U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version


Document Type



NOA Technical Memorandum (November 1984) ERL NSSL-97


United States government work


During the 19th century, while others were debating about the theory and morphology of tornadoes, Finley set out to prove that tornadoes, like other weather phenomena, could be forecast. He developed forecast rules and made experimental forecasts. His forecasting and analysis activities made him the center of controversy during most of his professional life and led to open debate in the literature, but he set precedents in meteorological forecasting that are still valid today. His career as a meteorologist started while he was a private in the United States Army. His interest continued even when he had achieved the rank of Captain and was Civil Governor of Zamboanga in the Phillipines. After his retirement as a Colonel he again became active as a private meteorologist, first establishing a business that provided insurance underwriters with meteorological data for assessing risks, and then opening a school of theoretical and applied meteorology and climatology.