National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Long before the Federal Government started the federal program of taking and recording weather observations, a gentleman by the name of Dr. George Engelmann took temperature and precipitation observations at the observatory at 2nd and Chestnut Street in St. Louis. Some of his recorded observations were made part of the St. Louis weather records even though they are not considered "official".

February 9, 1870

President Ulysses S. Grant signed a joint resolution of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to establish a national weather service. The resolution required the Secretary of War... “to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories... and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms.”

October 12, 1870

Weather office officially established at 210 Olive Street in downtown St. Louis, under the jurisdiction of the Army Signal Corps.

Corner of 6th and Locust

March 1873

The office moved to the corner of 6th Street and Locust in St. Louis, a move of 1300 feet.

The Custom House

September 1883

The office moved to the Custom House, located at 8th Street and Olive. This building was also known as "The Old Post Office".


Congress passed the Organic Act, establishing the U.S. Weather Bureau as a civilian agency under the Department of Agriculture.

May 27, 1896

A large and extremely destructive tornado struck the St. Louis metropolitan area causing widespread damage and the loss of over 400 lives. Read the account and see the accompanying pictures on NOAA's History Page.

The Chemical Building in St. Louis

August 1903

Weather Bureau Office (WBO) moved 250 feet east into the Chemical Building, 8th and Olive Streets.

The Railway Exchange Building in St. louis

September 1913

The office was moved a mere 300 feet east into the former Railway Exchange Building.

July 1929

With an upsurge of air travel and shipping, the Weather Bureau Airport Station (WBAS) was established for observations at Lambert Field, 15 miles northwest of the downtown office, which continued concurrent observations.

The old Court House

November 1935

The downtown Weather Bureau Office (WBO) was moved to the Courthouse on 12th and Market Street.

Teletype Machine


The first teletype machines are installed, greatly improving communications.

June 1940

The Weather Bureau transfers to the Department of Commerce.

Women in the Weather Bureau


The Weather Bureau hired many women during the war years that served the offices as communicators and observers. This picture was taken on the roof of the Administration Building at Lambert Field.

Click to see the full image
A poster commerating the women that served the Weather Bureau during World War II. You can click on the small picture to view the full image.

June 1955 – July 1960

WSR-1 weather radar operational at airport office.

Administration Building at Lambert Field

July 1958

The downtown Weather Bureau Office St. Louis closed and all activities consolidated with the airport office in the Administration Building at Lambert Field. Note the WSR-1 radar dome on the roof and the shelter and rain gage in the foreground.

July 1960

WSR-57 radar operational at Lambert Field office.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was established. The U.S. Weather Bureau was renamed National Weather Service (NWS) and became part of NOAA, under the Department of Commerce.

January 1972

Weather Radio station KDO-89 was installed in St. Louis. Today WFO St. Louis operates 10 NOAA Weather Radio transmitters throughout the forecast area.

NWS at Mexico Road

October 1974

Forecast office moved from Lambert International Airport to 4100 Mexico Road, St. Peters, MO, 15 miles NW of the airport. WSR-57 radar also relocated. All the other weather instruments remained at Lambert as the official observation site.


Automation of Field Operations and Services (AFOS) installed with enhanced forecast, warning and communications capabilities. Teletype and weather facsimile machines phased out.

NWS in Weldon Spring

September 1990

Forecast and warning operations moved 8 miles SW into a new building in the Missouri Research Park in Weldon Spring. Some staff remained at the St. Peters office to take WSR-57 radar observations. The WSR-57 was decommissioned in 1994 and remaining staff relocated to the new office.

The WSR-88D Radar Tower

January 1992

Began use of the advanced WSR-88D Doppler radar – the 6th 88D installed in a new national network. The WSR-88D Radar in St. Louis was commissioned in July 1994.

The ASOS sensor group

June 1996

Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) commissioned at Lambert International Airport. Today WFO St. Louis maintains ASOS systems at seven airports in the forecast area.

July 1999

NOAA Weather Radio Console Replacement System (CRS) was commissioned at the St. Louis Office. CRS allowed computer voice and automation capabilities.

Typical AWIPS workgroup configuration

June 2000

New state-of-the-art forecasting system commissioned. The Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) allows assimilation of radar, satellite, surface and upper air observations, and computer model guidance into one workstation. The older AFOS system decommissioned.

More links to NOAA's past...