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
, and England
; but Prof. Cleveland Abbe
, meteorologist, of Cincinnati
, originated the present system of weather forecasts.
began the publication of the
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
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