The colourful Clement Wragge
Another important part of the story behind Weather Detective is Clement Lindley Wragge (1852-1922).
Clement Wragge was the colourful Queensland meteorologist from the late 1800s who collected the log books that will be transcribed in Weather Detective – you’ll notice his letterhead at the top of many of the log book pages.
The logbooks, from both navy and merchant ships, contain records from 1882-1903 and cover the immediate Australasian region, and also capture ships traversing the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.
Clement was a innovative visionary who understood the importance of keeping weather records. He also saw the possibility of forecasting and tracking the path of tropical cyclones using these weather observations. The convention of naming tropical cyclones was begun by him – although he got in trouble once he started naming them for politicians he didn’t like! – and he attempted to make it rain by firing a rocket at the clouds!!
A passionate and ambitious man, he started meteorological stations in places as far apart as Ben Nevis and Hobart. He was deeply disappointed to be passed over for the official position of Government Meteorologist when Australia became a federation in 1902. One of the reasons he didn’t get it was because he’d antagonised the other state meteorologists/astronomers by inscribing his reports Meteorology of Australasia and Chief Weather Bureau.
Wragge resigned from the Queensland Government in 1903 when his funding was decreased following the Federation of Australia.
His story can be seen in more detail in this 7.30 Report video from Brisbane’s Jenny Woodward.
Take a look at some of these old photos of Clement Wragge.