The weather prophets

the charleville rainmaker

Cloudy skies at last! On 26 September 1902, the drought-wearied residents of Charleville looked to the heavens with new hope. They knew, of course, that clouds offered no certainty of rain; too often before they had watched them drift on, merely taunting with the possibility of relief. But this time the people of Charleville had science on their side. They were going to make it rain.

Stationed around the town were six Stiger Vortex guns, their long, funnel-shaped barrels aimed skywards. At noon the guns were manned, and at the direction of the Mayor, ten shots were ‘fired from each in quick succession’. A few drops of rain fell, but nothing more until two o’clock, when there was a light shower. The drought had not been broken, but it seemed an encouraging start. Perhaps, it was suggested, the prevailing strong winds had ‘interfered with the force of the vortices’.1

Later that afternoon, the experiment was repeated. This time there was no rain. Nothing. Moreover, two of the guns exploded, rendering them unusable. No-one was injured, but the experiment had clearly failed. There would be no more rain. The clouds again moved on, while the would-be rainmakers succumbed to disappointment and recrimination.2

Charleville’s assault on the weather was marshalled by Clement Wragge, Queensland’s energetic, but irascible meteorologist. On a visit to Europe in 1901, Wragge had investigated the use of the Stiger Vortex to disperse hailstorms over Italian vineyards. His research led him to believe that the guns might be usefully employed against ‘the heavy “dry” cloud masses of continental Australia’, those ‘which so often promise rain and then pass away without any precipitation’. Discharging a Stiger Vortex battery into the clouds would ‘probably result’ in a ‘downpour’, Wragge suggested. In any case, he added, ‘the experiment is thoroughly worth trying‘.3

Many Queenslanders shared his enthusiasm. Public subscriptions funded the construction of the guns, and Wragge supervised their installation at Charleville.4 But there were no clouds on which to test them. An impatient Wragge departed after a few days, leaving the experiment in the hands of the town’s mayor. When informed of its failure, Wragge had no doubt who was to blame. ‘I could not manage to stay at Charleville until a favourable opportunity of making the experiments occurred’, he explained, ‘and, of course, if the Charleville people will not carry out my instructions, I cannot help it’.5

Wragge’s angry outburst was typical of the man and his career. Although he was well regarded by the public, Wragge had the unhelpful knack of alienating many of his colleagues and potential supporters. Styling himself as the ‘Boss weather prophet’, and promulgating Australia-wide predictions from his ‘Chief Weather Bureau, Brisbane’, Wragge sought to claim both the continent and the discipline as his own, hindering attempts to foster intercolonial cooperation.6 And yet, for all his arrogance and irritability, Wragge successfully focussed attention on the significance of meteorology for the developing nation. His vision of a Federal Weather Bureau would finally be achieved, but he would not be the one to lead it.7

The failure of his Charleville experiment was just one of a series of disappointments that were to bring Wragge’s Australian career to a sad and bitter end. Lack of funds forced him to close his weather bureau in 1903, and his ambition to take charge of the newly-established Commonwealth service was thwarted by the appointment of H A Hunt a few years later. Rejected and seemingly unwanted, Wragge left the country to establish an observatory in New Zealand. Just as his attempt to master Charleville’s weather had ended in anger and derision, so his efforts to control Australian meteorology left him isolated and indignant – a weather prophet in the wilderness.

reading the signs

‘I am prompted by the futile forecasts of the present deluge to draw attention to the inadequacy (and often inaccuracy) of our weather forecasts’, an annoyed reader wrote to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald in 1946. Whether through lack of funding or incompetence, the letter argued, Bureau staff seemed incapable of reading the most basic weather signs: ‘the portents of the present storm were clearly written in the sky on Saturday’.8 The Bureau responded a few days later, dryly noting that storm warnings issued on the basis of ‘portents’ might cause ‘unnecessary alarm or panic’. Moreover, it reassured the public that its forecasts were the work of a ‘competent academic staff’ drawing ‘scientific deductions’ from the available data.9

We all like to dabble in meteorology. Every day brings a new batch of predictions for us to test and discuss. We place our trust in science, but still we look to the sky, gathering our own observations, developing our own theories, offering our own forecasts – ‘It looks like rain’, ‘It’s going to be a hot one’ – each of us our own weather prophet.

