National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

History of the
Wichita National Weather Service Office
(How Much do you Remember??)

Dec., 1879: Weather data and correspondence begin as the "Wichita Indian Agency." (Think Thomas Simpson is the person in charge)
June 13, 1888: Army Signal Corp established a Weather Office in Wichita, KS. First Official in Charge (OIC), Corporal Fred Johnson. First Office 1st and Market.
1891: Weather Bureau formed under the Department of Agriculture. Sergeant Fred Johnson left the Army to become the first OIC. (Think he remained in charge until around the turn of the century.)
Special Note: George T. Todd was the 2nd OIC followed by Richard A. Sullivan. Specific dates in the position unknown.
Sept 1, 1905 With the help of U. S. Congressman Charles F. Scott, a Weather Bureau Office becomes operational in Iola Kansas.  This office took daily observations which were then sent by telegraph to Chicago to help make forecasts. This station closed down in October of 1936.
Mar. 31, 1908: Weather Office moved to 111 E. Douglas
June 30, 1911: Grew from a one to three person staff. Office moved to the 10th floor of the Beacon Bldg. At 1st and Main.
Feb., 1925: S.P. Petersen assigned as the OIC.
Sep. 27, 1929: Began 24 hour per day operation. Staff grew to 6.
Jan. 25, 1930: Discussions began with the Wichita Park Board in establishing a Municipal Airport Weather Office.
Apr., 1, 1930: Wichita Municipal Airport Weather Office opened (current McConnell AFB location). Person in charge, Lloyd Stevens, salary $2,100.00/year. First airport observers; Jonathan Becker & John Glenn, salary $1,560.00/year. Also one city employee; Kenneth Matthews, salary $1,800.00/year. ** Pilot Balloons are sent at 5:30 am and pm each day. (Two Weather Bureau Offices in Wichita from 4/1/30 to 11/29/40.)
July 25, 1930: Martin Stubbs assigned as the OIC of the Downtown Office.
Aug. 30, 1930: Hershel Smith assigned as the OIC of the Municipal Airport Office.
Apr. 23, 1932: Downtown Office moved to the Post Office Bldg. at 3rd and Market.
Jun. 30, 1936: A. A. Justice assigned as the MIC of the Downtown Office.
June 30, 1940: Weather Bureau transfers to the Department of Commerce.
Nov. 29, 1940: Weather Offices consolidated and moved to the Municipal Airport (what is now McConnell AFB).
Jun. 2, 1942: Vic Phillips assigned as the MIC.
Apr. 1, 1947: WSR-1 Radar installed. The first Weather Bureau Office to have a weather radar (a converted World War II radar).
Dec. 1, 1953: Weather Office moved to new Municipal Airport (now Mid-Continent Airport). Office located about ½ north of the present Control Tower.
Jun. 5, 1956: WSR-3 Weather Surveillance Radar becomes operational.
Dec. 5, 1958: W. Gordon Wylie assigned as the MIC.
Jun. 22, 1960: WSR-57 Weather Surveillance Radar becomes operational. With this new radar the staff grows to 16 as 5 radar meteorologists were assigned to the station. They are Jack Allen, Max Griffith, Charlie Harris, Clarence Hill, and John Shockley. They also assume localized forecast and warning responsibility for 28 counties in south central and southeast Kansas.
July 13, 1965: Environmental Science Service Administration (ESSA) established in the Department of Commerce and the Weather Bureau becomes the "National Weather Service" under that office.
Jul., 1970: Ellis Pike assigned as the MIC.
October 3, 1970: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established in the Department of Commerce and the Weather Service moves into the organization.
Sep., 1973: Jack Hughes assigned as the MIC.
Jun., 1977: Max Griffith assigned as the MIC.
Aug. 5, 1978: Discontinue "On-Call" PIBAL (sending balloons up) responsibility
Jan. 1, 1979: AFOS (Automation of Field Operations and Services) System turned on. It computerizes how information is received and transmitted.
