Weather observations began less than a year after the city of Boise was founded in 1863. The post surgeon at Fort Boise, renamed Boise Barracks in 1879, began taking observations at the Post Hospital (just north of downtown Boise) on February 1, 1864. This new practice was due to the U.S. Army Medical Department’s belief that there was a possible link between human disease and weather, and required all post doctors to take daily weather observations of temperatures, wind, and precipitation. The observations were taken continuously at the post hospital until November 30, 1898.
The U.S. Signal Service, the predecessor to the National Weather Service, assumed official responsibility for weather observations in the 1870s. The Signal Service took observations in downtown Boise between July 1, 1877 and June 30, 1890 at three different locations: the Overland Hotel, the Davis Building and the Perrault Building. Only the Perrault Building remains today. Budget shortfalls and the belief that other weather observations in the Northwest would be more valuable to forecasters in Washington D.C., led to the closure of the Signal Service station in Boise in 1890. The station was moved to Baker City, Oregon, where it operated until 1949.
The U.S. Weather Bureau, now known as the National Weather Service, opened an office in the Sonna Building in downtown Boise on December 1, 1898. Samuel Mudd Blandford, the nephew of the infamous Dr. Samuel Mudd1, was placed in charge of the office and became the first official meteorologist in Boise. In 1904, the office was moved to the fourth floor of the U.S. Federal Building (in front of the Capitol Building). The first weather balloon flight took place from that roof on November 17, 1926. Weather observations were briefly taken at the first Boise airport, now Boise State University, between 1933 and 1939, then moved to Gowen Field in December of 1939. The office later moved from the Boise Airport Terminal to the National Interagency Fire Center in June of 1969, where it remains today.
1Samuel Alexander Mudd was an American physician who was imprisoned for conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
Author: Josh Smith