Isaac Cline
Isaac Monroe Cline was the chief meteorologist at the Galveston, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island in the U.S. state of Texas. , the city had a total population of 47,743 within an area of...

 office of the US Weather Bureau from 1889 to 1901. In that role, he became an integral figure in the devastating Galveston Hurricane of 1900
Galveston Hurricane of 1900
The Hurricane of 1900 made landfall on the city of Galveston in the U.S. state of Texas, on September 8, 1900.It had estimated winds of at landfall, making it a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale...


Early life

Cline was born near Madisonville, Tennessee
Madisonville, Tennessee
Madisonville is a city in Monroe County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 3,939 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Monroe County and the location of Hiwassee College.-Geography:...

 on October 13, 1861, to Jacob and Mary Cline. Cline attended Hiwassee College
Hiwassee College
Hiwassee College is a private, accredited college located in Madisonville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1849, the college offers associate degrees as well as four year degrees, The majority of its associate degree graduates go on to attend, and complete, four-year...

, then in 1882, joined the meteorology training program of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Cline was first assigned to Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and the largest city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 699,757 people in the 2010 census...

, where he earned a Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine is a doctoral degree for physicians. The degree is granted by medical schools...

 from the University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas
The University of Arkansas is a public, co-educational, land-grant, space-grant, research university. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with very high research activity. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and is located in...

 in his spare time. He was then assigned to Fort Concho
Fort Concho
Fort Concho is a National Historic Landmark owned and operated since 1935 by the city of San Angelo, the seat of Tom Green County in West Texas...

, then to Abilene, Texas
Abilene, Texas
Abilene is a city in Taylor and Jones counties in west central Texas. The population was 117,063 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Abilene Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2006 estimated population of 158,063. It is the county seat of Taylor County...

 where he met Cora May Ballew, whom he married.


In March 1889, a Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 section of the weather service was being established, and Cline was sent to Galveston to organize and oversee it. Cline stayed with the office when it became part of the U.S. Weather Bureau in the 1891 transfer from the Signal Corps to the Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

. In 1892, Isaac's younger brother, Joseph Cline, also began work as a meteorologist at the Galveston Weather Bureau.

During his time in Galveston, aside from running the weather office, Cline also taught Sunday school at his church, was a professor at the local medical college and, in 1896, earned a doctor of philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 degree from AddRan Male & Female College, now Texas Christian University
Texas Christian University
Texas Christian University is a private, coeducational university located in Fort Worth, Texas, United States and founded in 1873. TCU is affiliated with, but not governed by, the Disciples of Christ...


Hurricane of 1900

Cline was the first meteorologist to provide reliable forecasts of freezing weather. He also provided some of the first available flood
A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

 warnings on the Colorado
Colorado River (Texas)
The Colorado River is a river that runs through the U.S. state of Texas; it should not be confused with the much longer Colorado River which flows from Colorado into the Gulf of California....

 and Brazos
Brazos River
The Brazos River, called the Rio de los Brazos de Dios by early Spanish explorers , is the longest river in Texas and the 11th longest river in the United States at from its source at the head of Blackwater Draw, Curry County, New Mexico to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico with a drainage...

 rivers. However, in 1891, he wrote an article in the Galveston Daily News in which he gave his official meteorological opinion that the thought of a hurricane
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

 ever doing any serious harm to Galveston was "a crazy idea". Many residents had called for a seawall
A seawall is a form of coastal defence constructed where the sea, and associated coastal processes, impact directly upon the landforms of the coast. The purpose of a seawall is to protect areas of human habitation, conservation and leisure activities from the action of tides and waves...

 to protect the city, but Cline's statement helped to prevent its construction.

He was proven tragically wrong on September 8, 1900, when the Galveston Hurricane of 1900
Galveston Hurricane of 1900
The Hurricane of 1900 made landfall on the city of Galveston in the U.S. state of Texas, on September 8, 1900.It had estimated winds of at landfall, making it a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale...

 hit the island. Between 6,000-12,000 people were killed in what remains as the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Cline's wife, Cora, who was pregnant with their fourth child at the time, was one of those who perished in the storm. Cline himself was nearly drowned, but he managed to survive, as well as to save his youngest daughter, six-year old Esther. Joseph Cline saved Isaac's other two daughters, 12-year old Allie May and 11-year old Rosemary.

In his autobiography, Isaac Cline claimed that he had taken it upon himself to travel along the beach and other low-lying areas warning people personally of the storm's approach. It is known that at around noon on September 8, he did breach Weather Bureau protocol by making a unilateral decision to issue a hurricane warning without first securing authorization from the Bureau's central office in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. However, no eyewitnesses reported seeing Cline personally warning people along the beach. Writer Erik Larson
Erik Larson
Erik Larson is an American author. He has written Isaac's Storm , about the experiences of Isaac Cline during the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America , about the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and a series of...

 argued in his book Isaac's Storm that Cline did not warn anyone in Galveston prior to the hurricane warning.


Shortly after the destruction of Galveston, the Weather Bureau began establishing regional forecasting centers. The center for the gulf coast was initially located in Galveston, with Isaac Cline as chief forecaster. In 1901, the center was moved to New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, and Isaac Cline moved with it. There he developed a stellar reputation over the years, successfully forecasting significant levels of flooding in 1912, 1915 and 1927. In 1927, he published the book Tropical Cyclones, a collection of his research. In 1934, by that point well respected and highly admired in New Orleans, Cline received an honorary doctorate from Tulane University
Tulane University
Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States...


Cline retired from the Weather Bureau in 1935, remained in New Orleans and indulged his longtime interest in art, both by painting and by opening an art shop. He died in 1955 at the age of 93.

It also says in Isaac's Storm that Cline worn his late wife's wedding ring on his pink, to remember her.
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