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Lucy Stowe - Weather Observer
The US Weather Bureau Station on Hatteras Island was quickly adopted as part of the Hatteras lineage history. The names of many Hatteras Island families who worked for the U.S. Weather Bureau - Gaskin, Gray, Oden, Stowe - are found throughout the archived logs and ledgers that chronicle the Hatteras Weather Station operations.
Of all the employees who have worked in weather operations on Hatteras Island, only Lucy Stowe worked at all three weather station locations. Lucy was hired in 1943 as a Junior Weather Observer for the Hatteras Station. She was 18 years old.
In the early 1940s, Weather Bureau office staffs were comprised entirely of men. In 1941, only two women were listed in the observer and forecaster ranks. This staffing ratio was changed dramatically during World War II. By 1945, over 900 women were working as Weather Bureau observers and forecasters, filling positions vacated by men called to duty. For many of the women, this was temporary war-time employment. For some, like Lucy, it was a career.
Lucy’s career track started in a one-room Hatteras weather office in a Victorian-style wooden structure with a few tables, a teletype and basic weather instruments. She retired in 1980 from a “storm-proof” reinforced concrete weather building in Buxton complete with weather radar, computerized instrumentation and data networking, and from a service that made forecasts using weather satellites and computerized numeric models.
Lucy, like other local weather employees, could be recognized throughout the Island just by her voice after years of NOAA weather radio broadcasting.
Although the National Weather Service no longer staffs an office on Hatteras Island, locals still stay closely tuned to NOAA advisories and warnings. Weather can turn quickly here, and as Lucy says, “This is a weather breeding area.”
Did You Know?
When the Home sank on Diamond Shoals off of Cape Hatteras in 1837, there were only two life jackets for all 130 people on board. Ninety people died.
Congress passed the Steamboat Act the next year, requiring all vessels to carry one life jacket per passenger.