I caught the tail end of a documentary on the History Channel about Isaac’s Storm, the 1900 Galveston hurricane that killed 6000 people. It was named after the weatherman who predicted it (although, according to the documentary, Isaac Cline embellished his tale of warning the townsfolk, and actually didn’t do as much as he claimed he did.)
So, back as far as 1900, there was a Weather Bureau and it was capable of “predicting” major storms. Obviously, things have come a long way since then. When did hurricane predicting start and how has it progressed over the years?
his brother joseph had more of a feel for what the galveston hurricane would become. joseph wanted to move the entire family to the building the bureau was in. isaac thought the house would stand the storm.
hurricane forecasting is very old if you include the ancient tribes of the atlantic coast. the name comes from the god of wind and rain. sacrifices to him would foretell the storms to come.
once europeans came in contact with hurricanes trying to figure out where they would strike and when was finally written about. unfortunatly most would not listen to those who lived with 'canes the most.
the natives of florida were very good at getting out of the way of hurricanes. they would watch the sky, water, and fauna to know when to get going. getting those who did not live for hundreds of years in florida to listen to them was quite a bit tricker.
there was a priest in cuba who took folk wisdom and knowledge of those who lived there longer than columbus and came up with books that cline and others would read and try to apply. once again the us weather service was not very good at listening to what native cubans would say about hurricane strike potential.
before all the cool gadget we have now, it was mostly sky watching, surf watching, figuring out highs and lows and wind movement. communication between towns helped quite a bit. franklin was the guy who figured out nor’eastrs. intuition helped quite a bit. once the u.s. spread coast to coast and communications got a bit faster, weather systems moving across the u.s. were easier to figure out.
grab a copy of isaac’s storm by erik larson. it goes into the history of the weather service and how the cline boys became weather guys. reading it in hurricane season can be a bit dicey.