Mar., 1979: Wichita's NOAA Weather Radio is installed (KEC-59).
Jan. 7, 1980: NOAA Weather Radio at Erie, KS (WXK-95) to serve southeast Kansas is commissioned.
Dec. 10, 1981: Weather Office moved to 2204 S. Tyler Rd. (Next door to the current facility. Radar antenna tower moved from where the current Airport Hilton parking lot area is to just northeast of the new facility.)
March 1982 Office received a Unit Citation for exemplary performance prior and during the March 15th 1982 tornado outbreak across southeast Kansas
Jan., 1984: Phil Swain assigned as the MIC.
March 1990 Office received a Unit Citation for exemplary performance during the March 13th 1990 Hesston tornado
Jun. 12, 1990: Dick Elder assigned as the MIC. (Staff is now down to 12 people. No forecast responsibility and a 22 county warning area.)
Dec., 1991: Meteorological Technician, Don Eland, retires. To date served in the Wichita Weather Office longer than anyone (1959-1991).
April 1991 Office received a Unit Citation for the commendable service provided during the April 26th 1991 tornado outbreak.
Jan. 7, 1992: Weather Office moves to 2142 S. Tyler Rd.
Jan., 1992: New positions are brought on as we prepare to become a Forecast Office. This includes Warning Coordination Meteorologist - Steve Schurr, Science and Operations Officer - Mike Stewart, Service Hydrologist - Jeff Reese, Electronic Systems Analyst - Richard Majchrzak, and Data Acquisition Program Manager - Leo Ritter.
Oct. 13, 1992: WSR-88D radar is turned on.
Nov. 1, 1992: ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System) is commissioned at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.
Dec., 1992: Meteorologists are assigned to the office to interpret the new radar. They include Carol Christenson, Jeff Hedges, Paul Howerton, Vic Jenson, and John Ogren. Also obtain a secretary - Gloria Dill. Office staff is now 21.
February 1, 1994: Assumed Hydrological Service Area responsibility for the 26 counties of Central and Southeast Kansas that make up our County Warning Area.
Feb. 28, 1994: Take over responsibility of the Ellsworth, KS NOAA Weather Radio (WXK-92). Took this from the Concordia, KS NWS Office as they begin closing down. Also assumed warning responsibility for the 7 Central Kansas Counties.
Apr. 20, 1994: WSR-88D officially commissioned. Becomes the 6th Doppler radar in the NWS Radar Network.
Sep. 19, 1994: Assume Aviation Forecast responsibility for Wichita Mid-Continent, Hutchinson, Russell, Salina, and Chanute Airports.
May 15, 1995: Assumed the responsibility of overseeing the Cooperative Observer Program for our County Warning Area.
Jan. 7, 1996: Lead Meteorologists (5) come to Wichita bringing the total staff to 26. These include Kevin Darmofal, Paul Howerton, Phil Hysell, Greg Noonan, and Mike Urban.
Sep. 18, 1996: AWIPS (Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System) is turned on to replace AFOS.
Jan. 16, 1997: Assume full Forecast Office status with assumption of all public forecast products.
Nov. 13, 1998: Attain final Forecast Office staffing level of 23.
Aug., 1998: Begin using a computerized automated voice on NOAA Weather Radio. (Ran a "Name the Voice" Contest and he became "Chance R. Storm" for CRS (Console Replacement System)).
October 1998 Office received a Unit Citation for excellent performance during the late October/early November "Halloween Flood".
May 1999 Office awarded with a silver medal for "providing critical services which enhanced public safety during a prolonged period of severe weather and flooding on May 3-4, 1999.
Jan 12, 2000: Successfully completed our AWIPS Readiness Test and switched from AFOS to AWIPS. This took place on NOAA's 30th Birthday. We were the 34th NWS Office to convert to AWIPS.
Feb 4, 2000: The Console Replacement System (CRS) that provides the automated voice (Chance R. Storm) is officially commissioned.
