History of the National Weather Service Office Springfield, MO
Earliest known weather observations taken in Springfield were during the period from July 1857 to April 1858. The location is unknown and the records are in the Smithsonian Institute collection. Other weather observations are known to have been made in 1871, 1872, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, and 1883, but not on a full-time basis.
Regular weather observations in Springfield were begun by the Signal Corps, U.S. Army, with Sgt. T.S. Collins in charge, beginning on September 20th, 1887. Forecasts for the area were received by telegraph from Washington, D.C., from the Chief Signal Officer. Flags were displayed for weather changes and warnings. These were displayed in other parts of the city with the Globe Clothing House one of the earliest business concerns to erect a flagpole for this purpose. Also certain industries, including an early iron works, were authorized to use whistle codes to provide information to the public concerning changes in the weather.
Beginning in 1892, Sgt. Collins began a daily issue of a weather map. Information for the map was received by telegraph from Washington and later forecasts were included on the maps. Forecasts for the area were prepared in St. Louis beginning in 1893 and telegraphed to the Springfield weather office. All correspondence by Sgt. Collins was in longhand until May of 1895 when a new typewriter was received.
John S. Hazen took charge of the weather office on November 4, 1898, replacing Sgt. T.S. Collins who transferred to Macon, GA to establish a weather office there.
The practice of mailing cards containing a forecast began during the tenure of T.S. Collins, with the cards being sent to interested parties in Springfield and surrounding communities. The mailing list gradually grew in size so that by 1899, the list for a daily mailing exceeded 100. This prompted Mr. Hazen to request assistance, and Samuel Bacon was assigned as an assistant in January of 1899. By November 1899, card forecasts were being posted daily in all street cars across the city.
On January 12, 1903, John S. Hazen reported to the Chief, U.S. Weather Bureau as follows...
"I have the honor to report that this office is now equipped with a new home telephone which was installed on January 1st, and has been working satisfactorily since the 7th of January."
As telephone service improved, the local exchange operator became a part of the distribution of the forecasts from the Weather Bureau.
Nathaniel R. Taylor became weatherman-in-charge on September 8, 1905 replacing John S. Hazen who transferred to Tampa, Florida. On April 29th, 1908, John S. Hazen returned to replace Nathaniel Taylor who retired.
By September 1908, 71 weather maps were being distributed daily in Springfield, and 69 outside of the city. Cards with forecasts were being mailed daily to 170 locations in the city, and to 36 outside of the city. The printing of these maps and cards along with the mailing, required the services of a messenger, who also acted as a printer.
Walter B. Hare replaced John S. Hazen in 1914.
First broadcasts of weather forecasts were made in 1923 over radio station WIAI, owned and operated by Heer's store. Forecasts were furnished by postcard from the Weather Bureau. G. Pearson Ward(1970 General Manager of KTTS-TV), was personally involved in these early broadcasts.
William W. Talbott replaced Walter B. Hare in 1922.
KGBX began broadcasting of weather forecasts on September 10, 1932.
On October 10, 1932, William W. Talbott transferred to Tampa, Florida and was replaced by Charles C. Williford who came from Evansville, Indiana. Mr. Williford later became renowned for his radio broadcast and his ability as a speaker.
KWTO began weather broadcasts directly from the Weather Bureau office on July 1, 1935 with the broadcasts made daily at 9:45 AM except on Tuesdays and Fridays, when broadcast at 9:40 AM. No broadcast was made on Sunday. Charles Williford made the first broadcast.
By the early 1930's as airway observations began, personnel of the Weather Bureau office began a slow increase with a total of 4 employees on board in 1932.
The inaugural run of pilot balloons for wind observations began at 11AM, May 19th, 1939.
On January 1, 1940, Old airport temperature records were made official.
KTTS radio began weather broadcasts direct from the Weather Bureau on May 14, 1942.
By 1943, some of the weather personnel were women due to shortage of men caused by war.
