by: Victor Boesen
Schumann's Concerto in A-Minor
Through no fault of his own, living Krick found himself in Holly wood in 1930, the first year of the Great Depression, the heavy-duty hard times that followed the stock market crash of the previous autumn. By this chance circumstance, it is fair to speculate, the world gained a scientist and lost a piano player. Being in southern California, 400 miles from San Francisco, his birthplace and hometown, he felt less of the undertow of his mother's influence. She was set on a musical career for her only son, whose own learnings, on the other hand, were toward science. This deviated rather sharply from traditional family callings. His father and uncle were bankers, whose forebears came to California from Boston, crossing the plains by Conestoga wagon. His maternal grandfather, Henry Clinton Parkhurst, was a novelist and an editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. There was music in the family, lrving's father played the violin and his mother was a talented pianist. Thus, with both parents musical, his mother had visions of lrving becoming a great artist of the keyboard. Born on December 20, 1906, eight months after the earthquake and fire that ravaged San Francisco, destroying all of the Krick family's possessions, lrving was not many years out of the cradle when his mother began providing him with piano lessons. She had him study under her own teacher, and with such well-known artists of the day as Fred Maurer and E. Robert Schmidt. By the time he was thirteen, he was giving Sunday afternoon concerts at the University of California's Greek Theater in Berkeley. The Steinway grand piano which his mother bought him at the time is still a cherished possession, gracing the marbled living room of his Moorish mansion in Palm Springs.
Krick's piano playing led to another skill. His facile fingers, made so by hours and hours of racing them up and down the keyboard in arpeggio practice, caught the alert eye of his high school typing teacher. She took him under her wing, and presently he won the state speed typing championship.
When Irving's father died unexpectedly, at the young age of thirty-seven, leaving no insurance, his mother taught music to keep lrving's piano lessons going and to put him and his sister Jeanne, who was five years younger than he, through college.
But, for all the preoccupation with music, something happened to lrving while he was in high school. The phenomenon of radio had appeared, and, in common with many another youngster, he built his own radio station, with the call letters 6CKS. He had been bitten by the bacillus scientificus, never to recover.
Entering the University of California at Berkeley, he selected courses that pointed him toward electrical engineering. In his junior year, however, at the urging of his mother, he switched his major to music. He tried out for the school's Glee Club and toured the Orient with the club as its accompanist and piano soloist. A later our of the United States by the Glee Club included Carnegie Hall and an appearance at the White House for President Coolidge. In addition, off campus, he gave concerts and accompanied singers, both on the stage and on the air, playing with the NBC Symphony orchestra. With his thick shock of jet-black hair sagging over his left eye, Krick could not have looked more the part of the maestro if he had been picked by Hollywood's Central Casting.
All the same, he decided he wasn't good enough to make it to the top in music and went back to science and engineering. By cramming, he completed two years of physics in one, and graduated from the University of California as a physicist in 1928.
His first contact with meteorology came during his college years. His unit of the ROTC was the Coast Artillery, in those days still considered vital to national defense, and at one summer camp the practice range for moving targets was the Strait of Juan de Fuca, off Fort Worden in Washington.
Firing computations for range and azimuth were based on a stand ard atmosphere chart for density, and on balloon runs for winds. More often than not, the first shots splashed down short of the target, sailed over it, or plowed the water to one side. Then came the day when the fledgling coast defenders dropped a twelve-inch mortar shell down the funnel of the boat lowing the target, badly straining relations with the crew.
Since he was the range officer and responsible for what happened, the incident stuck in Krick's mind. Clearly, they needed to know more about the atmosphere, particularly the winds at the top of mortar or anti-aircraft trajectory. Some years later, as a reserve officer in the coast artillery, he helped to pioneer the use of sound ing balloons that sent back upper air information in real time, and worked up better ballistics tables for fire control, in particular high altitude anti-aircraft guns.
After graduating from UC as a physicist, Krick again yielded to his mother's wishes and returned to music. He became assistant manager of Radio Station KTAB in San Francisco, where he had often played the piano, doing programming, disc jockeying, and almost anything else there was to be done. This work lasted until the arrival of a new manager, who told Krick he was worthy of better things and fired him. "One day you'll thank me," he said, with more prescience than he probably realized.
