Geek Trivia

During World War II, Which Of The Following Items Was Heavily Censored?

Postal Delivery Routes
Sports Scores
Farmers Almanacs
Weather Reports
What Soda Originally Came Packed With A Natural Mood-Stabilizing Drug?

Answer: Weather Reports

During World War II, many things were censored in a bid to keep information out of the hands of U.S. enemies, as well as hinder their ability to communicate with each other. Much of the censored information was obvious and practical stuff, such as the press not reporting on the movements of the President until after the fact. Some of the censoring was cloak and dagger stuff—radio stations stopped taking song requests (for specific times) or lost & found announcements for fear that such things could be used as a coded means of communications. You might be surprised, however, to find out that weather reports were among the heavily censored information sources during the war.

The argument was that U.S. weather forecasting was both pretty accurate and widely available thanks to wide dissemination on the radio, and that foreign agents could easily pick up the broadcasts and use our own efficient weather reporting against us. In light of that, the Office of Censorship oversaw what could and could not be provided in a weather report. During the war, any information that could be used by the enemy to plan an attack (like atmospheric data or information about tides and currents) was censored, and everything but the most basic weather reports had to be approved by the Weather Bureau.

To give you an idea of how strict adherence to weather censorship rules was, on August 28, 1942, fog rolling in off Lake Michigan made a Chicago Bears charity game so difficult to report on that radio announcers sitting high above the field in the press booths couldn’t even see the field. Yet, despite that, they pressed on reporting on the game the best that they could without talking about the weather. In fact, the play-by-play announcer Bob Elson, reporting for station WGN, actually received a thank you letter from the Chief of the Weather Bureau, commending him on doing an admirable job reporting on the game without discussing the weather in the process.