NWS Weather Forecast Office
112 Airpark Drive South
Negaunee, Michigan 49866
The National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) Marquette has been a part of the daily lives of Upper Michigan residents for over 130 years. Although the mission to protect lives and property has not changed in all that time, weather forecasting in itself has changed by immeasurable degrees. This page is dedicated to the exploration of the history of WFO Marquette from the changing technology to produce and distribute the forecasts to the former locations the office has called home. Users with an internet explorer browser may obtain additional information for each image seen on this site by simply passing the mouse over the image. All users may simply click an image to open a new window with an enlarged version.
WFO Marquette has one of the most challenging forecast and warning programs in the National Weather Service, including public (inland zones as well as an extensive lake influence), marine (Lake Superior open waters, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan nearshore marine forecasts), aviation, fire weather, hydrology, and cooperative observing. WFO Marquette's area of responsibility can be seen in the map to the right.
The history of WFO Marquette goes back as far as the National Weather Service itself. In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant (left) signed a joint resolution of Congress approving the establishment of a weather service under the U.S. War Department's Army Signal Service, including the establishment of the Marquette, MI, office. Service began on November 1, 1870. In 1891, the organization formally became the Weather Bureau and moved to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Weather Bureau transferred to the Department of Commerce in 1940 where it remains to this day. Thirty years later in 1970, the Weather Bureau changed its name to the National Weather Service and was placed under the newly established National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Processing System (AWIPS). AWIPS is an interactive computer system that integrates all meteorological, hydrological, satellite, and radar data into one computer workstation, and has become the centerpiece of National Weather Service operations. AWIPS allows forecasters the interactive capability to view, analyze, combine, and manipulate large amounts of graphical and alphanumeric weather data. Thus, AWIPS provides a very efficient and effective means for forecasters to prepare and issue timely, accurate forecasts and warnings. AWIPS is installed in all 122 Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), 13 regional River Forecast Centers (RFCs), and nine national weather centers.
Evolving as well has been the observing equipment used in the forecast and warning process. Basic but invaluable devices like thermometers (temperature), barometers (atmospheric pressure), and anemometers (windspeed and direction) have been around since the beginning and are still used today. However in the last half century, meteorologists have added the technologies of radar, satellites, and atmospheric computer modeling. These technologies in themselves are continuing to evolve, becoming more sophisticated and beneficial to the forecast and warning process with each passing year. The development and use of radar with Doppler capability gives meteorologists the ability to see the speeds and motions within thunderstorms and allows for much faster and accurate detection of severe weather including severe straightline winds, hail, and tornadoes. The images below show some of the advances in radar technology during the past 50 years both in how data is analyzed and also the graphical reflectivity display.
The National Weather Service and WFO Marquette have a long history of forecasting and hazard warning services to the residents of Upper Michigan. There is little doubt that weather forecasting and the technology to produce forecasts will continue to evolve as our understanding of the atmosphere improves. With all that has changed, our goal has always been the protection of life and property, and in the years to come, we will continue to keep a vigilant watch.