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March 23, 2011 / Dave Gorham

Happy World Meteorological Day!

Each year on March 23rd the United Nations celebrates World Meteorological Day. This is a global observance (not a public holiday) that celebrates the date in 1950 when the World Meteorological Organization was established. The WMO is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 189 member states and territories that is headquartered in Geneva. Every year they have a different theme and this year it’s “Climate for You.”

Image: World Meteorological Organization

Various events are being held today such as conferences, symposia and exhibitions for meteorological professionals, community leaders and the general public. Prizes for meteorological research are presented or announced on or around this day every year. These prizes include:

The International Meteorological Organization was established at the first International Meteorological Congress in Vienna, in 1873. The organization aimed to establish meteorological station networks. These networks were linked by telegraph and greatly improved weather forecasts. This contributed to shipping services’ safety and efficiency.

The International Meteorological Organization became the World Meteorological Organization on March 23, 1950. It became the UN’s specialized agency for meteorology, operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences in 1951.

The WMO plays a crucial role in contributing to people’s safety and welfare. Its work is important in providing food security, water resources and transport information. World Meteorological Day has been observed on March 23 each year since 1961.

This year, the theme is “Climate for You.” Image: World Meteorological Organization

Each year a different theme is chosen for World Meteorological Day. Here’s a list of previous themes through the years:

  • 60 years of service for your safety and well-being (2010).
  • Weather, climate and the air we breathe (2009). 
  • Observing our planet for a better future (2008).
  • Polar meteorology: Understanding global impacts (2007).
  • Preventing and mitigating natural disasters (2006).
  • Weather, climate, water and sustainable development (2005).
  • Weather, climate, water in the information age (2004).
  • Our future climate (2003).

On a side note, did you know that February 5th was National Weatherman’s Day in the U.S.? It was established to commemorate the 1744 birth of John Jeffries who was one of America’s first weather observers. He began taking daily weather observations in Boston in 1774 and he took the first balloon observation in 1784. This is a day to recognize the men and women who collectively provide Americans with the best weather, water and climate forecasts and warning services of any nation.

John Jeffries. Image: Wikipedia

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