Long before Europeans invaded the continent, Aboriginal people had learned to read nature for signs of change, developing a sophisticated understanding of the climatic cycles that shaped their lives. European settlers found the seasons reversed and the signs obscure. Cooks and Banks arrived at Botany Bay one rainy Autumn, but imagined themselves in the midst of a long dry season. Their optimism encouraged plans for colonisation, but left early settlers ill-prepared for the climatic hardships that followed.10

Gradually white Australians compiled their own catalogue of weather indicators, drawing on folklore, observation and fancy. In 1934, Alec Chisholm asked readers of the Argus ‘what are the chief signs of rain in Australia?’ and was inundated (!). ‘Indeed’, Chisholm wrote surveying the responses, ‘I begin to wonder why Australia troubles to sustain weather bureaus when all her difficulties in point might be solved by going to the ant and the frog’.11 Beyond the humour, however, lies a significant question, why should we put our faith in meteorologists (and not frogs)?

The development of meteorology in the twentieth century entailed dramatic improvements in both the range of observations available and the methods used for their analysis. But it also involved the establishment of meteorology as a discipline, as a ‘science’. Technical and theoretical improvements had to be matched by new levels of training, by the enforcement of professional standards and accountability. Meteorologists had to demonstrate their expertise, and garner the trust of the community. The weather prophet had to make way for the scientist.

Accuracy provided a convenient, but contentious, index of meteorological achievement. Wragge, in his typically immodest way, claimed a remarkable ’90 to 95 per cent of accuracy in forecasting’.12 Such boasts, coupled with Wragge’s practice of issuing forecasts for the whole of Australia, cast doubt on the authority and expertise of the other colonial meteorologists. Senator Higgs, speaking in support of Wragge in 1902, commented that ‘although there are in the various States gentlemen who venture to make forecasts, …the question generally asked by the public regarding the weather is “What does Mr Wragge say?”‘.13 One of the aforementioned gentlemen, Sir Charles Todd, Government Astronomer of South Australia, took some satisfaction in compiling a score sheet tabling Wragge’s predictions against his own. Over a period of twelve years, he calculated his accuracy at 83 per cent, with Wragge trailing on 62 per cent. The figures ‘speak for themselves’, Todd concluded.14 However, the matter at issue was not just who was right, but who was deserving of public trust and support. Who were the experts?

In 1911, the Commonwealth Meteorologist H.A. Hunt proudly reported an increase in forecasting accuracy from 81.5 percent in 1908, to 89.1 percent in 1910.15 Such figures not only provided evidence of the growing expertise of the recently-established Bureau, but also reflected its value to the community. A decade later Hunt noted that ‘every important industry’ looked to the Bureau for ‘essential information’.16 Accurate forecasts could even save lives – deaths in the WA pearling fleet had dropped from 200 in 1887 to 40 in 1910.17 However, as Wragge wryly commented, the job of meteorologist was ‘not one altogether to be envied’: ‘for if 99 forecasts out of a hundred turn out correctly, and the last one fails, don’t they come down on us like a thousand of bricks’.18

When a deputation of fruitgrowers lobbied the Victorian Minister for Agriculture in 1935 for increased scientific assistance, the Minister took the opportunity to attack ‘meteorological scientists’ in ‘our expensive Weather Bureau’.19 The bureau had made a ‘glaring error’, he claimed, in failing to warn primary producers of an oncoming storm. ‘The bureau officials are not qualified men’, the Director of Agriculture Mr Mullett added helpfully, ‘they have no qualifications as have doctors and others’. Mullet’s criticism was not without substance, for at the time the Bureau’s staff included only four science graduates out of a total of nearly ninety.20 In the early years of the Bureau, meteorological workers were mostly trained on the job. It was only in the late 1930s that the Bureau instituted a specialised training program, and began systematically to recruit young science graduates. The meaning of ‘meteorologist’ changed in response to new demands and new knowledge, bringing increased scientific credibility and reinforcing public trust. By 1953, John Hogan of the Bureau’s Sydney office, could describe the meteorologist as ‘a science graduate of a university, with major work in physics and mathematics; after which he had a year’s training in theoretical and applied meteorology’.21

