National Weather Service at 150: 7 Tech Inventions That Improved Forecasting


What we know today as NOAA’s National Weather Service was founded 150 years ago on February 9, 1870 — that's 15 decades of science and service to the country.

Since then, weather forecasting has become far more accurate and timely. As NWS celebrates its 150th birthday, let’s take a look at 7 tech advancements that changed the way we do weather forecasting:

  1. Weather balloons
    Testing of unmanned balloons to carry weather instruments into the atmosphere began in 1906, and in 1909 the Weather Bureau — a predecessor of the National Weather Service — began using free-rising balloons. A free-rising balloon launched from Omaha, Nebraska, reached a height of 15 miles on October 12, 1909. Daily balloon observations began in the 1940s. Today, NWS launches weather balloons twice daily from 92 stations across the U.S. to observe the upper atmosphere and provide valuable data for weather forecasting.

  2. Aircraft

  3. Computers

  4. Radar

  5. NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio

  6. Weather satellites

  7. Automated SUrface Observing System (ASOS)

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