Friday, November 11, 2005

Science and Service

The coldest temperatures of the season in the Washington metro area rebounded to 50 or above by noon today; mid-50s were widespread by mid afternoon. This will be the first day in almost 2 weeks with below-normal temperature. The official low this morning was 38, the first time it's been below 40 this fall. Here in Montgomery County outside the Beltway, it was 35 with some frost. Dulles briefly broke the freezing mark at 31. Winds have dropped dramatically; note the much wider distance between isobars on this afternoon's weather map.

With clear skies and calm winds, temperatures tonight will drop a little further, to the upper 30s in the city and the lower 30s in the suburbs with widespread frost. Tomorrow will see a warmup to around 61 under sunny skies.

Seventh Service Salute

On this Veterans Day, Camden has included in his post below a review of the importance of weather in war. As a proud veteran of the NOAA Commissioned Corps and member of the 28th Basic Officer Training Course, I salute the men and women of this elite organization. One of the 7 uniformed services of the U.S., the NOAA Corps is one of only 2 civilian services, the other one being the much better known Public Health Service. The NOAA Corps is by far the smallest service at a total strength of about 300. Members of the Corps steer the ships and pilot the planes which support NOAA's meteorological, oceanographic, and fisheries missions.

The ancestry of the NOAA Corps can be traced back to 1807, when scientist-president (Now there's a concept!) Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in creating a "Survey of the Coast". This Coast Survey, which was responsible for developing nautical navigation charts, evolved into the Coast & Geodetic Survey (C&GS), which also had the responsibility for establishing the national geodetic network as a reference for land surveys. Civilian members of the Coast Survey served in many theaters of the Civil War, often performing mapping duty in or ahead of the front lines. The commissioned corps of the C&GS was formed when the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, in order to facilitate coordination of its activities with the military services. Over half of the commissioned officers served active duty with the Army, Navy, or Marines during both WWI and WWII. Following a series of reorganizations of scientific agencies, the NOAA Corps as it exists today was formed along with NOAA in 1970.

Among the many duties of NOAA Corps officers is piloting hurricane reconnaissance missions. Military Officer magazine had an article in 2003 about one such flight. Surveying the land, air, and oceans and performing scientific research on the environment, the NOAA Corps shows that is possible to promote public safety without using weapons of destruction.

College students who meet the eligibility requirements, like to work outdoors, want to serve the country without blowing things up, and are interested in qualifying for full Veterans Administration benefits (Yes, the GI Bill paid the rent for grad school.), should check out the application process.

Armistice Day Storm

Paul Kocin has a review of the Armistice Day Storm of 1940 in the Weather Channel blog. This is the same storm which earlier led to the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

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