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National Weather Service: historical snippets

The National Weather Service was created 1870 by a Joint Congressional Resolution requiring the Secretary of War “to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent, and at other points in the States and Territories…and for giving notice on the northern lakes and on the seacoast, by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms” was introduced.

Congress passed the resolution and on February 9, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law. A new national weather service had been born within the U.S. Army Signal Service’s Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce that would affect the daily lives of most of the citizens of the United States through its forecasts and warnings for years to come.

Interestingly, the National Weather Station ranks in the top 15 percent of federal agencies for customer satisfaction, according to a public survey. With an essential public safety mission, the agency rates 84 on a scale of 100 – a score considered “excellent” by independent survey firm Claes Fornell International (CFI).

During the early and mid-1800’s, weather observation networks began to grow and expand across the United States. Although most basic meteorological instruments had existed for over 100 years, it was the telegraph that was largely responsible for the advancement of operational meteorology during the 19th century. With the advent of the telegraph, weather observations from distant points could be “rapidly” collected, plotted and analyzed at one location.

 

Credit: National Weather Service

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