Books from my collection.

Found in Books: The Weather Forecasts

Today, another find I think is really cool. I own a small collection of old (Dutch) school books, mostly about physics. In a previous post I showed you a scrap of notepaper I found in one of them. This time a set of finds in two different books, 13 years apart.

In the photo below you see the books, both on secondary level physics. The left one was printed in 1953, the one on the right in 1938.

Books in which I found weather forecasts

In both of these books, in the chapters about air pressure, I found a folded-up sheet of paper glued right onto the page. Here’s what I found when I spread them out:

A handwritten weather forecast from 1938.

A handwritten weather forecast from 1938.

A hand-drawn and typed-in weather forecast from 1951.

A hand-drawn and typed-in weather forecast from 1951.

What you’re looking at are weather forecasts. Unfortunately the images are not too clear. The fact that the sheets are fairly large and that they’re glued into the books makes it difficult to capture them, but let me walk you through them. (Perhaps I’ll find a better way to image them at some point.)

The first image is a weather forecast for Tuesday, December 20th, 1938. The printed maps are of north-western Europe and on top, drawn in by hand, are isobaric lines and other meteorological information. Here’s a close-up:

Hand-drawn isobaric map.

Hand-drawn isobaric map.

Apparently, you could subscribe to these forecasts and every day, someone at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) would draw you these maps. Not only that, but you also got a completely handwritten weather forecast:

Handwritten weather forecast. (In Dutch.)

Handwritten weather forecast. (In Dutch.)

I asked the Institute and these forecasts were produced every single day from 1890 through 1988, with the exception of wartime. Unfortunately, they didn’t know how many people were actually subscribed, but there were enough to justify making them at all. While these weather forecasts were probably not produced for mass consumption, given the level of detail in the maps and charts, it must still have been quite a lot of work to write all of this up every day for all the subscribers. Someone at the Institute must have had a steady hand.

The second forecast is for Monday, February 5th, 1958. As you can see, by this time they’ve switched from writing in the forecasts by hand to using typewriters. The maps still seem to be drawn completely by hand, though:

Hand-drawn isobaric map from the 1951 forecast.

Hand-drawn isobaric map from the 1951 forecast.

These are some really cool relics from a different age, before this kind of information could be produced digitally. The forecasts must have been used to illustrate the concept of air pressure to the students, and how important it is for meteorology.

But to think that someone drew and wrote these old weather forecasts by hand; now that’s dedication!

Marco is a theoretical physicist, currently engaged in unraveling the sequence-dependent dynamics of DNA molecules and working towards his PhD. Other passions include literature and history.

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