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A quiet forecast for today, as we remember the very trivial forecast for D-Day

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SUMMARY

Rain chances are in sight, for sure, but most of us will stay bone dry for the next few days. One or two of us may see a light shower or sprinkle today as a very weak front drops in this afternoon.  With daytime heating and just a little moisture around, I can’t rule out an isolated pop up shower.

That front slips through by tonight and that will leave us with another pleasant day on Thursday.  The weather is looking absolutely perfect for our TAP picnic!

By Friday, humidity starts to return and that means a return to isolated afternoon showers/storms. Most of us will stay dry but a few of us will see some rain. Humidity continues to increase over the weekend. The increase in humidity, along with a slow moving front to our north, will combine to increase our shower and storm chances this weekend. Many of us will see rain before the weekend is over. That rain will be needed, as things dry out fast this time of year.

No widespread severe weather is forecast over the next week, though some afternoon storms could become strong, containing gusty winds, frequent lightning, and heavy downpours. And you know the drill, if thunder roars you go indoors.

DISCUSSION

The tropics remain clear and the threat of severe weather remains over the northern Plains. The outlook for next week looks rather benign, as well, with near normal temps and precip.

 

I think we can safely say that our weather has entered a quiet and, shall we say, boring pattern? (ha) Seventy-four years ago today we had troops in Europe that would have given anything for a boring weather forecast. Today is the anniversary of D-Day, one of the most decisive battles in all of World War II.

The weather forecast for Europe this time of year can be a lot trickier than weather forecasting around here. That forecast was crucial and could ultimately determine victory or defeat for the D-Day battle.  This was 74 years ago and the science of meteorology was rough around the edges, to put it lightly. To make matters worse, you had a split between the American forecasters and the European forecasters. Who could you trust to be right?

A few years ago, the History Channel published a great, short article on the trivial weather forecast for D-Day. I’m including it below.

The remembrance of those who gave so much for our way of life here must always extend beyond Memorial Day. That remembrance should stay close to our hearts every day of the year.

You all be sure and enjoy this day.

The Weather Forecast That Saved D-Day
By Christopher Klein
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In contrast to the bright morning about to dawn over Portsmouth, England, on June 4, 1944, gloom settled over the Allied commanders gathered inside Southwick House at 4:15 a.m. Years of preparation had been invested in the invasion of Normandy, but now, just hours before the launch of D-Day operations, came the voice of Group Captain James Stagg urging a last-minute delay. As Operation Overlord’s chief meteorological officer, the lanky Brit was hardly a battlefield commander, but the ultimate fate of D-Day now rested in his decision-making.

The disappointed commanders knew that the list of potential invasion dates were only a precious few because of the need for a full moon to illuminate obstacles and landing places for gliders and for a low tide at dawn to expose the elaborate underwater defenses installed by the Germans. June 5, chosen by Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower to be D-Day, was the first date in a narrow three-day window with the necessary astronomical conditions. The massive Normandy landings, however, also required optimal weather conditions. High winds and rough seas could capsize landing craft and sabotage the amphibious assault; wet weather could bog down the army and thick cloud cover could obscure the necessary air support.

The critical, but unenviable task of predicting the English Channel’s notoriously fickle weather fell to a team of forecasters from the Royal Navy, British Meteorological Office and U.S. Strategic and Tactical Air Force, and as D-Day approached, storm clouds brewed inside the meteorological office. Observations from Newfoundland taken on May 29 reported changing conditions that might arrive by the proposed invasion date. Based on their knowledge of English Channel weather and observations, the British forecasters predicted the stormy weather would indeed arrive on June 5. The American meteorologists, relying on a differing forecasting method based on historic weather maps, instead believed that a wedge of high pressure would deflect the advancing storm front and provide clear, sunny skies over the English Channel.

In the early hours of June 4, Stagg believed foul weather was only hours away. He sided with his fellow British colleagues and recommended a postponement. Knowing that the weather held the potential to be an even fiercer foe than the Nazis, a reluctant Eisenhower agreed in the early hours of June 4 to delay D-Day by 24 hours.

On the other side of the English Channel, German forecasters also predicted the stormy conditions that indeed rolled in as Stagg and his fellow Brits had feared. The Luftwaffe’s chief meteorologist, however, went further in reporting that rough seas and gale-force winds were unlikely to weaken until mid-June. Armed with that forecast, Nazi commanders thought it impossible that an Allied invasion was imminent, and many left their coastal defenses to participate in nearby war games. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel even returned home to personally present a pair of Parisian shoes to his wife as a birthday present.

German Luftwaffe meteorologists, however, relied on less sophisticated data and models than their Allied counterparts, says John Ross, author of “The Forecast for D-Day: And the Weatherman behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble.” “The Allies had a much more robust network of weather stations in Canada, Greenland and Iceland; of weather ships and weather flights over the North Atlantic and observations by secret agreement from weather stations in the neutral Republic of Ireland,” he says. Those weather stations, in particular one at a post office at Blacksod Point in the far west of Ireland, proved crucial in detecting the arrival of a lull in the storms that Stagg and his colleagues believed would allow for an invasion on June 6. As rain and high winds lashed Portsmouth on the night of June 4, Stagg informed Eisenhower of the forecast for a temporary break. With the next available date for an invasion nearly two weeks away, the Allies risked losing the element of surprise if they waited. In spite of the pelting rain and howling winds outside, Eisenhower placed his faith in his forecasters and gave the go-ahead for D-Day.

The weather during the initial hours of D-Day was still not ideal. Thick clouds resulted in Allied bombs and paratroopers landing miles off target. Rough seas caused landing craft to capsize and mortar shells to land off the mark. By noon, however, the weather had cleared and Stagg’s forecast had been validated. The Germans had been caught by surprise, and the tide of World War II began to turn.

Weeks later, Stagg sent Eisenhower a memo noting that had D-Day been pushed to later in June, the Allies would have encountered the worst weather in the English Channel in two decades. “I thank the Gods of War we went when we did,” Eisenhower scribbled on the report. He could also have been thankful for Stagg overruling the advice of the American meteorologists who wanted to go on June 5 as planned, which Ross says would have been a disaster. “The weather over Normandy contained too much cloud cover for Ike’s greatest strategic asset, the Allied air forces, to effectively protect the landings from German armor, artillery and infantry reserves. Winds were too strong for the deployment of paratroopers to secure bridges and crossroads inland from the beaches thus preventing German reinforcement of coastal positions. Waves were too high for landing craft to put soldiers and supplies ashore. The key element of surprise—location and time—would have been lost, and the conquest of western Europe could well have taken another year.”

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