US Weather Bureau on Hatteras Island, present day
US Weather Bureau

National Park Service

Quick Facts

Significance:
Hatteras Island Weather Bureau Employee
Date of Death:
November 21, 2008

Lucy Stowe, a descendant of the first Europeans to settle on Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands, was a pioneer for women in the National Weather Service. Of all employees who have worked in weather operations on Hatteras Island, only Stowe worked at all three locations.

In the early 1940s, Weather Bureau offices were comprised almost exclusively of men. In 1941, only two women were listed as observers or forecasters. U.S. involvement in World War II changed the dynamic; by 1945, over 900 women were working as Weather Bureau observers and forecasters, filling positions vacated by men who had gone to war.

In 1943, at age 18, Stowe was hired as a Junior Weather Observer for the Hatteras Station.

Stowe’s career began in a one-room weather office in a Victorian-style wooden structure with a few tables, a teletype, and basic weather-monitoring instruments. In 1980, she retired from a storm-proof reinforced concrete weather building in Buxton, complete with weather radar, computerized instrumentation, data networking, and a weather service that made forecasts using satellites and computerized numeric models.

Lucy Stowe, like other local weather employees, was recognized throughout Hatteras Island simply by her voice after decades of NOAA weather radio broadcasting. She died on November 21, 2008 at age 83.

Last updated: September 28, 2016