Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Abbe, Cleveland

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ABBE, Cleveland, meteorologist, b. in New York city, 3 Dec, 1838. He was graduated at the New York free academy in 1857, taught mathematics in Trinity Latin school for a year, and then went to Michigan university, where he studied astronomy under Prof. Briinnow, and taught the higher mathematics in the scientific school. From 1860 to 1864 he lived at Cambridge, Mass., where Dr. B. A. Gould, the astronomer, assigned him the telegraphic longitude work of the U. S. coast survey. The years 1865-'60 he spent mainly at the Imperial observatory at Pulkova, near St.' Petersburg, Russia, as the guest of the resident staff of observers. After a short sojourn at Washington, he was chosen director of the Cincinnati observatory. This was in 1868, and he soon proposed an enlargement of the scope of the institution to include terrestrial physics so far as they relate to astronomy. Investigation of the subject led him to suggest that Cincinnati should be made the headquarters of meteorological observation for the United States, for the purpose of collecting and comparing telegraphic weather-reports from all parts of the land, and making deductions therefrom. The Cincinnati chamber of commerce saw the value of the suggestion, and accepted his proposition. Sept. 1, 1869, he began the publication of the "Weather Bulletin of the Cincinnati Observatory." Prior ta this time (1856) the Smithsonian Institution had used the telegraph for weather-forecasts, but these were not sent out for the benefit of the public at large. The favor with which the Cincinnati project was received was brought to the attention of congress through the efforts of H. E. Paine, M. C. (Wis.),, and H. L. Dawes (Mass.) [see House Bill 602, Dec. 19, 1869], and, by a joint resolution of 9 Feb., 1870, the secretary of war was directed to provide for taking meteorological observations at military posts. in the interior of the continent, and on the lakes and sea-coasts, with the design of giving warning of the approach and probable force of storms. In January, 1871, Gen. Albert J. Myer, chief of the army signal service, was directed to take charge of the new weather bureau, and he appointed Prof. Abbe his meteorologist, whose duty it was to prepare "probabilities" or storm warnings. Prof. Abbe became popularly known as "Old Probabilities," and under his direction the service soon reached the high degree of efficiency that it has since maintained. For about one year, or until competent assistants could be trained. Prof. Abbe in person did the work of collating and tabulating, which had to be done three times a day. The publication of the " Monthly Weather Review " and the " Bulletin of International Simultaneous Observations " was begun under his supervision. His publications, astronomical and meteorological, are very numerous, and his contributions to current periodicals, cyclopaedias, and books of reference are well known to astronomers.