How A Single Weather Forecast Aided In Saving D-Day

Source: AccuWeather

D-Day was the day where around 160,000 allied forces troops landed in Nazi-occupied France. Several factors were taken into consideration while planning this invasion. Landing on the beaches of Normandy wasn’t an easy task; the allied forces had to make massive efforts for the intrusion of Europe. The air, naval, and land attacks required a calm situation of the air, sea, and land respectively. The air attack required a clear sky and no stormy weather while the naval attack required a calm sea. The land troops needed a low tide where German points were easier to attack. Thus, D-day needed a perfect combination of these factors for allied troops to succeed.

Allied Troops and Meteorologists Went Hand in Hand

Source: AMS Journals

Allied forces troops and the military planners were in direct contact with the meteorologists and experts who suggested to them that D-Day should fall between 5 to 7 June because of the weather situation on those days. The final date for D-day was set to be June 5, 1944, by the Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower. For the massive amphibious invasion, this date was selected because this was one of those days where the tide was predicted low for land troops to land easily and the moon was bright enough to let air gliders operate effectively.

This prediction wasn’t enough; the naval troops needed calm seas too. The British Royal Navy and U.S. Army Air Corps had to predict the weather, together. This was the time when there were no weather radars or satellites to predict the weather. Meteorologists from U.S. Army Air Corps used a certain forecasting method and predicted fair and clear weather on June 5. However, the British Naval army used a different approach to predict weather which was based on analysing humidity, temperature, and pressure to figure out the weather. The British team had a different prediction and they predicted stormy weather with low clouds on June 5. Captain James Martin Stagg, a meteorologist asked allied troops to delay the invasion.

German Meteorologists Predicted That Allied Forces Would Not Attack Them

Meanwhile, German meteorologists predicted the same weather. They forecasted strong winds on June 5 and this assured them that the Allied troops will not attack them considering such weather conditions. The German troops even allowed some of their soldiers to leave their posts on the coast and join games in Rennes. German Marshall Erwin Rommel even went back to Germany for his wife’s birthday.

Later on June 4, scientists from the allied forces brought forward new predictions and concluded that there can be a break from storms on June 6. The meteorologists claimed that the weather on June 6 would be fair enough for the Allied troops to make an invasion workable.

Raised Difficulty For The Naval and The Air Allied Forces

Source: AMS Journals

On June 6, when the paratroopers landed behind the enemy fronts at midnight and when the Allied boats started to crowd at the seashores at dawn, the weather wasn’t ideal enough. This created difficulty for the naval and the air allied forces but by the afternoon, the sky was clear and the weather was fair enough. The Germans, in the meantime, were not ready for an invasion. This gave the allied forces to have a strong foothold in France which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Before the invasion, Military planners of the Allied forces examined more than a million aerial images of the beaches of Normandy to find the best suitable location for the landing. This signifies the role of meteorologists in planning the massive amphibious invasion. If it weren’t for the meteorologists from the U.S. Air army corps and the British Naval Army, the war would have gone to a different angle.

Weather forecast played a critical role in delaying the planned invasion of June 5 and delayed it to June 6. Meanwhile, the German meteorologists were not skilled enough to predict a break in the storms on June 6 which led to the success of the troops of the Allied forces. Years later after the war, President John F. Kennedy asked Eisenhower, Allied Supreme Commander, the reason behind the success of the battle of Normandy. Eisenhower proudly claimed that the Allied Armed forces had better meteorologists than the Germans.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store