Krick's Uncle Ed at the American Trust Company thought it was time Krick got out of music and found him aj)ob as a runner for Chapman de Wolfe & Company, stockbrokers. Whether this new position was up or down on the scale of worthy work, as it might be seen by the radio station manager, was rendered academic almost before Krick started, by the stock market crash. Runners for stock brokers became highly dispensable.
Next, Krick sold pianos on a commission basis, now and then playing the instrument in concert. He finally came to the point where he grimly said to himself, "This is my last." His swan song as a public performer would remain in his mind as a sort of mile stone through the years-the first movement of Schumann's Con certo in A-Minor, played with the NBC Orchestra.
His mother had not given up, however, and at her insistence Krick went to Denver to attend a so-called master class in piano, conducted by E. Robert Schmidt, who later that year hired him as his assistant for classes in Hollywood-which was how Krick happened to be in Hollywood in 1930.
Being in southern California coupled with his distaste for the work he had been doing with Schmidt, brought Krick to a hard and final decision: He resolved to make science his lifework.
Krick's brother-in-law, Horace Byers, was studying meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the celebrated Swedish meteorologist, Carl G. Rossby (who one day would figure in Krick's life in ways unsuspected). "Look into this field," Byers wrote Krick from MIT. "It's going to be very important to aviation. I can get you a fellowship from Rossby to study here."
Because he had now been out of school a couple of years, Krick enrolled at the California Institute of Technology to refresh himself on math and physics and learn what he could of meteorology before he went east to MIT, at the time the only school in the United States teaching graduate meteorology.
At CalTech, Krick met Dr. Beno Gutenberg, director of the school's seismological laboratory, who was also teaching a course in the structure of the atmosphere. Gutenberg had been a weather man with the German Army in World War I and took a special interest in young Krick. He gave him a desk in his office and, to supplement his work in the classroom, sent him to study the weather maps at the United States Weather Bureau in Los Angeles.
Gradually Krick began to learn about the atmosphere and how it operated as a worldwide system. Under Gutenberg's influence, he came to think globally in considering what went on atmospheric ally. He studied the planetary wind systems instead of mere local air movements. He saw that what happened in one place produced an effect elsewhere-that Newton's law of motion was in operation. He realized that trying to solve the mysteries of the weather by studying a small area of the atmosphere is like trying to figure out how a machine works by looking at a single part.
With the big picture in mind, pupil and teacher took up the ideas of Professor Wilhelm Bjerknes of the Geophysical Institute of Bergen, Norway, and his son Jacob. The elder Bjerknes had lec tured earlier at CalTech on hydrodynamics. The two Norwegians held that by analyzing air masses of different origins and character istics-of different temperatures and moisture densities, for example -where the two masses met could be determined and the weather along the boundary predicted.
There was nothing really new about the theory of moving air masses and the practice of drawing a line between them to show where they meet. They had been discovered and written about nearly a century earlier, in 1841, by Professor James Pollard Espy, who drew lines on the weather charts he prepared for the Navy, indicating weather fronts moving across the country, west to east.
But the practice of drawing fronts on weather maps was gradually abandoned. The idea grew that more or less all one needed to fore tell the weather was to follow surface barometric pressure patterns on the map. If the patterns were moving in a given direction at, say, 600 miles a day, then it followed that a change of weather would be coming up the next day 600 miles farther down the line. The trouble was, of course, that too often pressure patterns have a habit of slowing down or speeding up, changing direction, and decreasing or increasing their intensity, thus wrecking the forecast.
Yet, this is still essentially the way weather is forecast by govern ment agencies, even now, toward the end of the twentieth century. Krick showed such promise in science after a year or so at Cal Tech that Gutenberg persuaded him to give up his plans to attend MIT. "Stay here at CalTech," Gutenberg urged. "I think you have the capability to work with me, and perhaps eventually they'll set up a course in meteorology, either under me or somebody else, am you can become a part of it."
Krick wasn't anxious to leave his native California for Boston anyway, so he stayed. In another year he felt he had learned enough about the weather to put his knowledge to use. With a roll of weather maps under his arm, he presented himself to Jimmie James chief pilot and vice president of operations for Western Air Express forerunner of Western Airlines.
James was interested in any system of weather forecasting that promised to improve the chances of flights getting through, and he listened patiently, if skeptically, as his rather dandified young caller expounded on the merits of the Norwegian Air Mass Analysis method of weather forecasting. It was probably just as well that James didn't know he was listening to a piano player.
