National Weatherpersons Day
February 5 is celebrated annually as National Weatherpersons Day in honor of Dr. John Jeffries, one of America’s first weather observers. National Weatherpersons Day is held on February 5 to mark Jeffries’s birthday in 1744.
John Jeffries was born on February 5, 1744 (some sources say 1745), in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard College in 1763, Jeffries earned his medical degree from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in 1769. Returning to his hometown, Jeffries became known as one of the leading doctors of his day and helped treat one of the first people shot during the 1770 Boston Massacre.
In 1771, Jeffries was made assistant surgeon aboard a British North American Squadron ship as well as a nearby hospital. A Loyalist, Jeffries sided with the British during the American Revolution and was made surgeon-major of the forces in America. He attended to wounded British soldiers during the Battle of Bunker Hill. In 1774, he began taking daily weather observations, and is considered one of the first to do so in America. After the war, he settled in England.
In addition to his medical and science interests, Jeffries was also interested in flight, completing the first balloon flight over London, during which he dropped cards to the people watching from the ground. The flight also had a scientific purpose. Jeffries used it to study the air at higher elevations. He brought along a barometer, thermometer, hygrometer, electrometer, mariner’s compass, and seven bottles to collect air from different heights. Jeffries then turned his findings over to the Royal Society to be analyzed. Jeffries conducted another balloon flight on January 7, 1785, with Jean-Pierre Blanchard, becoming the first people to cross the English Channel by air.
Jeffries returned to Boston in 1790 and continued to keep detailed weather records, as he had done when he lived there prior to the Revolution. He also worked as a surgeon, midwife, and gave the first public lecture on anatomy in Boston. Jeffries also owned one of the most valuable personal book collections in the country.
By the time of his death, Jeffries had collected daily diary entries for more than 40 years recounting his significant medical and surgery cases, and nearly 2,000 midwifery experiences. This was in addition to recording three entries a day on the weather. Jeffries died from a strangulated hernia on September 16, 1819.
National Weatherperson’s Day was created to recognize the men and women who provide our weather, water, and climate forecasts. These people work around the clock analyzing weather data and running computer models to provide the most accurate forecasts they can. Forecasts are also used to help firefighters control wildfires and emergency management officials to deal with hazardous chemical spills. Detailed climate records also aid engineers, architects, researchers, insurance companies, and more.
In addition to meteorologists, there are more than 10,000 volunteer observers who collect temperature, precipitation, and other data for use by forecasters. There are also 300,000 storm spotting volunteers who help provide up to date reports on potential severe weather.
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