The Most Important Weather Forecast In History

It was 70 years ago this month that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist, Capt. James Stagg, made one of the most important weather forecasts of all time. Defying his colleagues, he advised Ike to postpone the invasion of Normandy by one day — from June 5, 1944 to June 6, 1944 — because of uncertain weather conditions. A bad forecast would have jeopardized the entire operation, which could have lead to the loss of thousands of lives and massive amounts of equipment would have been lost. Relying mainly on surface observations, predicting the weather more than a day or two in advance in that era was unrealistic. While far from perfect, the weather on the morning of June 6 was good enough for the invasion to proceed successfully. Years later, during a ride with President Eisenhower to the Capitol for his inauguration, President-elect John F. Kennedy asked Ike why the Normandy invasion had been so successful. Ike's answer: "Because we had better meteorologists than the Germans!”