• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of February 2, 1996

Facts about the National Weather Service.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Groundhog day, and a young person's fancy turns to thoughts of ... the weather. The Punxatawney rodent's place in the weather business is part of an ancient and honorable American fascination. The first recorded weather observations in North America were taken in 1644, near what is now Wilmington, Delaware. Many of the founding fathers were weather buffs as well. Benjamin Franklin discovered that winds circulate around storms and began to track and predict them. Thomas Jefferson unsuccessfully pushed for the establishment of a national corps of weather observers. Although various government entities did keep weather records following Jefferson's efforts, it wasn't until 1870, 126 years ago this week, that President Grant ordered the Army to create a weather service. The National Weather Service has since migrated from the Army to the Agriculture Department to its current home at the Commerce Department. And, despite technological advances that include satellites and computers, the Weather Service still relies on more than 10,000 volunteers around the nation to measure rainfall, temperature, wind, and river levels. It seems Jefferson had the right idea all along.

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.