Storm warning signs, 1863.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate from 'The Weather Book', published in 1863 by Admiral Robert Fitzroy (1805-1865). Fitzroy was an English naval officer and meteorologist, who captained the 'Beagle' during Darwin's voyages. He was made the first head of what was to become the Meteorological Office in 1853 and introduced the first published daily weather forecasts in 'The Times' in 1860. Fitzroy devised this series of signals so that they could be hoisted above a harbour to warn shipping of imminent storms before they set out. The warnings would be telegraphed to the harbour master from the new Meteorological Office of the Board of Trade. Fitzroy's system was the precursor of the modern shipping forecast broadcast on the radio.