I flat out love history. I think there are times when the weather if it did not change the course of history, certainly impacted it, The storms that disrupted and in essence, destroyed the Spanish Armada is one example. The weather the day JFK was assassinated, is another, If the rain had continued as was the forecast, the top on the Limousine would not have been down, which would have changed the events. The weather on 9/11/01. Hurricane Erin well offshore with a ridge of high-pressure north-south along the east coast providing optimum visibility, Had Erin been in closer they would likely have been disruptions. You see it’s not only bad weather that can change the course of history but good weather as well.
The subject of this is D-Day. However, lets not forget the Battle of the Bulge. The arrival of the arctic high and much colder air, froze the muddy ground that was bogging down tanks and allowed the counter-attack to proceed. Historians have opined that the Battle of the Bulge would have turned anyway and may have actually led to a quicker downfall, however, the relief of the garrison at Bastogne in part benefitted from the ability to have tanks moving again rather than bogged down in mud.
D-Day was one of the biggest pressure weather forecasts, if not the biggest, in history. This is a fascinating story of the men behind the forecast, and some of the who’s who of forecasting are in this
But one can see how the forecasters threaded the needle as they had a relative opening on the 6th with moderate northwest winds
12z map June 5th
00z June 6th
12z June 6th
That low cutting southeast to the east of the UK was the headache, for by 00z the 7th things were likely cranking quite a bit more
00z June 7th
12z June 7th
Looking at things, the 5th might have been the safer day to go, but there was a no go for it. You have to read the story (I hope ou did) as I just added the maps. As usual, reanalysis can give us a bit of a look but not the real deal as actual maps.
Ever wonder if you could have made the call?
But stop and think, how that day has changed all our lives. Its popular today to assume, because of how far we have advanced since then, that we could have done it. We could have made the call. Then again perhaps the German meteorologists would have made the call too.
But when I think of D-Day I think of more. In some ways it is a bigger day of reflection for me than Memorial Day, Obviously, the weather is something I reflect on, but my very career as a Meteorologist may have been impacted. Is it because of my love for the weather, and a desire to look at what the weather was? No, Its because one of the men charging that beach was Bill Koll, my wrestling coach at Penn State. I will show you a post WW2 picture of him when he was wrestling at Northern Iowa (72-0, 3x national champ)
But he gave me a chance to walk on a team, while not as great as they are now, was a top 10 wrestling team. And for 3 years every day of my life, I got better, at school, at wrestling, my walk with the good lord ( there are no atheist in foxholes they say, and a walk-on from NJ that never wrestled varsity in High School, was like being in a foxhole).
But I think all the time about Coach Koll. He loved the weather and loved to razz me about it, He would never talk about what happened in the war. I always would wonder what he went through. But I do know this, not only do I owe him and all that charged that beach day a debt I can never repay, but I owe him for giving me a chance. It really changed the course I was on.
What if he didn’t make it through D-day? What if the forecast was wrong, or the attack failed, These are not things to take for granted, but instead things to give gratitude for. So for me D Day always brings up the idea of what happened with the weather, but also at the time the idea that there was guy charging that beach, that eventually would play a part in me attaining my dream, Fact is, the very things my mom and dad taught me, I lost sight of when I went to college, until he let me walk on that team. Like I said, every day for 3 years I got better, and I still chase that today, understanding that I am never likely to attain that level of day to day improvement again.
It’s funny cause I have never been nervous speaking in public, except once, when he asked me to speak to his church group. You just did not want to let him down. Cause he never let me down, He charged that beach long before I was born, along with so many others. He let me stay on the team when he could have just thrown me off ( and actually along with Coach Matter, who’s Dad also was in the war) worked with me all the time. And perhaps I am foolish in putting so much value in the past, but there was just something about the generation before mine that even though they are in the past, I look to measure up too all the time.
We can argue if the D-Day weather changed the course of history, But one of the guys that charged that beach changed the course of this weatherman’s history. And for that, and for all the others that came before me, the best you can do is to say thank you and to try to measure up.
June 6, 2021