FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The era of official weather observations began in the Summit City 111 years ago.
At 7:00 AM on Saturday, May 20th, 1911, the first official weather observation in Fort Wayne’s history was taken on the southeast corner of Berry and Calhoun Streets. It was taken on the roof of the nine story Shoaff Building and telegraphed to Washington, D.C. It was here where a first-order United States Weather Bureau Office had been established and began operations by taking this observation. The Weather Bureau would eventually be renamed to the National Weather Service in 1970.
There are some temperature and precipitation records for prior to 1911, but those numbers are not considered official. According to the weather service, farmers recorded daily weather observations near Huntertown from 1839 to 1873.
Many significant events have unfolded since the first official weather observation. The weather service office itself moved many times. On June 28th, 1930, the office moved to the Wayne-Pharmacal Building on the corner of Berry and Ewing Streets. On October 9th, 1932, the office moved to the Federal Building on the corner of Harrison and Brackenridge Streets. Observations remained on the roof of these buildings.
A turning point occurred on August 1st, 1939, when an airport station was established at Smith-Baer Municipal Airport. Airports gradually became the place where most weather observations took place and that remains the case today. The office continued downtown until April 1st, 1941. After this date, the downtown office closed and the two were consolidated in the airport’s Administration Building.
Proper placement of weather observation equipment in a location free of any unusual, localized weather effects is crucial. It was difficult to avoid oddities with the wind when the observations were on top of downtown buildings. The same oddities were experienced at Smith-Baer Municipal Airport, as an area of woods east of the airfield created some inaccurate wind observations.
On December 16th, 1946, the office was moved to the new Baer Municipal Airport, which was later renamed the Fort Wayne International Airport. The office was placed in the west half of Building Number 27.
The final move came on March 13th, 1953, to the second floor of the Terminal Building at Baer Field Airport. It would remain there, in the same set of three rooms, for the next 45 years until the office closed on March 17th, 1998. No issues with wind oddities were noted after the final move to Baer Field Airport.
The National Weather Service that serves our area is now located in Syracuse, Indiana. Both the Fort Wayne and South Bend offices condensed into one office in 1998.
There are many notable events in Fort Wayne weather observation history, including many interesting stories. Visit this link to view the entire timeline.
If you are making a weather observation, you want to be in an open area, away from trees or any obstacles. It is best to also have the equipment elevated slightly off of the ground. There is a volunteer network to report precipitation. You can become a CocoRaHS volunteer observer. Find out more here.