Page images
PDF
EPUB

life and no wrecks occurred, nor was much damage done, except on the north coast east of San Juan. The following editorial from the New Orleans Daily Picayune of September 15, 1910, has reference to this storm:

Notwithstanding the threatening weather which prevailed over southern Louisiana Tuesday, no damage was experienced, as the storm passed southward some distance out in the Gulf. However, sugar and rice planters were greatly alarmed. A severe wind storm at this season of the year would lodge the cane and would result in great injury to the rice crop, because few of the rice planters are prepared to flood their rice fields to such an extent as would prevent great damage from high winds. The excellent advices issued from day to day by the United States Weather Bureau in connection with this storm from the date of the inception has been in keeping with its past record. Tuesday morning, long before the storm was being felt at any coast station, shipping, commercial, and agricultural interests along the Gulf coast were advised that the storm was some distance out in the Gulf southeast of the Texas coast, and was moving in a northwesterly direction toward the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Yesterday morning the storm was moving inland, with its center near the mouth of the Rio Grande, and high winds and high tides had occurred along the Texas coast, as though conditions had been made to fit the Weather Bureau's warnings. The value of a service which can foretell where such storms will strike the coast, as was done in this case, can not be estimated.

WEST INDIAN HURRICANE OF OCTOBER, 1910.–Attempts made in former years to get reports by wireless from vessels plying in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea met with small success, owing to the small range of the transmitting vessels. This past year, however, a concerted effort was again made to secure these reports, this time with gratifying results. A number of valuable reports were received from vessels in the region of tropical storms, that from the United Fruit Co.'s steamship Abangarez, latitude 14° 20' N., and longitude 81° 51' W., received on the evening of October 12, being particularly helpful in locating the most notable hurricane of the season, which struck Key West, Fla., on the afternoon of the 17th. Although the pressure had been below normal for several days previously, this wireless report was the first definite information the Weather Bureau had of the severe storm in the Caribbean. In conjunction with the reports from the land stations, it enabled the forecaster to locate the center of the disturbance with a degree of accuracy which could not have been done through the use of observations made at land stations alone. By the morning of the 13th the hurricane center was about 200 miles south-southwest of Havana, Cuba, apparently moving northwestward. The storm passed to the westward of Havana on the afternoon of the 14th and over Key West on the afternoon of the 17th. It then moved in a northerly direction to southern Georgia, where it took a course more to the east, and passed off the Atlantic coast near Cape Hatteras on the 20th. During the progress of this storm timely advices regarding its location, intensity, and probable direction of movement were disseminated by every available means, including wireless, to interests liable to be affected by winds and tides. The following are among the testimonials received as to the value of the service rendered by the bureau in its advance notices of this storm.

From C. W. Jungen, manager of the Atlantic Steamship Lines of the Southern Pacific Co.:

I beg to express to you the appreciation of the management of this company for the valuable service rendered by the Weather Bureau during the tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean on or about the 13th to 19th instant, which overtook several of the company's ships in that vicinity. These bulletins were of great assistance to the masters of our ships in preserving the company's property and preventing the loss of life at sea.

From Senator Duncan U. Fletcher, of Florida: Permit me to say that I have always appreciated the value of the Weather Bureau to the country, and the service rendered before and during the recent hurricane has further emphasized its indispensability to Florida. * *

From J. R. Brown, president of the Florida East Coast Railway, to the official in charge of the local Weather Bureau office at Jacksonville, Fla..

I am pleased to express our appreciation of the excellent service rendered by the Weather Bureau through your office during the past season, and the frequent advisory warnings sent down the line during the approach of the recent hurricane. The information thus furnished, I am advised, enabled us to get practically all our large fleet of floating equipment into hurricane harbors, thus making our loss in this respect comparatively light. We were also enabled to get our scattered forces of about 1,500 men into safe locations, so that there was no loss of life. By use of hurricane flags, rockets, and signal whistles we were enabled to warn the inhabitants of the keys, the fishing fleet in the locality of our work, as also two steamships anchored at Knights Key Harbor. Had we depended on the barometer we would not have been able to secure one-half of our floating plant before the storm was upon us.

From an editorial in the Tampa (Fla.) Morning News of October 20:

That there was no loss of life during the storm is largely due to the efficiency of the Weather Bureau in warning mariners.

From an editorial in the Vicksburg (Miss.) Herald of October 19: There can be no question that a grave calamity has befallen Cuba and the Florida Peninsula as well. The one gratifying circumstance in it is the proof furnished of the infinite value of the Weather Bureau warnings, which gave ample time for all shipping to seek shelter in safe anchorage.