"Weather is made by the battle always going on between warm air moving up from the tropics and the cold air coming down from the arctic," Krick explained, unrolling his maps on the counter "Where the two air masses meet, the cold air plows in under the warm air, throwing it upward to where it's cooler and causing it to lose its moisture in the form of rain or snow. We call this boundary between cold and warm air a weather front. "I see," James nodded, more or less absently. "If you know where one of these fronts is going to occur," Krick went on, "you can tell a great deal about what the weather is going to be along its length as it moves."
"Your timing is pretty good," James interrupted finally. "Joe George, our regular meteorologist, is going on vacation. If you want to take a job as a clerk, handling the mail and doing some of the paper work, you can draw those funny-looking maps and help us on the weather in your spare time."
Krick soon became known around Western's terminal in Burbank as "the baggage-slinger." With a pistol strapped to his hip, he toted luggage for the passengers, loaded and unloaded mailbags, and made out the forms that showed the weight of the cargo, an im portant job in the aviation of 1932, when a few pounds too much could mean disaster.
When there was nothing else to do, he happily talked with the pilots about air masses, giving them insights into how it helped to know about them because of the rough weather frequently found in their vicinity. They were soon listening to his advice. "If you fly at 10,000 feet on the way out and at a different altitude coming back, you'll have a tail wind both ways," Krick would tell them.
It didn't take the airline long to adopt the slogan: "Western Air Express planes always have tail winds."
One day, as pilot Fred Kelly prepared to take off for Salt Lake City, Krick advised him, "There's a cold front just west of Milford, Utah. If you'll sit down at Milford for a couple of hours, the storm will pass to the east and you can go on."
Kelly gratefully reported on his return that he might have been in serious trouble over the Wasatch Mountains but for Krick's warning about the storm. It had been quite turbulent, but spent itself in about the time Krick estimated, allowing Kelly to resume his flight to Salt Lake City.
Krick thereupon was made full-time weatherman for the line, with a free hand to go about forecasting in his own way, unfettered by conventional procedures. He drew lines on the maps showing where air masses came together, causing weather fronts, wind changes, and other effects important for the airman to know about. This innovation upset Joe George when he came back from vaca tion.
"What are these lines you've been putting on the maps?" George demanded. Krick's explanation failed to mollify him. "Don't mess with the weather maps!" he ordered.
Jimmie James talked the matter over with the pilots, who agreed the lines helped and were a step forward. "I want the lines left in," James ruled.
In the early morning hours of April 4, 1933, Krick's habit of searching out fronts on weather maps involved him in an event which firmly set the course of his future. With an early morning class at CalTech, Krick took a nap each night during the five hours of little flying activity when the IIO-miles-an-hour Fokker F-IOs flew from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. As he turned in, he remarked to the radio operator, "I'm glad we're not flying off the coast of New Jersey tonight. There's a cold front coming down from the northeast and a warm front coming up from the southwest. When the two meet there is going to be one awful mix-up. It'll be very violent." Krick was no sooner asleep than he was shaken awake by the radioman. "My God, the Akron just went down in the Atlantic off Bamegat Light-right where you said all that rough weather was coming!" he exclaimed. The Akron was an enormous airship-78? feet long, large enough to accommodate five airplanes aboard. It was the pride of the United States Navy. Seventy-three men died in the disaster, the headline event of the day. At school later in the morning Krick sought out Dr. Theodore von Karman. Known as "master of the wind" for his knowledge of fluid mechanics, this Hungarian-born scientist was chairman of CalTech's Guggenheim Aeronautics Laboratory, which later was to spawn the world-famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Von Karman also headed the Goodyear Airship Institute at Akron, Ohio. "The Akron never had a chance," Krick said. "The wind shear set up by these two opposing air masses blowing in opposite direc tions was bound to destroy the ship. She should never have been flown into this kind of weather."
Von Karman was impressed by Krick's earnestness. "Get me the velocity of these winds and we'll calculate the stresses on the ship," von Karman told him.
The calculations, by Frank Wattendorf, Karman's assistant, proved Krick to be correct: the Akron, broken in two like a stick across the knee of a giant, was doomed from the moment the ship left the hangar, although the United States Weather Bureau had reported that the storm posed no danger to flying that day.
Von Karman called on Dr. Robert Andrews Millikan, chairman of CalTech's executive council, Nobel laureate for isolating the electron and measuring its charge, thereby opening the way for the age of electronics, and holder of the Roosevelt Association Medal for his discovery of the cosmic ray.
