WX History: March 20th

1948: An F3 tornado tracked through Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, OK just before 10 p.m. destroying 54 aircraft, including 17 transport planes valued at $500,000 dollars apiece. Total damage amounted to more than $10 million dollars, a record for the state that stood until the massive tornado outbreak of 5/3/1999. Major Ernest W. Fawbush and Captain Robert C. Miller were ordered to see if operationally forecasting tornadoes were possible. The tornado prompted the first attempt at tornado forecasting. Forecasters at Tinker believed conditions were again favorable for tornadoes and issued the first recorded tornado forecast. Five days later on 3/25 at 6 pm, a forecasted tornado occurred, crossing the prepared base and damage was minimized. The successful, albeit somewhat lucky forecast, paved the way for tornado forecasts to be issued by the U.S. Weather Bureau after a long ban.

March 20, 1948 Tinker AFB Tornado Damage
Airplanes destroyed by the first Tinker Air Force Base tornado.

Source: Tornado Forecasting.

 1948: On March 20th through the 21st, the city of Juneau received 31.6 inches of snow in 24 hours, a record for the Alaska Capitol.

March 20 Juneau Snow
Above is the Monthly Climatological Summary for Juneau in March 1948.

1998: A deadly tornado outbreak occurred over portions of the southeastern United States on this day. Particularly hard hit were rural areas outside of Gainesville, Georgia, where at least 12 people were killed during the early morning hours. The entire outbreak killed 14 people and produced 12 tornadoes across three states with the town of Stoneville, North Carolina being also hard hit by the storms.

March 20, 1998 Stoneville Tornado
The photo is the F3, Stoneville tornado as it crossed US 220 and began entering Stoneville, NC from the southwest.

Source: NCSU.

2006: Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry made landfall between Townsville and Cairns on Australia’s northeast coast. While no fatalities or serious injuries were reported, this storm caused extensive damage to Australia’s banana crops.




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