Changes in training were accompanied by improved methods of analysis and a greater emphasis on meteorological research. And yet, even as meteorology confirmed its ‘scientific’ status, its limits remained all too clear. Wragge blamed his his very occasional predictive errors on the fact that meteorology ‘is hardly yet what is termed “an exact science”‘.22 A 1934 article on ‘why forecasts fail’ made a similar admission, arguing that forecasts ‘must be regarded merely as expressions of probability’.23 For all its advances, meteorology seemed destined to remain a ‘confused science’ which, by the 1950s, had reached the ‘limit of forecasting accuracy’.24 Meteorologists were unable to indulge in the expansive rhetoric favoured by many scientists of alternate persuasions – their failures were just too obvious. Instead they faced the delicate task of managing public expectations, balancing the achievements of their science against the complexity of its subject matter.

The limitations of meteorology were revealed not just in the accuracy of forecasts, but in their length. For much of the twentieth century, the public clamoured for more from their meteorologists – what about next week, next month, next year? The prospect of seasonal or long-range predictions tantalised a nation dependent on rural industries. ‘The economic possibilities of a reliable forecast of droughts and years of plenty… are tremendous’, enthused Crosbie Morrison.25 But the promise could not be easily delivered. ‘All over the world, every effort is being made to find a means of making reliable seasonal forecasts’, explained the Commonwealth Meteorologist in 1934, ‘but so far without success’. The search for long-term climatic cycles ‘has been like the search for the philosopher’s stone’, he added.26

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Wragge was at the forefront of this quest. In the 1890s, he began to study the supposed climatic effects of planetary movements and sunspot cycles, using his research as the basis for a series of long-range forecasts.27 Wragge’s methods were developed by Inigo Jones, who was to become one of Australia’s best-known weather prophets.28

Sun spots were a popular and enduring candidate for those wishing to unravel the deeper mysteries of the weather.29 But others, such as adventurer and amateur climatologist Sir Hubert Wilkins, emphasised the role of the Antarctic in determining Australian conditions. A feature article in the Argus in 1938, argued that a knowledge of both sun spot and Antarctic cycles would allow meteorologists ‘to set a time-table for our weather’, bringing Australia ‘wealth and prosperity in boundless measure’. The current forecasting system was ‘scientific as far as it goes’, the article added, but ‘a meteorologist who is not also a very advanced astronomer cannot predict weather correctly’.30

While maintaining an interest in the possibilities of seasonal forecasting, the Weather Bureau was skeptical of most supposed climatic cycles. H. A. Hunt admitted that some showed ‘encouraging’ coincidences, but there comes a point, he argued, ‘where the bottom falls out of any theory’.31 Summing up after several decades of research, E. W. Timcke concluded in 1953: ‘No basis – scientific or otherwise -has yet been discovered on which forecasts for seasons in advance can be made with the required reliability and exactitude’. Moreover, he added, ‘even with unlimited research, manpower and finance, there was no certainty that the solution to long-range forecasting would be found’.32

But hope was not easily quashed, and Timcke’s pessimistic assessment was published alongside a commentary by Inigo Jones on planetary positions and the possibility of drought.33 Critical scientific assessments did little to dull popular interest in the pronouncements of the weather prophet. Of course, the accuracy of many long-range predictions was difficult to prove one way or the other. ‘The public’, H. A. Hunt remarked, ‘is always at the mercy of any theorist who chooses to quote statistics’.34 Timcke enviously noted the public’s tendency to forgive ‘the independent forecaster’, who was regarded ‘somewhat like a jockey… cheered when he wins and hooted when he loses, with no hard feelings afterwards’.35 Perhaps it was the lure of the long-shot?

