• An 1875 War Department weather map documenting precipitation over the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard.

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The Weather Bureau

In 1870, a series of freak storms killed several people in the Great Lakes region. These devastating weather events prompted Congress to pass a resolution instructing military posts throughout the continental United States to communicate observations of approaching storms to the Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce. General Halpert Paine, the Congressman who wrote the Resolution, suggested that the Army execute the law because “military discipline would probably secure the greatest promptness, regularity, and accuracy in the required observations.”