Did you know that Cleveland Abbe was born today in 1838? He was a meteorologist. Initially he worked as an astronomer, but his interests turned to meteorology – the science of weather and the atmosphere. He realized that atmospheric and weather conditions affected the work of astronomers, and that having a forecast of weather conditions would help astronomers and many others. He designed a system to collect and report weather data to meteorologists, who could then generate weather forecasts (a prediction) about cloud cover, precipitation, temperature, wind direction, and barometric pressure. Cleveland Abbe is called the “father of the National Weather Service”, which still provides weather forecasts and warnings for hazardous weather today.
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Initially he studied astronomy at university and worked at several observatories around the United States and world. Around 1868, his interests turned to meteorology – the science of weather and the atmosphere.
Cleveland Abbe’s first official weather report was delivered on February 19, 1871.
Initially Cleveland Abbe worked with 20 volunteers that would gather weather data for his team. Western Union agreed to transmit the weather data without charge. Cleveland Abbe created a code to represent weather conditions to minimize word count. These weather data were then recorded by hand on to maps, which were used to predict weather. Cleveland Abbe also insisted on verifying the weather forecasts they had made to refine their future predictions.
You can still volunteer to collect weather data to help scientists. Click here for more information about GLOBE Observer.
Cleveland Abbe ensured that the Weather Bureau stayed at the forefront of technology. He acquired the best equipment to collect weather data and later designed, calibrated, and built their own devices. Under Cleveland Abbe’s leadership, the United States eventually led the world with their ‘self -registering‘ or self-recording observation stations. Anticipating international cooperation, he worked with weather agencies around the world to use international standards.
To standardize weather data, Cleveland Abbe needed a time-keeping system that was consistent. He divided the United States into 4 time-zones and convinced the railroad companies to adopt that system. Later he worked to also create a global time system as well.
One of Cleveland Abbe’s nicknames was “Old Probability”, because of the reliability of his weather forecasts.
Cleveland Abbe wrote more than 300 scientific papers.
Cleveland Abbe founded the Monthly Weather Review in 1872. He helped to edit the journal until shortly before his death in 1915. In 1891, responsibility for the journal was transferred to the Weather Bureau in the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1970, the Weather Bureau was transferred to the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA published the journal until 1973, when it was transferred to the American Meteorological Society.
Cleveland Abbe tried to enlist as in the Union Army during the Civil War, but was not accepted because of his nearsightedness.
Cleveland Abbe received many awards, honorary degrees, and nominations to scientific societies.
Cleveland Abbe was one of the 33 founders of the National Geographic Society.