WEEKLY FORECASTS.

Forecasts of a general character for a week in advance, based on the atmospheric conditions exhibited by the daily chart of the Northern Hemisphere, have been issued on each Sunday throughout the year, except during the last two weeks of June, 1911, and special forecasts announcing important weather and temperature changes were made when occasion called for them. These forecasts have in the main proved reasonably successful, and the demand for them on the part of the press and others has steadily increased.

The weekly forecast issued on August 21, 1910, attracted special attention. In this forecast it was announced that a cool wave would pass over the country the latter part of the ensuing week. This cool wave gave the lowest temperatures of record for August in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region and the Plains States, and snow fell in Wyoming. It caused frosts in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and light frosts at exposed places in New England and New York. The following favorable comments on the part of the press, subsequent to the issue of the forecast, indicate the widespread interest taken in its successful fulfillment:

Oklahoma (Okla.) Oklahoman: The day was a great triumph for the weather man. The prophecy was on long time, as weather forecasts go. It was made last Sunday. It was accurate to the hour, and to distance, direction, and temperature; geographically correct-absolutely correct. The Sunday forecast said that the wave would start in the Northwestern States and weep east across the country. For Oklahoma and vicinity Thursday was the day set for the cold spell, and the cold spell came. No one but the doubter was disappointed.

Louisville (Ky.) Courier Journal:

The present remarkably cool weather for this season of the year was accurately forecast by the United States Weather Bureau one week in advance.

Springfield (Mo.) Republican:

The Weather Bureau at Washington predicted last Sunday that a cool wave would strike this vicinity about the middle of the week, didn't it? And it said that the cool wave would be preceded by very hot weather. * * * The long-distance forecasting department of the Washington Weather Bureau scored one of the biggest tallies in its history Thursday morning, when the cold wave came along.

Boston (Mass.) Transcript:

The official forecaster's reputation as a successful long-range forecaster is better than ever in this vicinity. His cool wave for the East, predicted a week ago, arrived last night on scheduled time, and the temperature consequently was "in the dumps" over night. There were no frosts, to be sure, but the drop in temperature was sufficient to justify the “cool wave” forecast.

Charlotte (N. C.) Observer.

The Observer on last Monday morning published a weather prediction issued from Washington, D. C., stating that chilly blasts would sweep across the country during the week. * * * This forecast was read by many, but most people straightway dismissed it from their minds. During the week, however, there followed such a remarkably accurate verification of the prediction made days before the cold started, that the public sat up and took notice. * * * It only affords another striking illustration of the remarkable progress being made in the development of the weather science, and shows also what an excellent and highly valuable service is being given by the Government in this department. * * * The wave advanced true to form and reached the Atlantic by Saturday morning. It pays to listen to the weather man.

INTERNATIONAL WEATHER CHART.

A chart of the Northern Hemisphere is prepared each morning in the forecast map room of the Weather Bureau at Washington, based on reports from a number of stations selected to show, in a general way, the fluctuations of barometric pressure in the great centers of action. The most northerly stations from which reports are received are Nome, Tanana, and Eagle, in Alaska, at about latitude 65° N., while the most southerly is Manila, in the Philippine Archipelago, at approximately latitude 14° N.

Somewhat meager data from five Alaskan stations give a fair indication of barometric changes in that region, but when it is considered that the forecasts for a week in advance are based chiefly on the Alaskan reports, it would appear that a greater number of stations, not so widely separated, should be available to give a more complete survey of the atmospheric changes taking place in that area. Action has been taken looking to the establishment in the near future of a station on the Aleutian Islands at Dutch Harbor. Reports from this station will give valuable information concerning storms that pass from the eastern coast of Asia northeastward and finally reach the United States. At present, storms of this type cross the Pacific Ocean south of latitude 58° N. and strike the North American Continent without warning or indication of their approach. With a station in operation at Dutch Harbor, few, if any, storms should reach the continent without their coming first being indicated by some of the Alaskan reports.

During the latter part of the past year reports were received regularly from Nemuro, Japan, and from Shanghai, China. These reports have proved of much value in accounting for the development of disturbances in our Northwest.

Summarized in a general way, a study of the international weather map furnishes indications of weather conditions in the United States several days in advance, somewhat as follows:

(1) Barometer rising and above normal over the Asiatic high area; barometer falling and below normal in the Bering Sea low area, and rising over the Azores and falling over Iceland, indicates a period of mild weather over the northern and eastern districts of the United States.