"Chief," von Karman began, addressing Millikan by the title everyone used, "I think commercial aviation is here to stay and that meteorology is going to play a more and more important role in it as time passes. I think we ought to set up some sort of meteorology course for graduate students, maybe with Krick teaching it."
Millikan, who had been General John J. Pershing's weatherman in World War I, agreed. "It's time weather forecasting was im proved," he mused. "We need to be able to forecast farther ahead and to be more accurate."
By the fall of 1933, a few months after the Akron disaster, Cal Tech had a meteorology department, headed by Krick, who had earned his master's degree in Meteorology during the summer. Krick, cultivating a mustache to make him look older than his students, taught courses in the practical side of forecasting while von Karman and Gutenberg dealt in the theoretical aspects of the subject. One of Krick's pupils, incidentally, was Western Air Ex press' Joe George, sent over by Jimmie James.
Those who filled the classes included students from all branches of the armed services, the United States Weather Bureau, the air lines, and from foreign governments. A frequent visitor was Lieu tenant Colonel Henry H. Arnold, commanding officer at March Air Force Base, at Riverside, California, whose bombers carried Dr. Millikan's cosmic ray equipment on special trips aloft. In his book. Global Mission, published after World War II Arnold recalled the first time he met Krick, in December 1940 describing it as one of his "most unforgettable contacts with an academic scientist." Krick's analysis of what happened to the doomed Akron and why, had affected him as few other things he "had heard in my twenty years of flying," Arnold wrote. "Naturally, I watched Dr. Krick's work eagerly after that. Weather is the essence of flying."
As a teacher as well as a student, now preparing for his doctorate Krick was paid $117a month-not bad pay at a time whe some 20 million Americans had no income at all. The money enabled Krick to quit his fob at Western Air Express and devote full time to the academic life.
After Krick left the airline, Clancy Dayhoff, its public relations chief, proudly published the claim that during the months Krick forecast the weather for them he had been right 96.4 percent of the time. The best the Weather Bureau had been able to do, Dayhoff wrote, was around 63 percent.
The Weather Bureau was not pleased.
When Krick had received his Ph.D in Meteorology in 1934, Dr. Millikan sent him to Europe. "I want you to visit every meteorology institute you can this summer," Millikan instructed his protege' "See what they are doing, and when you come back to CalTech this fall I want you perhaps to point our research in a different direction from what everybody else is doing."
In Germany, Krick ran across a meteorologist named Stuve who had some new ideas in getting at the weather's behavior. Figura tively, Stuve worked from the top down, looking down through the atmosphere from above rather than up through it from below, as others were doing. He believed that the heat balance at the outer limits of the atmosphere governed the planetary winds, and that what went on with the weather in the lower portion of the atmos phere was the result of what happened above it.
Stuve's thinking appealed to Krick. It reminded him of Guten berg's cosmic view of things back at CalTech. It went beyond that of the Norwegians, who were working with contrasting air masses which produced weather as they moved about in the lower atmos phere and collided with one another. Krick asked himself. What moved these masses around in the first place?
What excited Krick most on his tour of Europe's weather lab oratories in the summer of 1934 was something he picked up in Leipzig from Professor Gerhard Wieckman, a dissenter from the Nazi movement. Wieckman led Krick into the woods where they could talk freely and told him he had discovered that there was a systematic progression of local barometric pressures which regis tered on a barograph, an instrument for recording air pressures at the earth's surface.
"I can make long-range forecasts from this," Wieckman said. Krick returned home convinced that the Germans were closer to long-range weather prediction than anyone else. What he learned that day in the German woods, combined with further researches at CalTech, would have a bearing on the outcome of the coming war.
"I feel there is a good possibility that we will be able to make forecasts that go far out-well beyond where people are working today," Krick told Dr. Millikan, who directed Krick to press on with his studies.
Did the weather behave chaotically, as many argued (and still do), or were there orderly, recurring patterns to it? Krick and his students began to examine the entire complex of wind systems for as much of the globe as they could. By diligent search and persist ence they were able to collect weather data going back five years for most of the Northern Hemisphere-Eastern Asia, the Pacific, North America, the Atlantic and Europe.
