1940 to 1959 – WWII Leads to Improvements in Aviation and Radar Operations


As the Weather Bureau became more associated with the aviation community, it became apparent that the agency belonged in the Department of Commerce. On June 30, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt transferred the Weather Bureau to the Department of Commerce, where it remains today. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, meteorological services by the Weather Bureau increased significantly, especially in aviation. The first radiosonde (the measuring instrument attached to a weather balloon) observation in Mississippi was launched from Hawkins Field on March 1, 1953.

The agency entered the radar age when the military gave the Weather Bureau twenty five surplus radars which were subsequently renovated to detect weather echoes. Information gained from the operation of these radars eventually led to the formation of a network of surveillance radars used to keep a weather watch on the nation. The first weather radar in Jackson was a World War II shipboard radar that the Navy gave to the Weather Bureau. Dubbed the WSR-3, it was first installed at Hawkins Field in 1959.
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.

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