(2) Barometer falling and below normal over Bering Sea, and falling over the Azores and rising over Iceland, indicates a period of cool weather generally east of the Rocky Mountains.

(3) When the great continental high-pressure area extends over west-central Europe and the British Isles it checks the movement of North Atlantic storms and finally affects the rate of progression of high and low pressure areas over the United States. The usual rate of progression of high and low pressure areas over the United States is resumed 5 or 6 days after a return to normal conditions has set in over west-central Europe.

(4) In its normal distribution atmospheric pressure is high over the eastern and relatively low over the northern and northwestern portions of Europe. Under these conditions the progression of storms over the United States is normal. When, however, this arrangement of pressure is reversed or disturbed, abnormal storm movements or features will be observed.

(5) At times when the air masses up over western Asia and continental Europe the advance of the Atlantic storms is checked, low pressure prevails for several days over the British Isles, high pressure builds up over the Atlantic Ocean, and the eastward progress of high and low pressure areas over the United States is retarded. This retardation of highs and lows over the United States is not interrupted until about 5 or 6 days after normal pressure conditions are resumed over western Europe.

(6) A slight shifting to the westward of the summer North Atlantic high-pressure area gives temperatures above the normal and generally dry weather over eastern portions of the United States. If the center of this high-pressure area shifts to the westward, south of its usual position as regards latitude, the heat is general from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. If, however, the center occupies a more northerly latitude in its westward position, the heat area is confined to the more northerly districts of the United States, while the South Atlantic districts receive the benefits of the easterly winds from the ocean,

(7) When the Atlantic high-pressure area occupies a position east of its normal location over the Atlantic Ocean, or exhibits pressure below normal, cool weather for the season, or at least variable temperature, is experienced over the eastern portions of the United States.

(8) As a general proposition the North Atlantic high-pressure area controls to a great degree not only the summer weather of the greater part of the United States, but also the course and character of the West Indian hurricanes.

applicable to hisrnish the injury: In thions the cran accurateforecast that hard, rather cual with infe of

FROST PROTECTION WORK. Special attention was given during the year to warnings for the benefit of shippers and growers of perishable products. Forecasts were sent out daily from a number of our larger stations, giving the probable temperatures likely to be encountered by perishable goods shipped in any direction.

Substations were established in the cranberry marshes of Massachusetts, in the citrus fruit districts of Florida, and in some of the orchard districts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and California. During the frost season special reports are sent from these substations to the forecast center, where they are used in the preparation of a special forecast in the afternoon or early evening, supplementing the regular morning forecast. By this means the growers are enabled to take such precautionary measures as are available to protect their crops. In Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Florida, and California the fruit growers smudge and fire when necessary, while in the cranberry regions the cranberry growers flood their bogs to prevent injury. In this line of work it has been the policy to furnish the individual with information particularly applicable to his orchard, rather than to have him depend upon a general forecast that would apply to a large section, but could not accurately cover the section in detail. Effort has also been made to encourage the growers to organize and employ protective measures in saving their crops from frosts and freezes. Thus far the work has been successful beyond expectation. One example of the fruits of this work is instanced by a letter from Mr. Thomas F. Mahoney, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Junction, which was published in the Denver News of May 18, 1911. In this letter it is claimed that the prompt action taken by the orchardists of Colorado's western slope on the receipt of the warnings of a severe freeze last spring resulted in the saying of $2,500,000.

The following is from a letter written by the secretary of the Yakima Commercial Club, North Yakima, Wash., regarding the work of the past year in that section:

The timely warnings of danger given did much in the way of prevention of loss from frost, and it is the general belief that with better preparations on the part of the fruit growers another season, still greater benefits may be derived from the frost service of the bureau.

The president of the Provo Commercial Club, Provo, Utah, also testifies to the work of the bureau in that vicinity during the frost season of 1911, as follows:

Now that the frost period for this season is over and while the matter is still fresh in our minds, we wish to express to you our appreciation of your efforts in our behalf. There is no doubt but what your Weather Bureau has been of service to the fruit grower this season, and taken together with the keen personal interest you yourself have shown in the all-important question of "Saving the fruit,” we are convinced that with the further aid of the Agricultural Department this question will be solved.

RIVER AND FLOOD DIVISION.

RIVER AND FLOOD SERVICE. Two new river districts were created during the year, with headquarters at Indianapolis, Ind., and Iola, Kans., making a total of 56 river districts in operation at the end of the year. The new districts were established for the purpose of securing increased efficiency

« PreviousContinue »