On this date in 1870, the National Weather Service was born.
“A Joint Congressional Resolution requiring the Secretary of War “to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent, and at other points in the States and Territories…and for giving notice on the northern lakes and on the seacoast, by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms” was introduced. Congress passed the resolution and on February 9, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law. A new national weather service had been born within the U.S. Army Signal Service’s Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce that would affect the daily lives of most of the citizens of the United States through its forecasts and warnings for years to come.”
You can read more about the evolution of the National Weather Service at http://www.weather.gov/timeline. All private forecasting firms, including The Weather Channel, Accuweather, and Intellicast as well as many more, depend on NWS observations and model output to make their own forecasts.