By the late thirties they had established that they could group barometric pressure patterns and related daily weather in blocks of six days. They found there was a finite number of these patterns, or weather types, as they called them, for each octant of the globe, or for each quadrant of a hemisphere. They were able to classify and catalogue all weather types occurring within the five years they had studied.
The six-day weather types became the building blocks, providing a basis for long-range forecasting. Once a weather type was identi fied, the weather across one quadrant of the hemisphere could be predicted at any location for the next six days. The pressure con figurations for a given type were found to be the same in winter as in summer, irrespective of conditions at the earth's surface. This indicated that control did, indeed, come from the upper atmos phere, far above the earth. However, the weather associated with each pattern changed with the seasons.
Thus, if one could determine the sequence in which these weather types occurred for a month, a season, or years ahead, the way was open to make ultra long-range weather forecasts. Krick and his associates would reach this achievement in the late 1950s. As they learned more and more in the laboratory, Millikan en couraged Krick to start putting the knowledge to practical use, ap plying it in the field. "Make what you're doing relevant to society," Millikan counseled. "Without that, it all means nothing."
By chance, this field testing began with the motion picture in dustry. Homer Scale, manager of the Alhambra Airport, where Western Air Express had first operated, remembered Krick's fore casting score for the airline after a movie crew kept showing up to shoot scenes at the airfield, only to be thwarted by fog each time it great expense to the producers of the film.
With a good ear for the knock of opportunity, Scale called on Krick at CalTech, and soon Krick was weatherman to Hollywood, vith Homer Seale working for him. Any reservations the film men may still have had about Krick's gifts as a weather prophet vanished fter he picked the night for burning Atlanta in Gone With The Vind. It had to be a night that was clear, calm, and without wind, out of consideration for adjacent property. Obviously, there could be no retakes.
Word of Krick's work for the film makers soon spread to other industries. A studio worker had a friend with an orange grove, sensi tive to frost, and presently Krick was forecasting the weather for the California citrus industry. After he forecast the cold January of 1937, which wiped out much of the crop, citrus growers called him from Arizona, Texas and Florida, as well. The Detroit Edison Company was troubled by ice storms which downed its power lines. Was there anything Krick could do about that from California? Krick not only told them when the next ice storm would hit, but warned that it would be highly unusual, bring ing lightning along with the ice to knock out transformers. This feat brought more utilities to his door, followed by oil com panies, farmers, ranchers, aerial surveyors, construction firms, dam builders, department stores, sports promoters. Yachtsmen sailing to Hawaii during the annual race to the islands asked about the weather en route. Radio stations began broadcasting his predictions. In time, after World War II, the Red Cross wanted to know about hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other such calamities a year in advance, so they could be on hand with help for the victims when the trouble came. Even undertakers had use for Krick: they needed to know how deep the ground would be frozen, for the benefit of their grave diggers. As the demand for Krick's services increased, Weather Bureau men began dogging his footsteps, prodded by Dr. Carl Rossby, the former head of MIT's meteorology department. Rossby had come to grief after he received an ultimatum from the chief of the Air Force Weather Service, Captain Robert M. Losey, a former stu dent of Krick's, that unless Rossby adopted Krick's training methods for his own Air Force students he would get no more of them. Rossby, who regarded Krick as an upstart, refused-and was fired. His pride was further ruffled when his place was given to Dr. Sverre Petterssen of Norway, who had lectured at CalTech at the invitation of Krick, Petterssen's pupil for six weeks during Krick's 1934 visit to Europe. Finding a new job as Assistant Chief of the United States Weather Bureau for Education, Rossby warned against Krick and set up a half-dozen competing weather schools at colleges and universities, including one at the University of Cali fornia at Los Angeles, twenty miles from CalTech.
Weather Bureau men told Krick's clients and potential clients that his methods were not "scientific." At best, they said, Krick's theories were "experimental," as yet without basis in sound sci entific truth. "Beware of the salesman scientist," they cautioned.
The Weather Bureau tried to lure his customers away by offering a specialized service of its own each time Krick added a new cate gory of service. In so doing, The Los Angeles Times noted, the Weather Bureau became "the first government forecasting bureau in the nation to offer a teletype system whereby information of interest to a particular group is 'piped' directly into the offices of the latter."
Many of the detectors to the government's bait were soon back in Krick's fold, happy again to pay handsome fees for what the Weather Bureau offered free but failed to deliver. "It's obvious we wouldn't pay for his forecasts year after year if we could get equally accurate and detailed predictions free from the bureau," one client remarked.
