WX History: March 21st

1801: The Jefferson Flood hit the Connecticut Valley. The flooding was the greatest since 1692. The Federalists named the flood for the new President, who they blamed for the disaster. 

1932: A tornado swarm occurred in the Deep South. Between late afternoon and early the next morning, severe thunderstorms spawned 31 tornadoes in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. The tornadoes killed 334 persons and injured 1784 others. Northern Alabama was hardest hit. Tornadoes in Alabama killed 286 persons and caused five million dollars damage.

March 21, 1932 Deep South Tornado
This photograph was taken by W. M. Russell of Boothton, Alabama.

Source: NWS Office in Birmingham, AL.

1968: Snow fell over parts of Louisiana and eastern Texas. 

2017: GOES-16, 30-second imagery of severe storms across the Southeast.


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. The town of Stoneville, North Carolina 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.



WX History: March 19th

1907: The highest March temperature in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was set when the temperature soared to 97 degrees. Dodge City, Kansas also set a March record with 98 degrees.

1948: An estimated F4 tornado moved through Fosterburg, Bunker Hill, and Gillespie, Illinois, killing 33 people and injuring 449 others. 2,000 buildings in Bunker Hill were damaged or destroyed. Total damage was $3.6 million dollars.

March 19, 1948 Bunker Hill Tornado 2
A view of the business district in Bunker Hill, Illinois after the tornado.
March 19, 1948 Bunker Hill Tornado
A view of Meissner School in Bunker Hill, Illinois.

Source: Bunker Hill Library.

2003: On this day in 2003, one of the worst blizzards, since records began in 1872, struck the Denver metro. Heavy snow accumulating to around 3 feet in the city and more than 7 feet in the foothills brought transportation to near standstill.

March 19, 2003 Denver Snow

Source: NWS Office in Boulder, CO.

2012: From March 17 through March 22, Buffalo, New York saw record high temperatures, including three days with highs reaching the lower 80s.

2014: A Magnitude 3.0 earthquake occurred near Summerville, South Carolina.

WX History: March 18th

1925: Today is the anniversary of the “Tri-State Tornado.” The storm claimed 695 lives (including 234 at Murphysboro, IL and 148 at West Frankfort, IL), making it the deadliest tornado in US history. It cut a swath of destruction 219 miles long and as much as a mile wide from east-central Missouri to southern Indiana between 1 PM and 4 PM. The tornado leveled a school in West Frankfort, Illinois and picked up sixteen students setting them down unharmed 150 yards away. Seven other tornadoes claimed an additional 97 lives that day.

Click HERE for a Facebook video by Nick Stewart at KHQA.

US Tornadoes.com
NWS Office in Paducah, KY.
NWS Office in St. Louis, MO
NWS Office in Nashville, TN

1927: An estimated F4 tornado destroyed the southern half Green Forecast, Arkansas. Damage totaled $500,000 in that town as 200 homes were damaged or destroyed. This tornado, up to a mile wide at times killed 24 people long it’s 35-mile long path. 

Source: Significant Tornadoes 1860-1991 by Thomas P. Grazulis

1952: 151.73 inches of rain fell at Cilaos, La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean over a five-day period (13th-18th) to set the world rainfall record. This record was broken on February 24th-28th, 2007 when Commerce La Reunion Island picked up 196.06 inches.

1990: An intense hailstorm struck the Sydney region in Australia producing strong winds and torrential rains in a swath from Camden to Narrabeen, causing extensive damage. Hailstones were measured up to 3 inches in diameter. The total insured damage was estimated at $319 million Australian dollars, the third largest loss event in Australian insurance history.
Source: Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub.

2013: Large hail up to softball size fell in Clinton, Mississippi. The hailstone is the 3rd largest in March in Mississippi since 1950, only surpassed by grapefruit size hail that fell on March 30th, 1993 in Puckett, MS and on March 6th, 1996 in Laurel, MS. It was also the 7th largest hailstone to fall in Mississippi for any month, with the largest hailstone of 5.0 inches, or CD/DVD size, in Lafayette County on April 10th, 1962.

Source: NWS Office in Jackson, MS.

