By the time he was only 30 years old, John Jeffries was already an accomplished physician in colonial New England. He hung out in Boston with the likes of future president John Adams and his cousin Samuel Adams (yes, the revolutionary and beer guy).
He had gained some extra notoriety a few years earlier during the trial of the British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre. Jeffries stood as a star witness… for the defense. He had treated one of the civilians who eventually died from the altercation but gave an exonerating deathbed statement to his surgeon, Dr. Jeffries.
Jeffries also happened to be a scientist with a keen interest in the weather.
He began recording daily weather measurements in 1774. That made him one of America’s very first “weather observers,” and a precursor to today’s meteorologists and weather spotters. In 1784, he floated over London in a balloon collecting more weather data and, the next year, made an historic balloon flight over the English Channel. He took more weather readings along the way.
A letter Jeffries dropped from the balloon flight is considered by Amherst College historians to be “the oldest piece of airmail in existence.”
For all these reasons, Dr. John Jeffries’ birthday, February 5, is celebrated as National Weatherperson’s Day in the US.
The National Weather Service Office in Chicago says the day is meant “to recognize the men and women who collectively provide Americans with the best weather, water, and climate forecasts and warning services of any nation.”
Happy National Weatherperson’s Day!