North and Central Georgia Loses a Forecasting Great
"Lost Weatherman Arrives a Day Late". That was the headline in an Atlanta Journal Consitution article from 1938 referring to Robert S. Allen being delayed by bad weather as he hitchhiked from Alabama to his new job as weather observer with the Atlanta Weather Bureau. Overcoming an inauspicious beginning, Mr. Allen then served his country with 33 years of Federal service, complete with stints in Tampa, FL in 1940 and Charleston, SC in 1941 before returning "home" to Atlanta in 1944. Among his early accomplishments was forecasting to Navy pilots during World War II. Forecasts were provided for pilots flying reconnaissance missions 600 miles over the open ocean to protect U.S. ships. Mr. Allen's draft notice was suspended by the government as his Navy forecasts were deemed too valuable.
Upon returing to Atlanta, Mr. Allen would continue to make strides in weather observing, pilot briefings, and forecasting. He would see great changes in the Weather Bureau as it transitioned from the Atlanta U.S. Post office on Spring Street to the eventual airport location in April of 1954. He also experienced the transition of the U.S. Weather Bureau to today's National Weather Service in 1970. At age 55, Mr. Allen retired from Federal Service. He remained very active in his 40 years of retirement, finding enjoyment in fishing and hunting at his cabin in Lake Burton. Mr. Allen lived near the Atlanta airport for 52 years until age 80 when he built a new home in McDonough, GA.
Mr. Allen passed away on the morning of October 30, 2011, at the age of 95. Prior to his passing, however, Mr. Allen made a visit to the National Weather Service's new home in Peachtree City, Georgia. While his daughters relayed what a treat it was for him to see the new technology, the meteorologists here during visit were the real beneficiaries of countless stories from the field and a life dedicated to service above self. We heard stories about how two of his brothers also worked for the National Weather Service in the early days of forecasting, working with the famed Dr. Isaac Cline at the New Orleans Weather Office. We also learned of his contributions to doppler radar in the mid 60s, technology which continues to save lives today. Of all the stories however, one of the favorites involved the person-to-person dialogue that Mr. Allen shared with his customers, public and military alike. His love of meteorology and forecasting shown brightly through his stories of interaction with the people of Atlanta and surrounding communites and serves as a great teaching tool for those who share his profession and passion. Below are some photos from his visit to the office.