What Were These Things Called?

Our understanding of weather is more modern than you think!

What Were These Things Called?

Did you know that the term “clouds” only came into common use in the 1800’s when it was coined by an Englishman named Luke Howard? What were they called before then? The fact is that while today we take for granted how we get the weather in our area directly on our phones, the way that we understand how our weather works is a result of numerous inventors working off of inventions that span thousands of years.

Each iteration of these inventions has brought us closer to being able to pinpoint when and where a thunderstorm will occur, the magnitude of a tornado or hurricane, and how much rain will fall in flood conditions. These inventions have a powerful effect on human nature and the ability to predict the weather can save lives.

Our Modern Understanding of Weather

Just to get a grasp on how recent most of our modern understanding of weather is, take a look at some of these inventions that have changed the world:

  • 1724: The first mercury thermometer was invented.
  • 1835: The telegraph made it possible to relay weather events from distant locations simultaneously and to predict their path.
  • 1890: The U.S. Weather Bureau was first established.
  • 1950’s: Computer models were able to produce reliable numerical weather predictions
  • 1986: The Wicom is invented to measure wind and weather.

In fact, the Weather Bureau was responsible for inventing many different mechanical devices aimed at being able to predict the weather. From measuring rainfall and wind speed to perfecting pole star recordings, these predictions have far reaching implications for the way our society functions.

Why Weather Prediction is So Important

It is obvious when you are planning a June wedding why weather prediction is so important. But those predictions have much larger and broader applications. Before the U.S. Weather Bureau became a standalone civilian service, it was first part of the War Department.

In 1870, Congress passed a law making telegraphic weather alerts part of military installations throughout the country to predict and warn citizens of impending weather danger. Now, nearly every state has a weather alert system that tells you when severe weather is coming and when to take shelter.

Even the Farmer’s Almanac has used advances in weather prediction to aid farmers in determining how the weather is going to affect their crops. Knowing when a tropical storm in Puerto Rico is going to turn into a full blown hurricane and what path is just one of the many ways that weather prediction saves lives. How accurate those predictions are continues to be something that is ever-evolving and leading to new inventions.

The Future of Weather Prediction

Weather prediction and meteorological calculations continue to play a major role in the way that we live. New ways to predict those patterns will come from today’s weather inventors who we all count on to keep making us safer with more and more accurate calculations.

Consider the changing climate and increasingly extreme weather patterns today. Who will be the next inventor of a device can make these erratic weather patterns more predictable? There is a great need for people toiling in the weather business to come up with more predictive models that rival the inventions of the last hundred years.

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