In his new book, The Forecast for D-day: And the Weatherman behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble (Lyons Press, April, 2014), John Ross does a masterful job of telling a story long overdue.
It’s a story describing how James Martin Stagg, technically not even a meteorologist, provided the final forecast that caused Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Allied Expeditionary Force to decide to “embark on the great crusade” on June 6, 1944. Previously, the only weather forecasts Stagg had prepared were in Iraq, a very sore point with some of his colleagues. Stagg died in 1975.
With its timely publication leading up to the 70th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, Normandy invasion, the book tells a compelling tale of the furious behind-the-scenes debate that raged within Allied Command: Should the greatest land, sea, and air invasion of all-time be launched on the originally scheduled date of June 5, 1944–or should it be the next day? It all depended on whose weather forecast was to be believed, because the relatively calm, pleasant weather during the month of May was about to change.
One team of meteorologists, led by Irving P. Krick, one of the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) forecasters, relied heavily on analog forecasts from the past, but it was Stagg, the strong-willed Scotsman, whose forecast would be used and would carry the day. For many years afterward, however, Krick tried to take the credit.
Interwoven with all of the drama associated with Stagg’s forecast, the book includes a fascinating series of what-ifs. Ross speculates about some of the draconian results that might have ensued if there were a catastrophic failure of, or delay in, the invasion, code-named Operation Overlord.
More of my interview with Mr. Ross about his decision to write The Forecast here: http://wapo.st/1jZUtA0
– Don Lipman