The Forecast for D-day

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ForecastDDayLyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, is proud to announce the April 15, 2014, release of THE FORECAST FOR D-DAY: And the Weatherman behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble, by John Ross (978-0-7627-8666-3; $24.95 hardcover), the never-before-told story of the decision that saved D-day, commemorating the 70th anniversary of that day: June 6, 1944.

Monday, June 5, 1944, had long been planned for launching D-day, the start of the campaign to liberate Nazi-held Western Europe. Yet the fine weather leading up to the greatest invasion the world would ever see was deteriorating rapidly. Would it hold long enough for the bombers, the massed armada, and the soldiers to secure the beachheads in Normandy? That was the question, and it was up to Ike’s chief meteorologist, James Martin Stagg, to give him the answer.

On the night of June 4, the weather hung on a knife’s edge. The three weather bureaus advising Stagg—the U.S. Army Air Force, the Royal Navy, and the British Met Office—each provided differing forecasts. Worse, leading meteorologists in the USAAF and Met Office argued stormily. Stagg had only one chance to get it right. Were he wrong, thousands of men would perish, secrecy about when and where the Allies would land would be lost, victory in Europe would be delayed for a year, and the Communists might well have taken control of the continent.

THE FORECAST FOR D-DAY takes readers into the Arctic night to battle German meteorologists, onto British frigates for the capture of Enigma codes that led to the defeat of German U-boats in the North Atlantic, out to Blacksod Point where by secret treaty neutral Ireland’s weather service provided observations essential for Ike’s decision to go, and into Ike’s advanced headquarters where Stagg and Yates (his deputy) knew that their forecast alone would be responsible for the initial success or failure of D-day. Inside you’ll discover:

  • A geophysicist at heart, Stagg’s selection as SHAEF’s chief meteorologist was opposed by virtually all other weathermen.  Though an employee of the Met Office for 20 years, his only first-hand forecasting experience was two years in the desert of Iraq.
  • US Army Air Force weathermen were adamant that D-day be launched on the night of June 4.  Had it been, heavy seas, high wind, and thick cloud would have caused the invasion to fail.
  • THE FORECAST is more than a story of weather and war.  It’s the story of the men and women who prepared the forecast, their personal and professional conflicts that raged like the storms racing across the North Atlantic, and their loves that calmed them like fair weather.

John Ross is the author of magazine articles and books on trout fishing. His first edition of Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams (Globe Pequot Press) earned a National Outdoor Book Award. It was about that time that Ross began to focus on the story behind the story of D-day—in the vein of Isaac’s Storm and The Map That Changed the World. The son of a World War II Air Corps pilot instructor, Ross grew up on a diet of U.S. military history. He knew that Eisenhower postponed the D-day invasion of Normandy for 24 hours because of the weather. But given the state of meteorology in the 1940s—before satellites, weather radar, and instant communications—he wondered how Ike knew to order the delay. Over the last decade he interviewed men and women who participated in making that important weather forecast and scoured archives in England and the United States for historic documentation.

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