THE 86THANNIVERSARY OF HENDERSONVILLE WEATHER FORECASTS
February 1, 1927-2013
By WHKP News and Program Director Larry Freeman
For local “weather watchers”, today is a pretty notable day in our local history. It was on February 1st 1927 that Hendersonville residents had their very first daily weather forecast available to them.
Henderson County has had daily weather observations and temperatures and precipitation DATA kept faithfully by local volunteer observers going back to the last years of the 19th century. Men like Dr. Lucius Morse, Professor T.W. Valentine, Jimmy Fain, Kermit Edney, and later Al Hope all observed our local weather every day going back to our town’s earlier days.
In March of 1923, the local weather observer at that time and for so many years, Professor T.W. Valentine, persuaded the Hendersonville News to begin publishing regular reports of the daily weather DATA. Then four years later, on Tuesday February 1, 1927, the Times-News published Hendersonville’s first ever daily weather FORECAST. It was a simple and straight-forward forecast that read “Mostly fair tonight…and probably Wednesday.” The following day, Groundhog Day 1927, the local forecast became a bit more specific…it read “Mostly fair tonight and Thursday. Gentle to moderate west winds.” These brief, simple and direct forecasts, going back 86 years today, marked the very first time local people could READ and get a good idea what their weather would be…without having to rely only on the signs in the sky, the husks on the corn, or counting acorns and pine cones.
The man who made many of those earliest weather reports and data possible was Professor Valentine. He was a native of England, who graduated from Cambridge, then made his way to Australia, and eventually to Hendersonville. Like some other British folks, Professor Valentine became connected to the Bowman’s Bluff section of Henderson County on the banks of Big Willow Creek and the French Broad River. He also became a highly regarded teacher, for a great many years late in his life, at Hendersonville High School. In fact, local historians say Valentine lived, and took his daily observations of local weather, right across 8th Avenue from the school, in the house that stood, up until this winter, on the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and Buncombe Street. The house had been for sale for a long time, was recently torn down, and we realized just last week…it’s now only a vacant lot.
Hendersonville’s early weather observers believed in using every means available at the time to “get the word out” about our local weather. Another of the earliest local weather observers, R.R. Bell, persuaded city council to display weather SIGNAL FLAGS on the pole outside city hall, which was located on the east side of Main Street at the time between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. The weather signal flags flew at city hall from April of 1899 to 1903. By 1903, Professor Valentine was keeping track of the daily weather…and he got permission from city council to fly the weather flags in what he said was a much better and more visible location, in front of Vernon Few’s store on Main Street. As far as we can tell, no one knows now where that store was. Professor Valentine, by the way, and his wife are buried in Oakdale Cemetery beside the back driveway, directly across from the maintenance shed. And as we said, his house is now gone…and his weather observation spot for the town for so many decades, is now only a vacant lot.
So today…as a handful of us observe the 86th anniversary of weather forecasts tailored for Hendersonville…it seems appropriate to note, in this age of so many state-of-the-art weather devices and high-tech advances…that local weather forecasting and record keeping USED to be done the old fashioned way…faithfully, relentlessly, never missing a single day…no matter how bad the weather…by some of the best people in our local history that are now long gone.
And as Professsor Valentine’s house being town down this winter reminded us…time goes on, and even some of the most notable and historic contributions made by many of our best local people…are all TOO SOON forgotten.
As always...we invite your comments...on our comments.