Belief in the methods of Inigo Jones, and his successor Lennox Walker, was particularly strong amongst farmers and graziers, and political pressure was brought to bear on the Commonwealth for the support of their activities.36 Jones, the Senate was told in 1938, was a ‘wonderful patriot’, ‘held in the highest esteem by the big man and also the small man on the land’.37 And yet he had been met only with ‘official scepticism’ and ‘hostility’, his methods labeled ‘unscientific’ by some unknown bureaucratic functionary.38 Perhaps the public’s fondness for ‘unorthodox’ forecasters grew from the feeling that they were battlers, struggling not only with the mysteries of nature, but with an uncaring bureaucracy and a haughty scientific elite. Just as the Sydney Morning Herald‘s correspondent proffered his reading of the ‘portents’, we like to think that the signs are there for all to read. Despite the growing authority of meteorological science, we cling to our own ways of ‘knowing’ the weather – each our own weather prophet.

weather to order

‘For the man in the street the weather does not depend on climate or upon the weather bureau’, argued the Argus in 1918. Statements of mean temperatures or other such ‘scientific pronouncements’, it maintained, ‘are meaningless because they take no heed of the state of mind which some people bring to the weather’. What of the influence of the weather on our well-being, on the connection between temperature and temperament? On matters such as these, the editorial suggested, science remained ‘extremely ignorant’.39

In an era when even our cars come with ‘climate control’, we might think that the weather has little impact on our lives. But even beyond such vital questions as whether to take an umbrella when we go out, the weather shapes our daily experience in subtle and enduring ways. The writer of the Argus editorial believed that talking about the weather was a means of testing whether ‘our own particular temperament’ was ‘in tune with that of our neighbour’ – a symbolic language of sorts. Certainly the weather effects how we ‘feel’, how we interact with others, how we remember. Perhaps talking about the weather helps us to position our own lives and experiences within a broader landscape of significance – to chart our personal highs and lows, our storm fronts and our sunny spells.

Mr Henry Hodgson, aged 78, was in no doubt: ‘I say emphatically that the climate has changed, especially the summers’. ‘You can do anything with statistics’, he continued, ‘but no statistics will convince me that the climate has not changed radically’.40 The summers of Mr Hodgson’s youth were hotter, with more thunderstorms, but none of the cold, ‘wintry days’ of recent years. And Mr Hodgson was not alone. Despite assurances from the Weather Bureau, claims that the climate had changed were regularly reported and commonly believed. A series of headlines from a 1935 article summarised the debate: ‘”Winter not abnormal” – Cold comfort from the Weather Bureau – Officers blame psychology’.41 The Bureau’s Assistant Director, H. Barkley, argued that average temperatures were thoroughly normal. But ‘cloudy skies have a psychological effect’, he added, causing ‘the average citizen to place the mercury in thought much lower than it stands’.42

However, the main territory in dispute was that of memory. Responding to a similar outcry in 1950, John Hogan explained: ‘Old people who complain about changing climate, remember only the peak periods. Looking back over their lives, these periods of exceptional weather merge together like the telephone posts down a long road’.43 ‘Outstanding events’ are mistaken for ‘normal’. Moreover, suggested one meteorological authority, such preoccupations are ‘due to the fact that the attitude towards life, the amount of energy, and the daily occupations and responsibilities of old people are different from what they were when they were younger’.44 Were Mr Hodgson’s missing thunderstorms, merely forlorn reminders of lost vitality?

Memory is not an average of the past. The statistical transformation of weather into climate is one of the foundations of meteorology, but it is not something we directly experience. We cannot expect our weather memories to provide a reliable guide to climate change, but perhaps they do help us make sense of other changes in our lives and our world. In a similar way, the attraction of long-range forecasts may lie not in their accuracy, but in their certainty. Just as averages bear little relation to our remembered past, so probabilities are difficult to align with an imagined future. The long-range weather prophets, armed with their periods and cycles, made the future less threatening, more orderly. Nature did not act on a whim, it was running on a timetable.

There is, it seems, but a small step between imagining we could know the timetable of nature, and believing it possible to change it. The quest for knowledge and the desire for control were, as ever, closely entwined. In the second half of the nineteenth century, many were convinced that the Australian climate could be improved, either by cultivating the soil, or by planting trees. Severe droughts in the 1880s and ’90s diminished such optimism, but in its place grew the conviction that drought itself was the enemy of progress and must be vanquished. Wragge was not the only one who answered this call to arms, though he certainly had the biggest guns. Others, perhaps less well-motivated, also presented themselves as the saviours of a thirsty continent. Just like the long-range weather prophets, the would-be rainmakers offered Australians the chance to make their own destiny.

