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Weather Bureau.

The United States weather bureau, from its organization in 1870 until June 30, 1891, when it was transferred to the Department of Agriculture, was a division of the United States signal service under the War Department. It was organized by Chief Signal Officer Brig.-Gen. Albert J. Myer, under act of Congress, Feb. 9, 1870, the first legislation of the United States for a national weather service. Meteorological reports had been collected and maps sent out daily by Professor Henry at the Smithsonian Institution in 1854, and European governments had issued storm warnings in Holland, France, and England; but Prof. Cleveland Abbe, meteorologist, of Cincinnati, originated the present system of weather forecasts. Professor Abbe began the publication of the [253] Weather bulletin of the Cincinnati Observatory, for the benefit of the Cincinnati chamber of commerce, Sept. 1, 1869. His success led Professor Lapham, of Milwaukee, to cause memorials for a national system, to be endorsed by all chambers of commerce and boards of trade, and presented to Congress with a bill by Gen. H. E. Paine, resulting in the act of 1870. The great value of the service lies in simultaneous weather observations throughout the United States, transmitted twice daily by telegraph to Washington, from which are made synoptic weather maps and press reports telegraphed to all points. Cautionary storm-signals are displayed for the shipping at all seaport and lake stations, and special flood reports at river stations. For the benefit of agriculture, special farmers' bulletins are issued from the Washington office at 1 A. M., and distributed by the “railway weather bulletin service,” so that, in the remotest sections, the farmer may know at an early hour the “probabilities” for the day. The title “Old probabilities,” familiarly applied to the head of the weather bureau, was first given in 1869 to Professor Abbe, chosen in 1870 by General Myer to prepare “probabilities,” or storm-warnings.


First weather bulletins of simultaneous observations issued and telegraphed to more than twenty cities......Nov. 4, 1870

First storm-warning bulletins along the lakes issued about......Nov. 10-15, 1870

Systematic tri-daily weather predictions begun......Feb. 12, 1871

Display of cautionary signals on the sea-coasts and lakes begun......Oct. 24, 1871

Signal service changed to extend its researches in the interest of agriculture, by act approved......June 10, 1872

Signal-service stations established at light-house and life-saving stations on the lakes and sea-coast, by act of......March 3, 1873

Monthly weather review first published......1873

System of international co-operative simultaneous weather observation, proposed by General Myer at the congress of meteorologists convened at Vienna, is begun......September, 1873

All Smithsonian weather observers transferred to the signal service at the instance of Prof. Joseph Henry......Feb. 2, 1874

Meteorological reports of army post surgeons ordered by the surgeon-general to be sent to the chief signal office......June 19, 1874

Daily publication of Bulletin of international simultaneous meteorological observations of the Northern Hemisphere begun at Washington......Jan. 1, 1875

Publication of graphic synoptic International weather maps of simultaneous observations begun by General Myer......July 1, 1878

Brig.-Gen. W. B. Hazen appointed chief signal officer......Dec. 6, 1880

Gen. A. W. Greely appointed chief signal officer......March 3, 1887

Weather bureau transferred to the Department of Agriculture, and Prof. Mark W. Harrington appointed chief......June 30, 1891

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