Frustrated and jealous, Weather Bureau officials slashed at Krick in print. "Now, of course, there is nothing whatever to distinguish Dr. Krick from scads of other self-seekers who choose to prostitute their talents in the assiduous effort to satisfy the maddening crowd's well-known appetite for exploitation and ballyhoo," wrote Tom Reed, Weather Bureau chief in San Francisco, in the publication United States Air Services, July, 1935. At the time Krick was twenty-eight and had just been hired by American Airlines to upgrade the line's weather service.
"What does distinguish him from the rest of the horn-blowing chorus," Reed went on, "is the exalted academic altitude from which he does the blowing. When he wallows in the muck of cheap and noisy self-exploitation, he splashes with his own advertising ooze a high-class and eminently respectable lycee."
The Weather Bureau's gratuitous solicitude for what Krick might be doing to CalTech's reputation was not shared by Dr. Millikan. "I feel quite sure that there is no one who has done more toward improving meteorology than has lrving Krick," Millikan wrote to Dr. F. B. Jewett, head of the Bell Laboratories at Ameri can Telephone and Telegraph, who had helped CalTech get free teletype service from the Weather Bureau, but who now had com plaint from a critic that other schools, such as MIT, paid for theirs.
Millikan assured Jewett that CalTech wanted no special favors. "Let us know what the regular pay basis is and I will do what I can to meet the conditions," he wrote. In a postscript, Millikan added edgily, "The fact which Mr. Powley [the critic] mentions, that the movie and citrus industries have desired to pay Krick something for giving them forecasts suffi ciently superior to those that they can get through the Weather Bureau for nothing to make them want to pay for his in prefer ence, has, of course, nothing whatever to do with the problem; though I suspect that jealousy of Krick's success on the part of some Weather Bureau officials has had something to do with Mr. Powley's letter."
Likewise coming to Krick's defense was science writer William S. Barton of The Los Angeles Times. "Dr. Krick, unless he'd hid abroad a la Lindbergh, no more could have escaped getting his name in print than any American who does something first, be it flying the Atlantic, starting a frog farm or, in this case, founding an interesting new industry of selling weather."
"Let's see how Dr. Krick's predictions have been turning out," Barton continued. "In yesterday's article in the Times it was pointed out that the Los Angeles office of the Weather Bureau was con sidered by the reporter to have been wrong seven times straight in its afternoon forecasts . . . On five of those days rain fell that the bureau failed to predict." Krick, on the other hand, had predicted rain for each of those five days. Barton wrote. On another day. Barton went on, "when a near-flood of two inches of rain fell, Krick predicted, 'cloudy and heavy rain,' while the Bureau predicted, 'partly cloudy with light showers.' " As for the propriety of the Weather Bureau supplying the kind of specialized service Krick provided. Barton asked, "What of the taxpayer? Should the Weather Bureau be expanded to the point where it is spending half its time telling motion picture companies what make up tints its extras will require two weeks from now? . . . "The most important question remains to be answered. Will a more sympathetic attitude on the part of the public and a more progressive outlook by government weather men serve the good and the safety of the nation?" Barton concluded. In marked contrast to the stance of the Weather Bureau toward Krick were the things his clients were saying. "Now that we have (your system)," wrote President C. R. Smith of American Airlines, "I wonder how we ever got along without it." "Your forecasts have been hitting us right between the eyes," wrote Marshall Field & Company in Chicago. General Manager Arnold Eddy of the University of Southern California sent word of "how perfectly your predictions came true during the current foot ball season . . . We grade you an 'A'." "We are now on our second year of using your long-range fore casting service and I wish . . . to compliment you on the accuracy of your forecasts," said the New York-Alaska Gold Dredging Cor poration of Seattle. From the Delco Appliance Division of the General Motors Corporation, Rochester, New York: ". . . Your ability to forecast well in advance of actual conditions with as high a degree of accuracy as you achieved last year is very surprising." Commonwealth & Southern Corporation of Birmingham, Ala bama, generating more than 100 million kilowatt-hours a week, mostly with water power, had found Krick's monthly rain fore casts for the Coosaw River "at least 75 percent accurate." Fruit and vegetable growers, the James G. McCarrick Company of Robs town, Texas, wanted "to thank you for the service rendered us from your long-range forecasts the past two years." The forecasts had helped both in harvesting and planting and "also in determining our movement of vegetables through the stormy periods."
