Mental Floss

Nazi weather forecasts from Canada


Really. Joe Kissell at Interesting Thing of the Day says:

"During World War II, German submarines, known as U-boats, kept very busy blowing up allied ships in the Atlantic—particularly those bound for Europe with supplies from North America. The U-boats' operations had to be planned carefully and were in part dependent on weather conditions. In order to get the best data about weather systems approaching from the west, the Nazis devised an elaborate network of 21 automated weather stations that were to be installed in secret locations all across the North Atlantic, from Norway to Greenland to Canada. ... Two of the stations were destined for Canada. One of these was station WFL-26, code-named "Kurt." On October 22, 1943, U-537 arrived in Martin Bay, Labrador. Its crew waited for fog to set in, and then surfaced and quickly ferried 10 large canisters full of parts to shore. On a hill about 300 meters inland, they set up the equipment, which had been labeled as property of the nonexistent "Canadian Weather Service." They even left empty American cigarette packages lying around to further divert suspicion. Less than 24 hours later, after confirming that the station was broadcasting correctly, the U-boat snuck away. ... Soon after U-537 departed, however, something went wrong with Kurt. ... In 1981, [a retired engineer from Siemens named Franz Selinger who was working on a history of the German weather service] located the remains of the weather station. Although some of the equipment had disappeared, the parts remaining had clearly belonged to Kurt. The station's career had been brief, but it succeeded in staying a secret for almost four decades."