A big step was taken back on Feb. 9th 1870, when President Ulysses S. Grant helped start the National Weather Service. He signed a joint resolution of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to establish a national weather service. When this started the military had 22 telegraph stations throughout the US and they sent reports to Washington D.C. Before the president took action for start a formal service, there were volunteers that helped to record weather data. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington regularly noted their own weather observations on a regular basis?
For a much more detailed list of US weather history, please visit a great source from the NWS. There is a very detailed time line here; http://www.nws.noaa.gov/pa/history/timeline.php