Mar 8, 2000: Commissioned the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS). Wichita becomes the 19th NWS Office to have a commissioned AWIPS.
Mar 13, 2000: AFOS is turned off.
May 23, 2000: AFOS Officially Decommissioned
April 2000 Office awarded a silver medal for "providing accurate and timely weather warnings across southeast Kansas on April 19th, 2000." 
June 2, 2000: In a Ceremony at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, the Beaumont Weather Radio (WWH-22) was gifted to the National Weather Service from Butler County Emergency Management. James Lee Witt (Dir. of FEMA) was the guest speaker.
Oct. 4, 2000: In a Ceremony at the transmitter site (10S Abilene) the Abilene Weather Radio (WXL-71) was gifted to the National Weather Service from Saline County Emergency Management. (Programming for this radio is done from the NWSFO Topeka Office).
Nov. 16,2000: Began issuing routine 7 day Public Forecasts
Dec. 18, 2000: Began issuing routine 5 day Coded Cities Forecasts.
Sep. 14, 2004: Transmitted our first "Amber Alert" on our Weather Radios. This was for the abduction of Ashley Caldwell.
Dec. 1, 2004: Gridded "Digital" forecasts for Maximum and Minimum temperature, probability of precipitation and weather became official.
Mar. 1st 2006 Began as a test site for “Polygon” based warning versus the county based warning. This type warning became standard throughout the NWS beginning in 2008
Oct. 3rd, 2006 Implemented a Fire Weather Program for Kansas. This provided daily routine Fire Weather Forecasts for each county and a Red Flag Watch/Warning Program.
July 2007 Office received a Unit Citation for "providing timely and accurate flood warnings and life saving forecast information to southeast Kansas during the catastrophic flood event of June 28th - July 7th, 2007." 
Oct. 1st, 2007 Discontinued the Transcribed Weather Briefing (TWEB) product that gave aviation en-route forecasts.
Apr. 9th, 2008 Initiated the Grassland Fire Danger Product which provided graphical fire danger levels by county out through 7 days.
Apr. 18, 2008 Weather Radio Station WZ-2511 began operation from a Tower Facility 6 miles north of Sharon, Kansas, in extreme northeast Barber County. This weather radio was set-up to serve the Gypsum Hills area of southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma.
Nov. 6, 2008 Weather Radio Station KPS-511 began operation for a Tower Facility near Great Bend, Kansas in Barton County. This weather radio was set-up to serve that portion of Central Kansas.
Oct. 1, 2009 Suspended taking and transmitting Minutes of Sunshine.
Oct. 2, 2009 Michael (Joe) Rosner retired. Served as a Hydro-Meteorological Technician and Data Acquisition Program Leader. Worked at the Wichita Office for nearly 22 years.
Sep. 15, 2010 Thunderstorms produced large hail in a swath from Goddard (Sedgwick County) to Udall (northwest Cowley County). Near 119th St. West and Pawnee in southwest Wichita, a hailstone measuring 7.75 inches in diameter fell which established a State Record for the Largest Hailstone. The prior record was a 5.7 inch hailstone that fell in Coffeyville, KS (Montgomery County) on Sep. 3, 1970.
July 6-15, 2011 The Wichita WSR-88D Radar was upgraded with Dual-Polarization capabilities. This allowed to better determine the type of precipitation in a storm and the amount. Our installation was the third of its type on NWS Radars behind Phoenix, AZ and Moorehead City, NC.
April 24th 2012 Suzanne Fortin assigned as the MIC.
October 27th 2014 Upgraded to AWIPS-2 (Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System)
July 2016 Weather radio system known has CRS(Console Replacement System) was replaced by BMH(Broadcast Message Handler).  This meant there was no more stand-alone system that runs NOAA Weather Radio.  Instead BMH runs within the AWIPS infrastructure.
April 2017 Ken Cook assigned as MIC