Library Fact Sheets
AIR FORCE WEATHER HISTORY|
Printable Fact Sheet
Air Force Weather traces its heritage to two centuries of American military weather service. U.S. Army surgeons began recording weather observations regularly in the early 1800s as part of the Army's medical studies. In 1870, Congress directed the Secretary of War to establish a weather service for the nation. Thus, the Army's first organized military weather service was established in the U.S. Army Signal Corps; however, this service waned after Congress authorized the creation of the U.S. Weather Bureau, today's National Weather Service, in 1890.
America's entry into World War I highlighted once again the need for an organized military weather service. Today's Air Force Weather directly traces its history to the re-emergence of a meteorological section within the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1917. By the mid-1930s, the Army Air Corps was consuming the majority of the weather data the Signal Corps produced. On July 1, 1937, the Army Air Corps Weather Service, under the leadership of the Chief of the Weather Section in the Office of the Chief of the Army Air Corps, assumed responsibility for all Army weather services from the Signal Corps.
The Army Air Forces Weather Service grew to global proportions during World War II. Following the establishment of an independent U.S. Air Force in 1947, Air Force Weather, organized as the Air Weather Service from 1947 to 1991, continued to provide environmental awareness for both the Air Force and the Army. By 1991, Air Weather Service had divested itself of its major field structure and the bulk of Air Force Weather was realigned under the direct administration of the supported commands.
In April 1991, the Office of the Director of Weather was created on the Air Staff to provide policy and guidance for Air Force Weather. During the later half of the 1990s and continuing into the 21st century, Air Force Weather has re-engineered itself to better meet the demands of modern military operations.
Air Force Weather continues to cultivate its rich heritage as it integrates new technologies and processes into operational procedures for the 21st century.
Some solar monitoring is done in space. The Air Force Weather is the primary user of a constellation of satellites know as the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. The DMSP carries sensors vital to numerical weather prediction and space weather forecasting. Air Force Weather uses the visible, infrared and microwave imagery sent from DMSP to enhance information to the war fighter.
Air Force Weather works in partnership with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continually improve the developing science.
Providing worldwide coverage, Air Force Weather produces timely, accurate and continuous weather information to engage any target, in any battle space around the world and in space.
From supporting shuttle launches to enabling an unmanned aerial vehicle safe passage, from the protection of government assets to the safety of life and limb, Air Force Weather is meeting the challenges of an ever-changing environment.
From the mud to the sun, Air Force Weather is fully engaged in advancing our nations war-fighting capabilities.
During World War II, the Army Air Forces Weather Service girdled the globe with weather stations. The thousands of newly trained weather personnel fine honed the art and science of military weather services. They armed World War II commanders with vital decision-making tools. Many of the war's critical operations were predicated upon weather forecasting.
From that point forward, Air Force Weather has become a fundamental component of U.S. military missions. Supporting, at times, the actions of all the U.S. Armed Services, Air Force weather personnel were among the first to be deployed to the combat zones of Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and the many other military contingencies.
Air Force Weather has been essentially instrumental in the protection of life and property at home as well. Since World War II, Air Force Weather personnel have provided hurricane reconnaissance. In 1948 two Air Force weather officers issued the first tornado warning. Air Force Weather participated in the development of the nation's severe storm forecasting centers.
With its early adoption of emerging computing and communications technologies, Air Force Weather was at the fore of the Space Age. In the 1960s Air Force Weather began assimilating weather data collected from meteorological satellites. At the same time, Air Force Weather, as the single agent for all of the Department of Defense, began solar observations and forecasting.
Air Force Weather endorsed the Information Revolution early in the 1980s with tools that provided state-of-the art computing at the lowest echelons to gather, process, and disseminate weather data. In concert with Air Force communicators, Air Force Weather constructed communications networks that enabled weather information to be disseminated around the world in moments. Today, Air Force Weather employs the Internet to rapidly disseminate weather data around the globe.
Working with the other national agencies, Air Force Weather has been instrumental in the development of modern meteorological technologies, such as the deployment of NEXRAD, the Next Generation Radar, in the 1990s. Air Force Weather continues to refine and develop forecasting models relevant for modern military operations.
Based upon the solid foundation of more than 65 years of continuous service, Air Force Weather is meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
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