by Sean Potter
F or centuries, weather has been a factor in both helping and hindering militaries in their efforts to wage wars. Throughout World War II, weather played a decisive role in key operations for both the Axis and the Allies, from Hitler’s unsuccessful wintertime siege of Moscow to the careful planning of the D-Day invasion and Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor (for more on this event, see “Retrospect” from the November/December 2007 issue of Weatherwise).
When the United States sought the ultimate weapon to end the war with Japan, it turned to the scientists, engineers, and military leaders of the Manhattan Project, whose top-secret mission was to design, build, and successfully test the world’s first atomic bomb. Having completed that task on July 16, 1945, in the remote desert of New Mexico (for more on this event, see “Retrospect” from the July/August 2006 issue of Weatherwise), government and military officials wasted no time preparing to demonstrate to the Empire of Japan—and the entire world—the awesome power of nuclear fission.