Skip Navigation

September-October 2016

Print
Email
ResizeResize Text: Original Large XLarge

Retrospect: September 29–30, 1896: Cedar Keys Hurricane

In 1898, United States Weather Bureau Chief Willis Moore asked his boss, Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson, to arrange a meeting with the President of the United States, William McKinley. Moore's intention was to impress upon the commander-in-chief the need to begin a federally funded hurricane warning program under the auspices of the Weather Bureau. With the Spanish–American War underway, such a program – which would rely on a network of weather reporting stations around the fleet of United States Naval ships that were blockading Cuba – could provide a strategic advantage during the war and would likewise prove useful from a meteorological standpoint during peacetime. Moore recalled his meeting with McKinley years later, in an essay published in 1927 in the magazine The American Mercury:

I can see him now as he stood with one leg carelessly thrown across his desk, chin in hand and elbow on knee, studying the map that I had spread before him. Suddenly he turned to the Secretary and said: “Wilson, I am more afraid of a West Indian hurricane than I am of the entire Spanish Navy.” To me he said: “Get this service inaugurated at the earliest possible moment.”

Contributing Editor Sean Potter is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM), Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM), and science writer with an interest in weather history.       

The full text of this article is available by subscription only.

In this Issue

On this Topic

© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group · 530 Walnut Street, Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA · 19106