History of the NWS & the SPC

I have been studying the history of the collection of weather data, which in the old days of the 18th and 19th centuries were iffy at best compared to the technology we have today.  I know some of these posts are long reads, however I think it is important to have an idea of how things were done in the ‘old days’.

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.

In 1859 the Smithsonian Institution supplied weather instruments to telegraph companies and established extensive observation network. Observations were submitted by telegraph to the Smithsonian, where weather maps are created.

By the end of 1849, 150 volunteers throughout the United States were reporting weather observations to the Smithsonian regularly. By 1860, 500 stations were furnishing daily telegraphic weather reports to the Washington Evening Star, and as the network grew, other existing systems were gradually absorbed, including several state weather services.

During the Civil War this system was disrupted.  In 1870 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.

A Weather Bureau office began operating in Oklahoma City at the Overholser Opera House on November 1, 1890. This opera house was located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Robinson and Grand. Eventually, Grand became known as Sheridan Avenue, and the Overholser Opera House became known as the Orpheum Theater, long after the Weather Bureau had moved. This theater was eventually demolished in 1964, and now the Cox Convention Center is situated in that location.

Pictures from the Overholser Opera House. From left to right: The Overholser Opera House building,
instruments on top of the roof, and the instruments from a different angle.

After the Overholser Opera House, the Weather Bureau office in Oklahoma City moved to the Culbertson Building, which was located on the southeast corner of Broadway and Grand in Oklahoma City, just down the street from the old office. The new office began officially operating there on July 1, 1902. The Weather Bureau office only lasted in the Culbertson Building until January 16, 1906. The reason for the move was a brand new Weather Bureau Observatory, built at 1923 Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City. This weather observatory was one of a special new class of 47 observatories being built across the United States.

From left to right: The Culbertson Building, the Department of Agriculture building at 1923 Classen,
and a Google Map of the early locations of the Weather Bureau Offices
.

Back in the days of the Weather Bureau Observatory, it served as both an observatory, and a residence for the Section Chief. This is evident in the picture below, which shows a clothesline hanging from the temperature shelter to the building on the south lawn. The office on Classen Boulevard was north of downtown Oklahoma City, in a fairly residential area. The building still exists to this day.


A picture from April 1934 courtesy of NOAA and the Oklahoma Climate Survey of the Weather Bureau Observatory in OKC.

In 1932, a Weather Bureau office opened up at Will Rogers Airport on the southwest side of Oklahoma City. This office officially opened on April 2, 1932 and began the gradual transition away from the Weather Bureau Observatory on Classen Boulevard. The new office was located in the Administration Building at Will Rogers Field. Initially observations remained at the Weather Bureau Observatory, but by 1951 the number of observations taken there were substantially reduced. Below are a series of pictures from the Administration Building at Will Rogers Airport.

From left to right: The Administration building at Will Rogers Airport, the building from another angle,
and a later picture after a control tower had been added to the terminal building.

From left to right: The office in the Administration Building, another angle of the office,
and an optical theodolite on the roof of the building.

The office was located at Will Rogers Airport in some fashion until January 26, 1987. A new Weather Bureau Building was built at the airport to just house the Weather Bureau Office. The Weather Bureau office relocated there on October 22, 1965. By 1967, the U.S. Weather Bureau had been renamed the National Weather Service. Below is a picture of this new building that was constructed at the airport.


The National Weather Service office located at Will Rogers Airport from 1965 to 1987.

On January 27, 1987, the National Weather Service office in Oklahoma City relocated to Norman, Oklahoma. It was located at Max Westheimer Airport in a building built specifically for the NWS office. By 1997, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC, previously named the Severe Local Storm Warning Center and located in Kansas City) had moved to Norman and was co-located with the National Weather Service office there. The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) was also in the building. This building at Max Westheimer, and also located on what is sometimes referred to as the “north campus of the University of Oklahoma”, is pictured below along with other pictures of the office.

From left to right: The NOAA Weather Center at night, the “PUP” – Principal User Processor,
and forecasters working at computer workstations. The last two pictures were taken circa September 1990.

From left to right: The operations area of the forecast office, an upper air balloon release,
and a daytime picture of the NOAA Weather Center.

On August 7, 2006, the National Weather Service Forecast Office began the move to a new building on the University of Oklahoma’s South Research Campus in Norman, Oklahoma. The office began operations in the new building on August 10, 2006. The “National Weather Center” is located along Highway 9 on the south side of Norman. The Storm Prediction Center and National Severe Storms Laboratory also moved to the new National Weather Center that summer.

If you would like to read a more detailed history you can find it here.


After a fairly nice day yesterday to conclude the long holiday weekend we now move into a cloudy wet period which will last through most of the rest of the week.  Temps will be cooler than normal through most of the next couple weeks.  I haven’t put in the air conditioners yet – last year at this time they were running almost non stop when we had temps in the upper 80s and low 90s.


Seven Day Forecast

GRAND RAPIDS WEATHER


KALAMAZOO WEATHER


LANSING WEATHER


Pollen Forecast


 

349 total views, 1 views today

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INDY
INDY

Fox 17 extend forcast low 70’s as far as the eyes can see not hot weather coming in the next week or so..INDY!.

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Which would be exactly average for this time of year. How is this big news?

INDY
INDY

62* degrees out at thee YARDofBRICKS NE GR my wife just said it feels like Fall outside not the start of summer …I said good call baby INDY!!

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Feels like an April day once again. Were almost into June .. Whats up mother nature..

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Yes well below normal temps and cloudy all day! Just another typical cool Spring day in MI! Incredible!

