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New Orleans Meteorologist Nash Roberts gives his papers to Loyola

Loyola press release - August 7, 2001

(New Orleans)ó Nash C. Roberts, Jr., will donate his personal papers that he has used to forecast hurricanes since 1947 to the Booth-Bricker Special Collections and Archives at the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library, on the main campus at Loyola University New Orleans. Generations of New Orleans area families have looked to Roberts to keep them posted on storms in the area.

Roberts will present the Rev. Bernard P. Knoth, S. J., university president, with the papers during a ceremony honoring him on Friday, September 7, 2001 at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Monroe Library. During the years spanning his career, he has educated the viewing public about development, tracking process, and disastrous potential of hurricanes. His records, in addition to their scientific value, will greatly enhance the libraryís special collection of material relating to the field of communication.

The records include monitored reconnaissance aircraft reports to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla.; advisories and discussions of the National Hurricane Center; and advisories to the clients of Robertís meteorology service. The service advises oil and gas companies whose businesses are located in the area marshes, coastal waters and offshore and are especially sensitive to storms.

After earning a federal license as an instructor in meteorology, he taught at Loyola and Tulane universities in the early forties. He joined the Navy in World War II and as an ensign in 1943, he was sent to learn about early radar.

In early 1945, Roberts was selected as both navigator and meteorologist on Admiral Chester Nimitzís aircraft. Nimitz was the commander of the Navy in the Pacific Theatre of War. Looking for a way to sail a carrier fleet close enough to Japan to execute an air attack without being detected, an idea was suggested to sail the ships in behind a typhoon. Roberts was the first navigator and meteorologist to plot a typhoon by flying in the eye of one.

After World War II, Roberts moved back to New Orleans to start his weather service and he joined WDSU-TV in 1951. Over the next 22 years he established a reputation for his expertise and reliability in hurricane tracking and predicting. He joined the staff at WVUE-TV for four years. In 1978 he moved to WWL-TV, where he has appeared as the local expert when a hurricane threatened the area until July 2001, when he announced his retirement.

In 1984, Loyola honored Roberts with an honorary doctor of science. In donating his papers to Loyola to Roberts explained he "wanted them to in a place where they could be of use to future generation for research, including in the field of forensic meteorology."

Roberts taught in the Loyola physics department two times. Commenting on his Loyola connections, Roberts said, "When I was a young man just getting into the meteorology field, Loyola gave me the opportunity to teach and this turned out to be invaluable experience. After the war, I came back for one semester to the physics department. Later, while on the Louisiana Board of Education, I looked out for Loyola and then joined the Loyola Library Visiting Committee. It seems I keep coming back to Loyola and have a real soft spot in my heart for it."

The Department of Special Collections and Archives preserves materials related to the history of Louisiana, the South, the Society of Jesus and the university. The collection derives its identity largely from the Jesuit holdings, including the University Archives, the Archives of the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus, and the personal papers of outstanding Jesuits. The papers of WWL-TVís former editorialist, Phil Johnson, were donated by Johnson to the collection in 2000.

Based on the heritage of Catholic Jesuit higher education in Louisiana since 1849, Loyola University New Orleans was chartered in 1912. Today, the university serves approximately 5,550 undergraduate and graduate students. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.