Extract from Schools and Colleges of Ontario: 1792-1910: Vol 3.,
by J.G. Hodgins, published by L.K. Cameron, Toronto, 1910


(Under the Direction of the Dominion Government.)


Mr. R. F. Stupart, the Director of the Observatory, and his Staff of eighteen assistants, receive the Weather Reports from 312 Observation Stations scattered throughout the whole Dominion, and from 36 stations in the United States, map out the varying conditions of storm, or sunshine, on the daily Weather Map, diagnose the situation generally, and prophesy what the next 36 hours will bring forth, meteorologically, in all the Provinces of Canada.  It shows the care and knowledge required in making the diagnosis that in the whole history of the Observatory there is not to be found two of these daily maps exactly alike.  Every morning and every evening present new problems for solution.  Winds are moving in different directions in different parts of the country; the areas of high and low pressure are never exactly the same at the same hour on different days; where there was rain here yesterday, it is sunshine to-day.  Hence the "clerk of the weather" cannot work by routine and precedent.  He must bring into play his theories of  "cause and effect"; analyze wind movements, temperatures, high and low pressures, and, partly by science and experience, partly by pure guess work, predict what is going to happen next.  Hence the man who blames "Old Probs" for the few mistakes he makes is decidedly inconsiderate.  As a matter of fact, our local weather predictions are right nine times out of ten -- and in the tenth instance they are usually partly right.

The Observing Stations.

Each of the Observing Stations throughout the Dominion is equipped with a Mercurial Barometer, two Thermometers (a maximum and a minimum Thermometer), an Anemometer to measure the velocity of the wind, a Wind Vane and a Rain Gauge.  From 234 of these Stations the Reports are sent in voluntarily.  At 40 of the Stations, mostly in the Territories and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence district, small gratuities are given.  At the other stations a regular salaried Official makes his daily observations at stated intervals and telegraphs daily, in code, the weather particulars to headquarters.

Here is a sample of one of the despatches received: "Toronto tureen lushburg sacrum essence weeping currency charade."  Not very intelligible is it?  But to Mr. Stupart it announces that the Barometer reads 90 minutes, the temperature 74 Degrees, one-tenth inch of rain has fallen, the weather is fair, the Wind northwest, the Wet Bulb Thermometer reads 70 degrees, etcetera.

These Reports are filed from the Telegraph Offices at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day, 75th meridian time.  By 8.30 a.m. all Reports from the Atlantic to the Pacific have been received at the local Observatory.  At 9 o'clock, the United States Reports are received via Buffalo.  The Weather Map is immediately made out, and, after a careful study of the Chart, the "probabilities" for the next 36 hours in the various Provinces are printed.  These "probabilities" are ready by 10 a.m. The Telegraph wires quickly transmit the results of the local diagnosis back to the various Stations, and by noon the Dominion knows what sort of Weather to expect up to eight o'clock on the evening of the following day.  Reports are also sent to various United States points.  Some 85 Weather Charts are also sent to the local newspaper offices, the Board of Trade and other places in Toronto where they may be seen by the public.

The Storm Signals.

If a storm is brewing on the Lakes, or on the Atlantic, or Pacific, Storm Signals are sent out.  At the various Harbour Ports, Mariners may know by looking at the Signal Mast whether there is peril on the deep that day or not.  Drums and Cones are the Signals used.  The Cone displayed alone means a moderate gale; the Drum and Cone mean a heavy gale; the peak of the Cone downward means a southerly, or easterly Wind; the peak of the Cone upwards means northerly or westerly Winds.

The Official Time-Keeper.

Another function of the Meteorological Office is to regulate the Watches and clocks of the Dominion.  At exactly 11.55 a.m. every day the Fire Hall Clocks in Toronto are rung by electrical communication with the Observatory.  At noon daily comparisons are made with Montreal, and residents of Quebec and St. John know by the dropping of the time balls that it is 12 o'clock, noon.  At Vancouver and Ottawa a gun is fired.

Practical Uses of the Reports.

In Toronto alone the Observatory phone is kept busy all day with queries from business men and others who wish to know how the Weather is going to affect their plans.  Fruit dealers, especially, are constantly ringing up during the Fruit Season for weather information to guide them in making shipments.  Livestock men often postpone their shipments on the strength of unfavourable weather predictions.  Steamship companies are largely guided by the "probs" in stocking their commissariat department.

Some Weather Facts.

A few facts may be noted as regards general Weather conditions which affect us here. Storms usually come to Toronto from the south, or southwest.  Atmospheric movements are generally from the west to east.  The low pressure being in the west, or southwest, the wind consequently sets in from the east, or northeast.  Hence an easterly wind is usually the precursor of Storm. Inversely, a west wind usually denotes that the area of low pressure is receding and Fair Weather is coming.

The rings around the Moon, contrary to general supposition, are not at all reliable indications of rain, or snow.  There is, however, some ground for the popular belief.  These rings usually denote the formation of a certain kind of clouds which frequently produce rain, but cannot always be relied upon to do so.

In Mr. Stupart's opinion, sun spots have more to do with our weather conditions than have the rings around the moon.

Snowless Christmases.

The official records show some curious facts about our local weather.  It is a peculiar fact that only once in eighteen consecutive years have the sleighs been running in Toronto on Christmas Day.  On the whole, the local weather Experts believe that the settled parts of Canada, and especially Ontario, lead nearly all the other countries in the general average of fine, sunshiny healthful weather.

Curious Contrivances of Observers.

Most people are ignorant as to just how the weather Observers note the changes of weather, the varying temperatures, the amount of rainfall, barometric pressure, etcetera.  They do not have to keep vigil all night and all day marking down the risings and the fallings of the mercury. Photography, electricity and various mechanical devices do the work instead.  Man only does the brain work and compiles the statistics.  The velocity of the wind, the temperature, the humidity, earthquakes and nearly all other regular meteorological phenomena are marked down on paper, as they occur, by means of the various instruments in the Observatory.

The Thermogram, for instance, makes an exact diagram of the temperature and humidity, and gives, so to speak, a photograph of how hot and how cold and how damp the weather is.  It is one of the most interesting Instruments at the Observatory.  An upper black irregular line marks the variation of the Mercury in the Dry Bulb Thermometer; a lower irregular line marks the variation of the Mercury in the Wet Bulb Thermometer, i.e., the Thermometer kept at a constant degree of humidity.  Consequently the space between the lines marks the varying humidity.  As the Mercury in the two Thermometers rises and falls light filtered through an Air Bulb falls on to a slowly revolving film of bromide paper, thus taking a sort of moving picture of the day's progress of the Mercury.  These films are developed each day and furnish an exact record for statistical purposes.

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