In 1903, Broken Hill rainmakers sought to open the clouds by means of a ‘vortical whirl’ of hydrogen, generated by adding zinc to open pots of sulphuric acid.45 Most experimenters, however, preferred blowing things up. Captain Meaburn, for example, fired a rocket directly into overhanging clouds, and was delighted when a torrential downpour followed, despite the fact that rain had already been predicted by the Bureau. Professor Pepper’s technique, on the other hand, involved ‘tapping the clouds’ with a huge kite loaded with explosives.46 ‘Despite many unsuccessful experiments’, the Argus noted, ‘the belief that heavy explosions and concussions will produce rain still lives’.47

The efforts of Mr J. B. Balsillie, an early radio experimenter, attracted particular attention. Balsillie proffered a more ‘scientific’ approach, and disapproved of the term ‘rain making’: ‘a phrase coined by persons of inferior mental calibre’.48 Instead he argued that rain could be ‘stimulated’ by electrical means, using a charged, metal-coated balloon connected to an x-ray tube.49 Balsillie claimed success for a series of experiments in the Mallee between 1915 and 1919, but an expert committee appointed by the government to investigate his technique was less sanguine. ‘Still the weather remains unconquered’, the Argus concluded in 1944, after surveying various rainmaking attempts: ‘The grim spectre of drought is one of the few enemies which man can see but cannot destroy… with all his scientific knowledge he is powerless to kill it’.50

Only three years later the mood had changed with news of US cloud seeding experiments. ‘Weather to order next?’ asked the Sydney Morning Herald.51 Australia was quick to follow the American lead, and in January 1947 there were reports of ‘secret experiments’ being carried out by the CSIR in cooperation with the RAAF.52 Soon it was confirmed that dry ice released into clouds from an RAAF Liberator had resulted in a brief shower of rain.53 Experiments were in their early stages, the scientists stressed repeatedly as the cloud-seeding program continued, but the growing sense of excitement and expectation was difficult to suppress.

At the end of the war, CSIR’s Division of Radiophysics had switched from developing radar systems to investigating the physics of clouds. These were the new rainmakers. Publicity surrounding their adventures in the clouds helped consolidate CSIR/O’s position at the heart of Australia’s nation-building enterprise. In 1955, Richard Casey summarised the achievements of the division, inspired by the ‘genius’ of its leader, E. G. Bowen. Casey proclaimed that the Australian program was ‘in the forefront of research into weather modification’. ‘Within a certain time’, he added, ‘it will probably be possible to amend the weather pattern in Australia during periods when suitable clouds exist’.54 As the researchers prepared for a large-scale experimental program in the Snowy Mountains, the Sydney Morning Herald wondered, ‘Is this the year of the pay-off?’. If the tests succeeded, the article concluded, ‘then 1957 may go down in history, not as the year of the A-bomb, the H-bomb or the guided missile, but as the year Australia gave rainmaking to the world’.55

An age-old dream was resurrected amidst a new age of optimism. The recent achievements of science made it seem as if the weather might at last submit to the will of humankind. Edward Teller, not content with giving the world the hydrogen bomb, predicted ‘scientific control of the weather’ within 10 years. ‘Once the laws are known’, he argued, ‘it will be possible to influence the weather’.56 The Bureau of Meteorology was rather more cautious in it pronouncements, and was at times concerned by claims attributed to the CSIRO rainmakers. Nonetheless, it was not immune to the swelling sense of power. Speaking on the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Meteorological service, its Director, L.J. Dwyer, spoke of the possibility of ‘tailoring’ the weather. Cyclones might be broken up, he suggested, droughts and floods prevented: ‘The control of the weather will come in the future when meteorology develops to the stage where engineering can be used’.57

But with this feeling of power came uneasiness. Already there was concern that ‘freakish’ weather might be attributable to atomic tests. ‘Every time an atom-bomb goes off, people get “weather conscious”‘, noted the Sydney Morning Herald in 1956.58 Moreover, if the weather could be controlled, then surely it too could be used as a weapon. Reports, emanating from a US Presidential committee investigating weather control, warned of the ‘ominous threat’ that the Russians might ‘launch a vast program to change the world patterns of rainfall’.59 Tucked amongst the alarmist prophesies and cold war paranoia, however, was an admission that the climate might already be changing. Pointing to the rapidly increasing levels of carbon dioxide, the scientists suggested that ‘there has been a general warming of the earth’s atmosphere by vehicle exhausts and industrial pollutants’.60 The greenhouse effect.

