Weather on D-Day: A forecast that changed history - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Weather on D-Day: A forecast that changed history

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Troops crouch inside a LCVP landing craft, just before landing on Omaha Beach. |  U.S. Coast Guard Collection Troops crouch inside a LCVP landing craft, just before landing on Omaha Beach. | U.S. Coast Guard Collection
  • Weather on D-Day: A forecast that changed historyMore>>

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    Timeline: How D-Day unfolded 70 years ago

    Thursday, June 5 2014 10:58 PM EDT2014-06-06 02:58:18 GMT
    It's been 70 years since the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France. On June 6, 1944, over 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches with the goal of freeing Europe from the hold of Nazi Germany.  See a timeline of events here, and follow us @fox5newsdc on Twitter for tweets in real time on Friday.
    It's been 70 years since the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France. On June 6, 1944, over 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches with the goal of freeing Europe from the hold of Nazi Germany.  See a timeline of events here, and follow us @fox5newsdc on Twitter for tweets in real time on Friday.
  • D-Day relics: Inside the vaults that are home to history

    D-Day relics: Inside the vaults that are home to history

    Thursday, June 5 2014 10:39 PM EDT2014-06-06 02:39:29 GMT
    It's one thing to hear about how much equipment a D-Day paratrooper had to carry, but it's quite another to actually hold it in your hands. The U.S. Army agreed to open its vaults to give FOX 5 a first-hand look at the actual artifacts used during the D-Day invasion-- which have been under lock and key since 1944.
    It's one thing to hear about how much equipment a D-Day paratrooper had to carry, but it's quite another to actually hold it in your hands. The U.S. Army agreed to open its vaults to give FOX 5 a first-hand look at the actual artifacts used during the D-Day invasion-- which have been under lock and key since 1944.
It just may be the most important weather forecast the world has ever seen. The conditions for D-Day were critical to the success of the invasion. In fact, President Eisenhower, when asked why it had been so successful, responded, "We had better meteorologists than the Germans."

I first reported on this forecast 20 years ago for the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Without the benefit of modern forecasting tools like satellite pictures and radar, it was a forecast that helped change the course of history.  I even found one of these meteorological heroes living in Silver Spring, Md.  Dr. Karl Johannessen was part of the team of meteorologists forecasting the weather for D-Day.  He remembered that storm well. 

The Allied troops needed a perfect combination of low tides in the English Channel and favorable weather to land at Normandy.  June 4-6 was the tide window-- but there was a hurricane-like storm wreaking havoc.

D-Day was supposed to happen on June 5, but the meteorologists said the storm made it a potential disaster.  If they couldn't invade on the 6th, it would have to wait two more weeks for low tide.

With the massive storm to the north, the team analyzed a weak area of high pressure west of Normandy that might offer a brief period of improved weather to launch the invasion.  It was a gutsy decision, but D-Day was a go based on that forecast.  

Given the massive storm, the Germans were taken completely by surprise, which was the turning point for the war.  

I have not been able to track down Karl Johannessen for an update, but there is a new book just published about Captain James Stagg, who led the team.  It's called the Forecast for D-Day. It truly changed the course of history.

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