D-Day was originally set for June 5 but storms forced allied leader Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to postpone for 24 hours.
Without a break in the weather, D-Day would have to be put off two weeks until tides and moon were right again. Allied meteorologists predicted that break, small though it was, for June 6.
Eisenhower launched the invasion with a simple: “OK, we’ll go.”
A new book by author John Ross — “The Forecast for D-Day” — sees that forecast as a pivotal moment in world history.
“A bad forecast would jeopardize the entire operation,” Ross writes in the book. “If he gave the word to ‘go,’ and the weather turned sour, the lives of thousands of men and massive amounts of equipment would be lost.
“If he did not go and the weather was good, Germans might have spied the massive build-up in southern England and the elements of the invasion fleet headed for Normandy. The odds that the Allies’ plans would have been discovered would increase exponentially,” Ross notes.
By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m.
The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah.
The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved.
By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.
None of the inland objectives were achieved on the first day as planned. But none the less it was a success: the liberation of Europe had begun.
….and it was all thanks to the ability to accurately predict the weather.