Even as dreams of controlling the weather have faded, we have, it seems, finally worked out how to modify the climate. It’s easy, we’ve been doing it for years. But our reluctant acceptance of the reality of climate change offers little consolation to Mr Hodgson. The greenhouse effect is still something we know through statistics rather than direct experience. We can’t feel it, and yet these tiny, cumulative changes, beyond casual perception, might drastically alter the way we live, in this and coming centuries. The power to modify the climate has not brought us certainty. It has not delivered us mastery over nature. Instead we face the future with new doubts and fears, wondering, as always, about the coming change in the weather.

the long-range outlook

In April 1999, a hailstorm hit Sydney, its ferocity taking everyone by surprise. As the cleanup began, and the estimated repair bill climbed into the billions, the Weather Bureau was targeted for criticism. Why weren’t the public warned? ‘Yes, it is a strange fact’, Wragge commented nearly a century earlier, ‘that any single failure forms a rich subject for that cynical sarcasm and delicate irony on the part of the exceptional few who do not know the difference between an isobar and an isothermal line’.61 As the accuracy of forecasts has improved, so public expectations have increased. Failures may be fewer, but criticism is perhaps more intense. Uncomfortable still with our vulnerability to the whims of nature, we look for humans to blame. ”Tis human nature’, sayeth Wragge, ‘and so ’twill be till the end’.62

Meteorology is not an ‘exact science’, nor, despite Wragge’s earnest hopes, will it ever be. Responding to criticism over the Sydney hailstorm, the Bureau argued that complete accuracy was impossible ‘because of the inherently chaotic nature of atmospheric and oceanic’ conditions.63 As the science of meteorology has developed, so has an understanding of its limits. The complexity of natural systems is such as to deny reduction to a simple set of laws. Seeking certainty, we have instead found chaos.

We have no timetable for the weather, but our nightly bulletins do offer forecasts for the coming few days. We cannot be certain when the next drought will hit, but an understanding of El Niño enables us to monitor the likelihood of reduced rainfall. Improved modelling techniques, greater computing power, and increased knowledge of the interaction between ocean and atmosphere, all offer the hope of further improvement. But there will always be surprises.

Wragge would perhaps be disappointed in the progress of his science, and would no doubt claim to be able to do better himself. And yet, as we begin to grapple with the long-term implications of climate change, Wragge would at least have the satisfaction of seeing meteorology at the heart of debates about our global future. Who would have forecast that?

FEDERATION AND METEOROLOGY »