On July 2, 1945, the office was relocated from the Administration building of the Springfield Municipal airport(east of town) to the administration building of the new Springfield-Greene county Airport, 7 miles northwest of the city.
On August 15, 1956, Charles Williford retired and was replaced by Daniel J. Maguire, former aviation forecaster from St. Louis.
On March 28, 1957, weather surveillance radar was commissioned.
On April 29, 1963, facsimile map recorder began operation replacing hand-plotting of maps at the station.
On March 28, 1964, Daniel Maguire retired and was replaced by Ray C. Nelson on August 17, 1964 who transferred from the Weather Forecast office in Kansas City.
On July 13, 1965, the Weather Bureau became part of the new Environmental Science Services Administration under the Department of Commerce.
On April 16, 1966, a new teletype circuit began in eastern and southern Missouri to provide weather information to the radio and TV stations, as well as newspapers. This later became known as the ESSA Weather Wire.
On November 7, 1968, the station name, Weather Bureau Airport Station, changed to the Weather Bureau Office.
On September 4, 1970, radiosonde observations were begun at Monett Observatory and telephoned to Springfield WBO. RAOBS were later received by Xerox telecopier until the new building at Monett was completed.
On October 3, 1970, the Weather Bureau became the National Weather Service under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) which is in the Department of Commerce.
On December 14, 1971, a tornado which began to the immediate southwest of Republic, cut a swath through the city of Republic, and moved directly northeast to pass over WSO SGF at 1125 PM CST. The entire terminal building received considerable damage. The gust recorder reached past the maximum of 100 knots. One cup was blown from the anemometer even though the anemometer was about 1000 ft from the center of the tornado path. The barograph dipped abruptly to a station pressure of 27.52 inches(sea level 28.83"). Robert Kerr and Henry Kyle were on duty at the time and were not injured.
On January 6, 1973, the weather stories written by station personnel and published daily in the Springfield newspapers except Sunday were discontinued. The last story was written by Gene Taylor. These daily stories were begun during the 1930's by C. C. Williford.
On December 31, 1976, Ray C. Nelson retired as Meteorologist in Charge and was replaced by Art Valdemar, who transferred as Official in Charge from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and reported for duty March 17, 1977.
On October 20, 1977, NOAA Weather Radio WXJ 92 began operation at 500 PM CDT with continuous weather information 24 hours a day, transmitting from KYTV tower located on W. Sunshine at 1000 watts. One day later, direct radio broadcasts over commercial radio stations discontinued. George Middleton made the last broadcast at 3:30 PM CST. Thirteen radio stations carried the last broadcast, 11 in Missouri, and 2 in northwest Arkansas.
On January 16, 1979, new AFOS computer communications hardware installation was completed.
On January 29, 1979 at 1035 AM, Cecil Tanner(Electronic Technician) died of a heart attack while on duty at WSO Springfield. He had recently transferred from WSMO Monett, MO.
On May 14, 1979, NOAA Weather Radio WXJ 61(Joplin) began operation from a tower located near Avilla.
On September 1, 1989, Maps paperless observations began.
On January 3, 1992 Jim Lee became Official in Charge of the station.
On January 23, 1994, William Davis became Meteorologist in Charge of the station.
On November 1, 1994, the weather office moved to its present location at 5805 West Highway EE. Staffing was added to include a Warning Coordination Meteorologist, a Science and Operations Officer, a Data Acquisition Program Manager, and 5 forecasters.
On November 16, 1994 the dome was placed on the new WSR-88D(NEXRAD) doppler radar.
On May 17, 1995, Upper air equipment moved from Monett with the first flight released on May 19, 1995 at 19Z.
On September 14, 1995, the new WSR-88D(NEXRAD) doppler radar was commissioned.
On November 11, 1995, ASOS was commissioned.
On November 5, 1996, took over 1st Period Zone Forecast responsibilities.