1882 to 1899 – Signal Service and Cotton Region Observers
In September 1881, the U.S. Signal Service inaugurated a system of weather observations across the southern U.S. for the benefit of the cotton industry. During the growing/harvesting season, usually April through October (start and stopping times varied depending on available funding), cotton region observers across the southern U.S. took daily weather observations that were telegraphed to the nearest Signal Service center. These reports were published in newspapers and in bulletins at cotton exchanges. According to Signal Service records, cotton region observations began in Jackson on April 1, 1882 and were taken at the Alabama and Vicksburg Depot located on Court and State Streets.
On October 1, 1890, the Weather Service was first identified as a civilian enterprise when Congress, at the request of President Benjamin Harrison, passed an act creating a Weather Bureau in the Department of Agriculture. Beginning April 16, 1893, weather observations were taken essentially on a continuous basis at Jackson by Weather Bureau cotton region and voluntary/cooperative observers, with additional observations under the Voluntary Observer Program began in December 1893. Early cotton region weather observers were telegraph operators for the A&V Railroad through 1899.
Much of this history is comprised of information from research done by Mr. Murray W. Smith, prepared in 1949 and Gary Grice, prepared on 2006.