Saturday, November 24, 2007

Does The Weather Fascinate You?

I have always been fascinated by the daily changes in the weather. My interest began in the early 1960’s as a Boy Scout when we attempted to plan camp outs on weekends that would hopefully be rain free. Years later, as a forester, projects such as tree planting, herbicide applications, and controlled burns owed their very success to accurate weather information.

In 1858, the Smithsonian Institution reported that one of its most popular exhibits was the first publicly displayed weather map. Information on temperature, barometric pressure, and wind direction were collected by ordinary citizens at more than 300 locations. These volunteers would send daily observations by telegraph to the Smithsonian and their measurements would be displayed on the large map. Circular colored disks were attached to represent the location of each reporting station. The color of the disk represented the current state of the atmosphere; white signified clear weather; gray, cloudy; black, rain, and so forth.

How the science of weather prediction and long range forecasting have changed. Today, up to the minute weather information is available around the clock from the National Weather Service. Regional offices are located in major cities across the United States and provide nearly endless information on the local, regional, and national weather.

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