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.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...