The Myth of Cleveland Abbe: A Review of a Manufactured History of the Creation of the National Weather Service

Romano, Gregory F. ; Uccellini, Louis W. ; Stremikis, John R.

Année de publication
<p align=justify>For more than a century, Cleveland Abbe was placed on a pedestal as meteorology's solitary leader. Lauded by power brokers within the developing U.S. meteorological community, directors of the Weather Bureau (predecessor to today's National Weather Service), and the American Meteorological Society, he was cited by many as the father of what is now the NWS, its first director, and issuer of its first forecast. However, a historiographical review of the literature that established the Abbe legend presented here shows the image held of Abbe today was actively manufactured; written, and supported by Abbe himself, his family, the Weather Bureau, and others within the AMS. We show that Abbe's role in the creation of the nation's first federal weather service was elevated while the contributions of others were actively downplayed. The latter applies particularly to Increase Lapham, who worked for two decades to demonstrate how a 24-h forecast of events could be generated from the collection and analysis of surface data, and whose active solicitation of Congressman Halbert Paine ultimately led to the creation of the first national weather service within the U.S. Army Signal Service on 9 February 1870. This paper is provided to shed a clearer light on those who contributed to the creation of what is now called the National Weather Service, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, and offer insights into how the Abbe myth was sustained as the AMS celebrated its anniversaries at 25-yr intervals over its 100-yr history.</p>

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