Pat Shingleton for Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013

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From the Internet to mobile applications, television and radio, sources for weather information are unlimited. This wasn’t the case 142 years ago. In 1871, the first official U.S. Weather Forecasts were issued. As noted in a previous column, the “new” service was launched from the Signal Office under the auspices of the War Department. Excited about the new service, The New York Times posted for the first time in its headline: “Official Weather Predictions.” The means in which the Signal Office dispensed its first forecast included observer-sergeants positioned around the country. Housed in the War Department and structured under the chief signal officer, the Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce was officially responsible for “the announcement by signal and telegraphing the approach and force of storms.”

Fastcast: Chilly, dry.