The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC), National Weather Association, and American Meteorological Society (AMS) cosponsored a “Symposium on the 50th Anniversary of Operational Numerical Weather Prediction,” on 14–17 June 2004 at the University of Maryland, College Park in College Park, Maryland. Operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) in the United States started with the Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit (JNWPU) on 1 July 1954, staffed by members of the U.S. Weather Bureau, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. The origins of NCEP, AFWA, and FNMOC can all be traced to the JNWPU. The symposium celebrated the pioneering developments in NWP and the remarkable improvements in forecast skill and support of the nation's economy, well being, and national defense achieved over the last 50 years. This essay was inspired by the presentations from that symposium.

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Department of Humanities, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico

National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Washington, D.C.

Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Noblis, Inc., Falls Church, Virginia