INDY
INDY

I agree Jeff..INDY!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Well this is interesting. Opened our May heating/gas bill, and it is less than last year. The way 2 personalities on here carry on about how bitterly cold it is, how can this be??

http://tinypic.com/usermedia.php?uo=jJm7XUcEEIz5KRq60rZu8Yh4l5k2TGxc#.XO2LYLIpChA

Slim

Barry you might want to check the service start and end dates for your “month” of use. Mine starte around mid month and end mid month and while it is “paid” in May you are looking back into mid April to mid May. That time frame this year was warmer then back in 2018. See how “June’s” bill plays out,
Slim

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

What? More facts and logic? Barry and mookie have a hard time with that!

INDY
INDY

I tuned my heat off May 14th on my birthday 7 months in a row is enough..INDY!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Facts? Sorry but a pic of the bill is as cold and hard of a fact you can get.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Rest assured we’ve already experienced our “heat” for 2019. Winter has not “moved-on”…hence the continued forecasting of cold, with nothing but more cold to come. Let’s try to get our heads around our upcoming “winter season”…you know, the winter that did’nt have a summer before it…catastrophic at best.

*SS*
*SS*

I know Memorial Day was yesterday… but you have to watch and listen to one the GREATEST renditions of our National Anthem……

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/lifestyle-buzz/goosebumps-and-tears-a-96-year-old-wwii-veterans-harmonica-rendition-of-the-national-anthem-made-him-a-viral-star/ar-AAC1Mke?ocid=se

Mark(East Lansing)
Mark(East Lansing)

Brought tears to the eyes of this vet. Thank you for sharing.

*SS
*SS

You are welcome!!!! Thanks for your service!!!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Fact – 5 straight months of below normal temps! What stretch and what an amazing pattern! Incredible!

Slim

yes it will be 5 months of below average temperatures and it is also getting on the wet side. I would look for a warmer then average temperature month some time in the near future but we shall see
Slim

Slim

I will jump in on this 80° debate. As of today here is the break down of 80° days at several official locations around the area. Grand Rapids 0 (the warmest so far is just 78) Holland 1 day (80 on May 28th) Lansing 1 day 81 on May 25th Kalamazoo 2 days (82 on May 18th and 81 on May 25th ) Muskegon 3 days (80 April 22nd 81 May 22nd and 80 May 18th) Grand Haven 0 days, Freemont 0 days Big Rapids 0 days. Other areas around Michigan Saginaw 0, Flint 1, Detroit 2, Alpena 1, Houghton… Read more »

Mookie
Mookie

80 is just some arbitrary number. Once we hit 80, then the conversation will be on 90 degrees. Same thing, different year Zzzzzzz

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Facts! GR is the main reporting station in our area and still no 80’s and 5 straight months of below normal temps, yet certain warm weather fanatics still will not face reality! Incredible!

Mookie
Mookie

And yet the last two weeks have been well above average. I love it! Upper 70’s are fine with me.

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

Just saw some damage pics from Dayton. Those poor people.

Slim

Yes a lot of damage down that way
Slim

INDY
INDY

Still no sighn of 80’s and starting to forget what 90’s feel like but that’s ok with INDY! 3 months it will be September all ready crazzy..INDY!!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

We’ve hit 80 three or four times already. As MV posted the other day, every major reporting station in the area but GR has already hit 80. I would guess they need to recalibrate their thermometer.

INDY
INDY

In weather books you like as of now no 80’s in Grand Rapids Michigan…INDY!

Slim

So far Holland has had one official 80° day and that was 80 on May 18, see above for a more complete break down
Slim

INDY
INDY

Thanks Slim …INDY!

Slim

There is a good reason as to why the heat has been on but the air off so far this year. At this time Grand Rapids has only had 6 cooling degree days (CDD) this month that is already-23 and for the year GR has only had 6 that is -31. Now for Heating Degree Days (HDD) GR is at 237 (+19) for May and is now at 6662 for the year that is +239 so yes in our area we use the heat much more then the Air. And we have not had a lot of don’t have to… Read more »

Slim

Grand Rapids is now at 5.35″ of rain for May so it has been on the wet side. We have not had to run the air yet this year. (I did turn it on just to make sure it will work ok) In fact we have not had to open the windows all that much yet this year either. Had them open to let in some fresh air but that is is. It is now cloudy and 63 here at my house.
Slim

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

I have used the a/c more than the furnace this month. It has not been that cold to us, but the a/c helps with the humidity.

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

I agree. It hasn’t been overly “hot”, but the humidity just drains the energy out of you. And we sleep a whole lot better in cool, dry air than we do with thick air.

Slim

Nice post MV
Slim

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Mild, wet, and humid morning again today. We’ve had our air on for a while now just to get the humidity out of the house. Not good sleeping when everything is stuck to your skin. Hope we are not in for another super humid Summer again this year, but as wet as it’s been, it’s starting to look that way. A lot of fields around us are still not planted because it is just to wet or they’re half under water.

INDY
INDY

Lol…INDY!!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Now you’re laughing at the farmers? Wow. I’d love to see you do that to their face.

INDY
INDY

Wrong again I’m laughing at your hot humid summer we are having when temps been only in the 70’s!! Carry on!!! INDY!!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Well you’re all by yourself then because Summer hasn’t even started yet.

Mookie
Mookie

10 out of the last 13 days have been warmer than average. It’s been nice.

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

If you like below normal temps, clouds and showers you will be loving this weeks weather! We are entrenched in a cool pattern with no change in sight!