Quakefinder Blog

QuakeFinder 1st Quarter 2017 Newsletter – History of Tornado Forecasting, Part 2

History of Tornado Forecasting, Part 2.

This newsletter is a continuation of our series of studies into the history of weather and natural disaster forecasting. The intent of these studies is to understand the pioneering efforts of those who brought us these capabilities, the often-messy process of discovery, the societal reaction and impacts of forecasting, the resistance of establishment naysayers, and all the setbacks and triumphs along the way. QuakeFinder seeks to enable an earthquake forecasting system and gathering these lessons-learned from history will help guide us on our quest. The following article is a look into tornado forecasting from World War II to the present day.

In Part 1 of this study, we discussed the history of tornado forecasting from its infancy in the late 1860s through the end of the 19th century. The understanding of weather and weather patterns in the U.S. was advancing, as was a volunteer network of observation stations to collect atmospheric data. The growing telegraph network was used to transmit the data to centralized locations for analysis and dissemination of weather “probabilities”. The federal government then established a branch under the Army Signals Corp to augment the observation network and begin providing weather reports and forecasts. Tornado forecasting soon followed in the mid-west with decent success, but was quickly terminated due to turf battles between the military and civilian weather agencies. By the close of the 1800s, the official charter for weather forecasting was in civilian control (Dept. of Agriculture) and a ban on tornado forecasting was instituted for the next half century. Tornado research ceased as well.

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