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2 early presidents were avid weather observers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Presidents Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated every third Monday of February. In its honor Monday, let’s look back at some key Founding Fathers who had an interest in the weather.

The nation’s first president, George Washington, was fascinated with the weather likely stemming back from his days as a farmer. He had limited equipment in Mount Vernon, including his signature weathervane and a thermometer. The last weather entry Washington made in his diary was the day before he died.

Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president (1801-1809), took up regular weather observations from the years 1772-1778 at his Monticello home. Of course, Jefferson played a huge role in the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In days prior, Jefferson purchased a thermometer and barometer from a local merchant in Philadelphia. On July 4, 1776, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, Jefferson noted a high temperature of 76 degrees in Philadelphia.

Basic weather instruments had been around for over a hundred years when these two Founding Fathers were using them. Advancements in meteorology really came in the 1800s when the telegraph was invented. This allowed long-distance points and data to be collected in a much quicker fashion. Weather networks were soon established.