Back in 1870 on this date, a Milwaukee scientist named Increase Lapham of the signal service (the original version of the weather service) issued the very first storm warning. It wasn't overly specific but it was a start. In it he related, "high winds all day yesterday at Cheyenne and Omaha; a very high wind this morning at Omaha; a barometer falling and thermometer rising at Chicago, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Rochester; high winds probable along the Lakes."
Needless to say warnings are an obsession today, especially with thunderstorms where they are given out like candy. I think its gotten a bit out of hand personally but in general the process works and has saved countless lives.
By the way, old Mr. Lapham was a self taught naturalist and scientist. In 1850 he urged the "establishment of an observatory where forecasts could be collected a the lake ports" to help save lives on the Great Lakes.
In 1860 and 1861, Lapham worked with an Iowa boy from Dubuque, Dr. Asa Horr to make a series of simultaneous observations three times a day to prove that storms could be tracked from west to east. The diagrams of these generated strong public interest in the ability to predict storms. The rest is history!
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