WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Not just another card store holiday

Posted February 5, 2014

— It doesn’t quite rank with Mother’s Day, Arbor Day or even Groundhog Day, but Feb. 5 is a special day for meteorologists. It’s National Weatherperson’s Day!

We celebrate the birthday of John Jeffries, who was born on Feb. 5, 1744. Jeffries became one of the first American weather observers, in the modern sense of the word, when he began taking daily weather observations in Boston in 1774.

Ten years later, he few a hot-air balloon up to 9,000 feet above the ground and took the first above-the-ground observations as well. (Interesting aside: On that flight, he also carried mail – considered the earliest air mail!)

Many of the Founding Fathers of the country were also avid weather observers, a combination of scientific curiosity and agrarian necessity. Thomas Jefferson, for example, took four different observations of the weather in Philadelphia on the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. Of course, Ben Franklin’s interest in the weather – from flying kites in lightning storms to publishing an almanac – is well known.

Jeffries, Jefferson and Franklin were far from the first people in North America to observe the weather. In fact, Native Americans were following weather patterns long before European settlers landed at Plymouth, Mass. Recent research has sought to understand how Native Americans observed their local weather patterns and what lessons they may have to teach us about our weather today.

So, from us to you, happy weatherperson’s day!

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