July 15, 1643: Weather reporting up until the mid-1700’s was sketchy at best across North America. Colonial leaders who formed the path to independence of our country were avid weather observers. Thomas Jefferson purchased a thermometer from a local Philadelphia merchant while in town for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. He also purchased a barometer — one of the only ones in America at the time — a few days later from the same merchant. Jefferson made regular observations at Monticello from 1772-78, and participated in taking the first known simultaneous weather observations in America. George Washington also took regular observations; the last weather entry in his diary was made the day before he died. During the early and mid-1800's, weather observation networks began to grow and expand across the United States. Although most basic meteorological instruments had existed for over 100 years, it was the telegraph that was largely responsible for the advancement of operational meteorology during the 19th century. With the advent of the telegraph, weather observations from distant points could be "rapidly" collected, plotted and analyzed at one location in real time. In 1870 a Joint Congressional Resolution required the Secretary of War "to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent”. And so, a national weather service had been born within the U.S. Army Signal Service’s Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce. The first systematic weather observations didn't start in colonial America until 1644 in what would become the state of Delaware. Occasional observations of the weather were reported a bit before that and on July 15, 1643, John Winthrop’s from Newberry, MA entered in his in diary; “There arose a sudden gust at NW; so violent for half an hour as it blew down multitudes of trees. It lifted up their meeting house at Newberry, the people being in it, but only killed (one person) with the fall of a tree”. It was one of the first ever reports of weather’s impact in America.
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