The Anderson-Tully Company, of Memphis, writing of how help ful Krick's forecasts had been to their business of logging, hoped that his efforts to improve the weather service "will be encouraged by the Federal Government. If war should come, as it well might, long-range weather forecasting would be of the utmost importance . . to our national defense."
There was no way to top the words of William C. Ackerman, graduate manager of the "Associated Students" of the University of California in Los Angeles. "In all of the forecasts made for us during . . . [the two years they had been using Krick's forecasts] Dr. Krick has been 100 percent correct in his predictions," Acker man wrote, commenting, "The University would be very much interested in any help that might be given Dr. Krick to accelerate his long-range forecasting research at the California Institute of Technology."
Oliver L. Parks, president of Parks Air College, an aviation school in St. Louis, Missouri, 'sent word, "We have talked at considerable length with certain Air Corps officers about the suc cess of the forecasts. I hope you get proper appropriations to carry on your fine work."
The California Division of Highways, concerned with snows in the mountains, had this to say: "The experience we have had with the long-range prediction proves ever more convincing that such service is necessary in order that storm damage to our state highway system can be kept to a minimum."
Referring to several recent storms, the highway authorities con tinued, "The accurate timing and indication of their intensity en abled us to prepare for them to a greater extent than would other wise have been done, the saving from damage to us at that time more offsetting the cost of your service for a long period of time"
To the Appalachian Electric Power Company in Charleston, West Virginia, Krick's service "has practically become indispensable . . . we now wonder how we ever got along without it."
Chief engineer H. E. Hedger of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, operating sixteen dams, sixteen debris basins, six water spreading grounds, more than 500 miles of channels, and three main river outlets to the ocean, wrote, "We have found your short range forecasts extremely helpful," and that Krick's long-range predictions had "created a considerable saving to the District. . . . Any program which you may be able to develop to further increase the efficiency of weather forecasts has our hearty endorsement." On the strength of Krick's forecast that it would rain, Larry MacPhail, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, bought $10,000 worth of insurance as protection against rain of more than one twentieth of an inch between eleven o'clock and two for a certain baseball game. It did rain, as Krick predicted, and the ball club collected on its insurance. The club, MacPhail wrote, made a net profit for the season on week-ahead forecasts of this type from Krick. There were, of course, some misses, too, in those beginning days -as there still are. "We're not perfect," Krick readily acknowl edges. There was the time Humphrey Bogart entered his boat, the Santana, in the annual yacht race to Ensenada, Mexico, and asked Krick's office for a weather forecast. "I want to know about any special conditions I can take advantage of," Bogart growled. Krick himself was in Europe at the time, but his staff worked up a forecast that should have helped Bogart get to Mexico in winning time. "When you leave San Pedro," the Krick men in structed, "sail out beyond Catalina Island get out into the open ocean. You'll have a following wind out there that will take you all the way to Ensenada."
Bogart did as directed, sailing well past Catalina and ran into a dead calm. For three days the Santana sat there like Coleridge's "painted ship upon a painted ocean." Bogart never did get to Ensenada.
And, although Krick would one day distinguish himself for his military forecasts, he got off to a rather inauspicious start in this area, badly flubbing his very first prediction.
It happened soon after he began teaching at CalTech. Colonel Arnold invited him for lunch at March Field, and since it wasn't every day that the base entertained a college professor, least of all a dapper, outgoing youngster like this one, the food was preceded by a number of high-octane martinis.
When the lunch ended. Colonel Arnold mentioned that they were flying a training mission to Santa Barbara and back next day. "What's the weather going to be, Doc?" Colonel Arnold asked.
"Hell, no problem," Krick replied expansively, aware through the martinis that the weather front which had passed through the day before was now over in Arizona on its way east. "You'll have no problem at all-fine flying weather."
Back at school next morning, looking at the weather map for the day, Krick was suddenly aghast to see that the front which had been safely over in Arizona the day before, had pulled a once-in-a blue-moon surprise and reversed itself, looping back to California. With gusty winds and driving rain, it was no day for even the birds to fly.
"I'll never forget it," Krick says, still able to feel embarrassment over the incident these many years later. "It's a wonder General Arnold ever came back to me for anything, but he never mentioned this affair in all the years we knew each other never a word about it. He was that kind of man."
end chapter two