November 1, 1848

“Circular on Meteorology,” by Secretary Joseph Henry and James P. Espy is published. They announce the establishment of a system of meteorological observations, particularly with reference to American storms, and request those interested in signing up as volunteer observers to contact the Navy Department. The Second Annual Report of the Secretary for the year 1848, presented December 13, 1849, includes the plan for a system of meteorological observations. Secretary Henry proposes to use the magnetic telegraph to notify distant observers of approaching storms. The system of telegraphic dispatches of weather conditions will begin the next year. This program leads to the foundation of the National Weather Service.

Posted: 1 November 2010
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Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.