Harold Taft's paper maps

Dec 4, 2003
While archiving some old video I found this image of Harold Taft, KXAS (Fort Worth) meteorologist, from around April 1985. Their computer was down for the day so they were using paper maps. In this era, magnet boards were the conventional substitute for computer images, but Taft used these relics of the 1950s, which allowed considerably more artistic expression (and information).


Thanks for sharing!! Harold Taft was my hero when I was like 5 years old. I'd watch the news every night just to see Harold Taft, and was really sad when he passed away.
One interesting note I take away from that image is the use of meteorological symbols. From my very limited knowledge of the history of such maps used for broadcast and print, it seems that the thunderstorm symbol, shower symbol (like Taft used here) and even the fog symbol were often used on newspaper weather depiction and forecast maps and even on television.

Now, you'll never find it. It is unfortunate that weather has, and often continues, to be dumbed down. What was the difference with the populace 50 years ago?

Anyway, very nice find. Thanks, Tim.
Originally posted by Morgan Palmer
weather has, and often continues, to be dumbed down.

I think almost everything gets dumbed down when market forces are at work. Businesses, in order to "expand" and appease shareholders, must inevitably restructure from serving a niche into serving the lowest common denominator. This is not necessarily bad, except that management, as it gets larger, tends to separate itself from the core people who have mastered the company's trade skills, and then imposes its will on them (or gets rid of them). Then we wonder why the Weather Channel is running gardening segments while a tornado outbreak rips through the Ohio Valley.

Harold Taft. That sure brings back memories from 1982 and '83, living in Ft. Worth, listening to great country music on WBAP, looking forward to Harold Taft's reports. A terrific dj named Mike Millard always introduced him as the "world's greatest weatherman." I believed it, with his thoughtful explanations and never-ending enthusiasm for the weather of north-central Texas.

In the spring of '82 and '83, Harold Taft's reports were about all I had to go on for my more-wandering-than-chasing adventures (I had moved to Ft. Worth for the sole purpose of seeing tornadoes). Seeing his picture reminds me of warm, humid, breezy afternoons in April and May, driving north or northwest, towards the Red River, listening to WBAP. And then sferics increasing as the afternoon progressed until I couldn't hear his reports any longer. So I would be on my own with no cell phone, no radar, no decent FM weather information, just an AM band blasted by dozens of lightning strikes every few seconds. But late at night, camping by a lake somewhere in Oklahoma, I would once again pick up clear channel WBAP and hear a weather update from Harold Taft.

One evening in southern Oklahoma, heading home with a fierce HP storm behind me, I remember picking up Harold Taft's voice through the static, hearing him describe how powerful a storm it must be to move due south against a 30 mph southerly wind. Memories of him are thoroughly entwined with those of north Texas thunderstorms, memories that pursued me until I took up chasing storms once again in the mid-1990s.

Okay, I better stop now before a mid-December bout of SDS takes over.
This is kinda like the station plot history that was discussed earlier. All weather maps looked better when a human hand did the drawing. Not that a computer isn't more precise and faster, but as we know computers lack any type of artistic abilities!

Anyway, long live the archaic weather maps:)

Tim - I have a paper "texas" map that Harold Taft drew. I got it when they were cleaning out some stuff form the WBAP 820 radio station junk room in the late 1980's. I need to get it framed :)