How Meteorologists Helped Us Win WW2

In late May 1944, German military commanders expected Allied forces to invade on the channel coast due to the high tide, full moon, good visibility and little wind. It was ideal conditions for an attack so when it didn’t come, and June brought storms, they relaxed.

There were all the less doubts that an invasion might happen in the meantime as the tides are very unfavorable in the following days and no air reconnaissance of any kind had given any hints of an imminent landing,” German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel wrote on June 4, 1944, before heading to Germany, from France, to celebrate his wife’s birthday.

US troops about to land on Utah beach in Normandy, 6 June 1944. - Credit: National Archives USA via Wikimedia

US troops about to land on Utah beach in Normandy, 6 June 1944Credit: National Archives USA via Wikimedia

While German meteorologists saw no possibility for an attack due to the unfavorable conditions, Allied forecasters were judiciously looking for a potential opening. The found one on June 6.

Credit: Royal Air Force via Wikimedia

Chief meteorologist James StaggCredit: Royal Air Force via Wikimedia

Looking at weather maps, 2 meteorologists at the U.S. base Widewing in England, Irving Krick and Ben Holzman, said the planned invasion on June 5 was possible. But British meteorologists argued that an attempted landing would be unsafe and Chief meteorologist James Stagg (of Scotland) persuaded General Dwight D. Eisenhower to cancel the June 5 invasion at the last minute. It was a blessing as stormy weather would likely have made the landing disastrous.

On June 4, the teams of Allied meteorologists saw an opportunity on June 6, a time when a storm was leaving the area and the next expected storm stalled. The Normandy landings were a go!

Around midnight on the evening of June 5, Allied forces began extensive air and naval bombardment, including airborne assaults. The coordinated attacks continued into the morning, as minesweepers cleared the channel for the invasion fleet of nearly 7,000 vessels. Allied infantry and armored divisions began landing on the coast of France at 6:30am. By the end of the day, Allied forces gained a critical foothold in German-occupied Western Europe. This undoubtedly helped us win World War II.

 

Stay Safe. Know Before™.

-The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team

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This entry was posted in General, History.