941,
the impact of aviation weather had increased to such importance that
considerable pressure was mounting to transfer the Weather Bureau
from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Commerce.
Administratively, Weather Bureau operations across the United States
were divided into seven regions with Regional Headquarters in New
York, Atlanta, Fort Worth, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and
Seattle. In addition, a Regional Office was located at Anchorage for
the Territory of Alaska.
It was into this
environment that women began to enter the Weather Bureau in 1942.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed, only two women were working in the observation
and forecast staff of the Bureau. However, as men went to war, the
need increased for women to fill critical positions. In 1942, the
Weather Bureau issued the following announcement:
FOR WOMEN IN
there has been much prejudice against and few precedents for employing
women generally for professional work in meteorology, perhaps a
dozen women have obtained meteorological positions in the last few
years, mostly outside the government service. However, since there
is at present an acute shortage of both trained meteorologists and
men for observers and clerical positions in the Weather Bureau and
other government agencies, airlines, etc., women with the proper
qualifications (same as for men) are now being welcomed in many
places where they were not encouraged even last year. (In England
women have already taken over many meteorological posts, we hear.)
Therefore, women with training or experience in meteorology or its
branches should apply immediately for any of the current or forthcoming
U.S. Civil Service examinations in meteorology which are open to
them... This will be an opportunity to join the vanguard of the
many women who will very likely find careers in meteorology in the
not too distant future and at the same time it will be a patriotic
choice in case the war should require many women to replace or supplement
men as meteorologists.
By 1945, over 900
women were employed by the Weather Bureau, mostly in clerical positions
or as junior observers. Many women were hired as temporary employees
during 1942 to ease the immediate vacancy crunch in the Weather Bureau.
For the most part, these individuals later were changed to permanent
status. Most later hires were permanent.
The influx of
new people required a massive training effort which was accomplished
on station or through correspondence courses. Eventually, formal training
courses were established at Regional Office Headquarters.