Dr. Issac Monroe Cline has been called the father of modern meteorology. The
benchmark of his career was as the section director for the Weather Bureau in
Galveston, Texas, during the devastating hurricane in 1900. It was Cline who
raised the hurricane warning flags over the bureau, sensing that the storm was
more dangerous than predicted and headed straight for the small island town.
Cline devoted his life to understanding weather and its effects. After
completing both a B.F.A. and M.F.A from Hiwassee College in Madisonville,
Tennessee, he earned his medical doctorate from the University of Arkansas.
Cline worked his way through school as a weather observer, trained by the U.S.
Army Signal Corps, and later served at weather stations in both Fort Concho and
The focus of his career changed, however, after Cline lost his wife and his
home in the Galveston hurricane. He realized that his priority should be in
understanding these mammoths of nature, and learning how to chart and predict
them. This knowledge could lead to better warning systems and prevent further
loss of life. Cline compiled all of his findings into a 1926 landmark textbook,
Characteristics of Tropical Cyclones, which quickly became the authority
on meteorology throughout the world.
Dr. Cline ended his career in New Orleans, where he spent thirty-five years
as forecaster-in-charge of the Gulf District. After his retirement, he stayed in
the Crescent City, where he gathered and restored early American portraits as a
hobby. His collection helped form the nucleus of the National Portrait Gallery
in Washington D.C. An icon in New Orleans, Dr. Cline often walked to the weather
office, and the citizens watched him closely every day to see if he carried an