D-Day postponed by Irish weather reports

Blacksod Lighthouse, Co Mayo Ireland (Image thesilvervoice)

This is Blacksod Lighthouse, near Belmullet, County Mayo on the remote west coast of Ireland. It doesn’t look much like traditional lighthouses as the light is perched on top of an old granite building that dates from 1864. It may look insignificant, but what happened here a few days before the World War 2 D-Day Landings in France would change the course of history.

Ted Sweeney was the lighthouse keeper who also logged hourly weather reports. Blacksod was of meteorological significance as it was the first land based weather station in Europe, where weather readings could be professionally taken on the prevailing European Atlantic westerly weather systems. Ted’s weather reports were relayed to the Meteorological Office in Dunstable in Bedfordshire, England. Operation Overlord was planned for June 5th as moon and tide conditions were ideal, and the weather looked favourable.

But, Ted’s report at 2 am on June 3rd recorded a rapidly falling barometer and strong winds. This caused consternation with the Allies. Dunstable called to confirm the accuracy of the readings and asked Ted to repeat the details of the 2 am report. They called a second time to verify the same information. Ted had no idea of course what the fuss was about. But Eisenhower, who commanded the Allied Expeditionary Forces  cancelled Operation Overlord as heavy rain and wind was now forecast in the English Channel on the morning of June 5th

Met conditions on June 4th based largely on weather reports from Ireland .This chart is held at Foynes Maritime Museum. (Image thesilvervoice)

By noon on June 4th Ted’s readings looked more favorable. Rain had cleared at Blacksod and visibility was good. This improved weather would reach the English Channel, some 450 miles away, in time to allow Eisenhower to order the D-Day landings of some 160,000 army personnel on the beaches of Normandy on June 6 1944 – the largest amphibious invasion in history.

Commemorative plaque at Blacksod Lighthouse (Image thesilvervoice)

The rest, as they say, is history.


Filed under Ireland

2 responses to “D-Day postponed by Irish weather reports

  1. Goodness. What an interesting post.

  2. Yes, an oddity of history indeed. After which Belmullet retreated back into the shadows 🙂

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