  1. Brisbane Courier, 27 September 1902, p.5. []
  2. Ibid.; various versions of this story. []
  3. Clement L Wragge, ‘The Stiger Vortex’, Wragge’s Australasian Almanac and Weather Guide, Brisbane, 1902, p. 183. []
  4. The Brisbane Courier provided regular updates on the ‘Stiger Vortex fund’, see for example, 16 September 1902, p. 4; Brisbane Courier, 16 September 1902, p. 6. []
  5. Brisbane Courier, 29 September 1902, p. 5. []
  6. Clement l Wragge, ‘A day with the weather clerk’, Wragge’s Australasian Almanac and Weather Guide, Brisbane, 1902, p. 261. For intercolonial rivalries see Home and Livingston. []
  7. Clement L Wragge, ‘Suggestions for the establishment of a Federal Weather Burea for the Commonwealth of Australia’, Pastoralists’ Review, vol. 11, no. 3, 15 May 1901, pp. 167-9. []
  8. H.H. Sprigg to Editor, Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 19 April 1946, p. 2. []
  9. B.W. Newman to Editor, SMH, 24 April 1946, p. 2. []
  10. Geoffrey Blainey, A land half won, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1980, pp. 10-12. []
  11. Alec H. Chisholm, ‘”Twill surely rain – How nature “forecasts” in Australia’, Argus, 28 April 1934, p. 8. []
  12. Wragge, ‘A day with the weather clerk’, p. 261. []
  13. CPD, vol. 7, 20 May 1902, p. 12662. []
  14. Home and Livingstone, p. ? []
  15. Argus, 2 February 1911, p. 7. []
  16. Argus, 28 September 1922, p. 8. []
  17. Argus, 14 June 1923, p. 11. []
  18. Wragge, ‘A day with the weather clerk’, p. 261. []
  19. Argus, 11 July 1935, p. 11. []
  20. Gardner, Stormy Weather []
  21. John Hogan, ‘This tricky task of weather forecasting’, SMH, 29 May 1953, p. 2. []
  22. Wragge, ‘A day with the weather clerk’, p. 261. []
  23. Argus, 17 July 1934, p. 6. []
  24. B.W. Newman to Editor, SMH, 24 April 1946, p. 2; John Hogan to Editor, SMH, 14 May 1953, p. 2; John Hogan, ‘This tricky task of weather forecasting’. []
  25. Crosbie Morrison, ‘Odds on the weather – Polar research and long-range forecasts’, Argus, 3 September 1932, p. 4. []
  26. Argus, 5 June 1934, p. 6. []
  27. ADB, Gibbs []
  28. ADB, Walker []
  29. For example: Argus, 1 March 1919, p. 5; Argus, 1 June 1934, p. 8; Argus, 19 January 1937, p. 8; Argus, 29 October 1938, Weekend Magazine, p. 8-9; Sun-Herald, 16 September 1956, p. 23 []
  30. Walter Jago, ‘We may soon foretell the weather for years ahead’, Argus, 29 October 1938, Weekend Magazine, pp. 8-9. []
  31. Argus, 7 April 1923, p. 8. []
  32. SMH, 3 May 1953, p. 2. []
  33. Ibid. []
  34. Argus, 18 May 1912, p. 19 []
  35. SMH, 3 May 1953, p. 2. []
  36. Walker? []
  37. CPD, vol. 156, 30 June 1938, p. 2903; CPD, vol. 157, 13 October 1938, p.750. []
  38. CPD, vol. 157, 13 October 1938, p.750; CPD, vol. 158, 30 November 1938, pp.2275-6. []
  39. Argus, 27 July 1918, p. 16. []
  40. Argus, 29 December 1928, p. 15. []
  41. Argus, 3 August 1935, p. 21. []
  42. Ibid. []
  43. SMH, 1 July 1950, p. 2. []
  44. Argus, 27 July 1918, p. 16. []
  45. Rupert S. Charlett, ‘Will man ever control the weather or the rain?’, Argus, 4 February 1939, Weekend magazine, p. 9. []
  46. ‘Man cannot yet cause rain – But Australia has seen some interesting experiments in the past’, Argus, 9 December 1944, Weekend Magazine, p. 2. []
  47. Ibid. []
  48. Argus, 18 March 1920, p. 7. []
  49. Charlett, ‘Will man ever control the weather or the rain?’, p. 9. []
  50. ‘Man cannot yet cause rain’, p. 2. []
  51. Douglas Liversidge, ‘Weather to order next?’, SMH, 23 January 1947, p. 9. []
  52. SMH, 25 January 1947, p. 1. []
  53. SMH, 12 February 1947, p. 3. []
  54. CPD, vol. HofR 6, 31 May 1955, p.1221. []
  55. David Burke, ‘Rain – Is this the year of the pay-off?’, Sun-Herald, 12 May 1957, p. 27. []
  56. SMH, 13 August 1955, p. 3. []
  57. SMH, 6 January 1958, p. 5; see also, ‘Science versus cyclone’, Sun-Herald, 16 December 1956, p. 30. []
  58. ‘So the weather’s been odd! Well, those A-bombs…’, SMH, 11 July 1956, p. 2. []
  59. SMH, 1 January 1958, p. 2. []
  60. Ibid. []
  61. Wragge, ‘A day with the weather clerk’, p. 261. []
  62. Ibid. []
  63. SMH, 23 December 1999. []

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Tim Sherratt Written by:

I'm a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections.

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