Skip to main content

Weather Forecast

March 2023
1min read

The articles in your special section “The Life and Times of U.S. Weather” by David M. Ludlum and William B. Meyer in the June/July issue brought back an experience I had regarding the science of weather forecasting as it was known in the early 1950s—at least, how it was in New England.

At the time, I was business manager of the old Boston Herald . In our office we had a private dining room where lunch was served to the top brass and where we entertained visiting celebrities such as Congressman John McCormack, or Ted Williams, who was at the height of his baseball career.

In the fall of 1954 a bad series of hurricanes hit New England. So it seemed appropriate to invite an eminent meteorologist to lunch to tell us about it.

After the meal and the usual pleasantries, the expert settled back and in pontifical tones proceeded to give us laymen the real inside story. He said he would tell us why hurricanes were so terribly powerful. To start with, “They always originate and come in off the ocean, which, of course, is water. And do you know what water is? It is H 2 O (with great emphasis on the H). Now, you all know of the explosion of the new hydrogen bomb. What you don’t know or realize is that the H in H 2 O, water, is the same H that makes the hydrogen bomb so powerful. That is why hurricanes have so much force.”

We were all politely silent. At least we had learned something about why our New England weather forecasts had long been so undependable.

I hope and trust that the scientific background of our current batch of weather experts is better than that of forecasters in 1954. Personally, I find that relying on a ring around the moon and an east wind to predict wet weather, or a red sunset and dew on the evening grass to ensure a good day ahead, is still much more dependable than all the fancy television charts and newspaper columns from the National Weather Service.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "October/November 1986"

Authored by: John Lukacs

For a few weeks Hitler came close to winning World War II. Then came a train of events that doomed him. An eloquent historian reminds us that however unsatisfactory our world may be today, it almost was unimaginably worse.

Authored by: Maura Moynihan

Despite his feeling that “we are beginning to lose the memory of what a restrained and civil society can be like,” the senior senator from New York—a lifelong student of history—remains an optimist about our system of government and our extraordinary resilience as a people

Authored by: Louis Auchincloss

It took half a century for his critics to see his subjects as clearly as he did; but today he stands as America’s preeminent portraitist

Authored by: David Halberstam

He invented modern mass production. He gave the world the first people’s car, and his countrymen loved him for it. But at the moment of his greatest triumph, he turned on the empire he had built—and on the son who would inherit it.

Authored by: Edward L. Beach

Seventy-five years ago a powered kite landed on a cruiser. From that stunt grew the weaponry that has defined modern naval supremacy.

Authored by: Ray Broekel

It was born in America, it came of age in America, and in an era when foreign competition threatens so many of our industries, it still sweetens our balance of trade

Authored by: Ray Broekel

Drawing upon a lifetime of study, our author chooses ten classic American candy bars worthy of special attention.

Authored by: John Demos

Had Thomas Morton raised his maypole anywhere but next door to the Pilgrims, history and legend probably would have no record of him, his town, or his “lascivious” revels

Authored by: The Editors

A newly discovered record of a proud Southern society that few people ever thought existed

Authored by: Howard Mansfield

Since 1930, more than half of America’s splendid elm trees have succumbed to disease. But science is now fighting back and gaining ground.

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.