February 9th is the birthday of the United States Weather Bureau. Professor Lapham of Milwaukee was instrumental in raising awareness for a need for the government to pay attention to weather. He frequently forwarded clippings of newspaper articles outlining the deaths of sailors due to severe Great Lake storms. Congress passed the legislation and President Ulysses S. Grant established the Bureau in 1870. The official name for this agency was "The Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce". The agency granted the Secretary of War to maintain meteorological observations and data and to warn citizens of approaching storms. The task was assigned to the War Department because it was believed military discipline would allow the "greatest promptness, regularity, and accuracy" needed to maintain the service. Every day, personnel from the Signal Service Corps would report weather information to Washington DC.
The Weather Bureau would evolve over time to become the National Weather Service under the administration of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.