D-Day: Weather posed threat to success of 'Overlord'
Thursday 02 June 1994
One of the key figures at Allied headquarters was Captain Jim Stagg, a Scotsman who was the chief meteorological officer to General Eisenhower, the Allied commander. Senior officers awaited his forecasts with bated breath.
The Allies had selected early June for Operation Overlord because records showed that the weather was most likely to be fine then. But 1944 defied statistics and a series of depressions more typical of midwinter swept across the North Atlantic.
The ideal conditions for a successful invasion were several days of reasonable weather, light winds, calm seas, broken cloud no lower than 1,000ft and visibility of at least three to five miles. This would enable the huge fleet to cross and land safely with close air support.
Getting predictions right was not easy for Stagg. Weather forecasting was not a highly developed science and during the crucial days in early June there were gaps in the information received.
However, the Germans were worse off; they could do little more than look out of the window. Enemy weather stations in Iceland, Greenland, and Spitzbergen had been seized and the Allies had a much wider area to take readings from.
D-Day was originally scheduled for 5 June but two days before, Stagg gave a gloomy briefing to Allied commanders. He feared that a ridge of high pressure was moving south, leaving the Channel more vulnerable to Atlantic depressions.
His next briefing was even more pessimistic and convinced Eisenhower to overrule his army commander, General Sir Bernard Montgomery, and postpone Overlord for 24 hours. Warships were recalled and troops on cramped landing craft faced extended misery.
But when the weathermen and the commanders next met, Stagg said that there would be an interlude of a day between depressions. The gap was agonisingly narrow, Eisenhower knew that if he postponed Overlord, conditions would not be favourable again until 19 June.
It was as well that Eisenhower did go on 6 June. On 19 June, the longest summer Channel storm for decades began. In three days it caused five times as much damage to Allied shipping as the Germans had been able to inflict since the invasion.
Had D-Day been delayed again it could have been an absolute disaster.
Saint Patrick's Day parade boycotted by Boston's Mayor Marty Walsh over LGBT float exclusion
Saint Patrick's Day: Google Doodle marks patron saint of Ireland - here are 10 things you didn't know about the man
Saint Patrick's Day: 15 famous people you never knew were Irish
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Did jetliner fly into area controlled by Taliban? Net widens after claims final satellite signal could have been sent from the ground
Nasa-funded study warns of ‘collapse of civilisation’ in coming decades
Ukip and Nigel Farage on course for remarkable victory in European elections
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Britain’s five richest families worth as much as poorest 20 per cent, says Oxfam
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex
- 3 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Did jetliner fly into area controlled by Taliban? Net widens after claims final satellite signal could have been sent from the ground
- 4 Nasa-funded study warns of ‘collapse of civilisation’ in coming decades
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client operates within the healthcare...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a tech start up within the ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are currently seeki...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education Cardiff are current...