2017: The Delta IV rocket was captured by GOES-16.

WX History: March 17th

1892: A winter storm in southwestern and central Tennessee produced 18.7 inches of snow at Riddleton, 18.0 inches at Memphis, and 17 inches in Nashville. The snowfall amounts at Memphis and Nashville are still their most in a 24-hour period.  According to the Daily Tobacco Leaf-Chronicle’s Saturday Evening edition on March 19, 1892, this winter storm impacted Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. More research will be done on this extraordinary event. 

Source: NWS Office in Nashville, TN.

1906: A magnitude 7.1 earthquake caused significant damage in Taiwan. According to the Central Weather Bureau in China, this earthquake caused 1,258 deaths, 2,385 injuries, and destroyed over 6,000 homes.

Source: The History Channel.

1952: The ban on using the word “tornado” issued in 1886 ended on this date. In the 1880s, John P. Finley of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, then handling weather forecasting for the U.S., developed generalized forecasts on days tornadoes were most likely. But in 1886, the Army ended Finley’s program and banned the word “tornado” from forecasts because the harm done by a tornado prediction would eventually be greater than that which results from the tornado itself?. The thinking was that people would be trampled in the panic if they heard a tornado was possible. The ban stayed in place after the Weather Bureau, now the National Weather Service took over forecasting from the Army. A tornado that wrecked 52 large aircraft at Tinker Air Force Base, OK, on 3/20/1948, spurred Air Force meteorologists to begin working on ways to forecast tornadoes. The Weather Bureau also began looking for ways to improve tornado forecasting and established the Severe Local Storm Warning Center, which is now the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK. The ban on the word “tornado” fell on this date when the new center issued its first Tornado Watch.

Source: The Birth and Early Years of the Storm Prediction Center.

WX History: March 16th

1942: A deadly tornado outbreak occurred over the Central and Southern US on March 16-17th. The tornado outbreak killed 153 people and injured at least 1,284. The best estimate indicates this event contained 13 F3 tornadoes, 6 F4s, and one F5. The F5 tornado occurred north of Peoria, Illinois, in the towns of Alta, Chillicothe before crossing the Illinois River and striking the town of Lacon. A quarter of the homes in Lacon were destroyed, and debris was carried for 25 miles. 

In Kentucky, an estimated F3 tornado destroyed the Cox’s Creek Baptist Church, which is southeast of Louisville.

March 16, 1942 Lacon IL Tornado
The photograph above is the tornado that would eventually hit Lacon, IL. This photo was taken near Spring Bay.

Sources: NWS Office in Lincoln, IL,  Genealogytrails.com, Bullitt Country History

1986: A small but rare F1 tornado touched down perilously close to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The 1.25-mile long track damaged several homes and an industrial plant just northeast of the landmark.

March 16, 1986 Disneyland Tornado
The tornado track map above is courtesy of Storm Data.

Source: March 1986 Storm Data

2012: Temperatures reaching eighty degrees or higher in March across central and northeast South Dakota is a rare occurrence, and for this to occur in mid-March is exceedingly rare. On March 16th, several locations across the area set record highs by topping the 80-degree mark including Aberdeen, Mobridge, and Pierre. Sisseton and Watertown also set records for March 16th. Aberdeen topped out at 81 degrees, Mobridge reached 83 degrees, with 86 degrees at Pierre.

Source: NWS Office in Aberdeen, SD

2017: Satellite images of the eruption of snow-capped Mount Etna.


WX History: March 15th

1938: A tornado hit McPaul, Iowa while moving from southeast to northwest. Another tornado raced through Batesville, Illinois at 60 to 65 mph. Another tornado causing F4 damage killed 10 and injured 12 in St. Clair County, Missouri. This tornado was part of an outbreak that produced four different tornadoes and was responsible for 11 deaths and 42 injuries.

Source: Monthly Weather Review.

1952: On Reunion Island, some 400 miles east of Madagascar, 127.56 inches of rain fell in a three-day period. This set a world record for the most rain in 72 hours. Also from the 15th to the 16th, 73.62 inches of rain fell in this 24 hours period at Cilaos, La Reunion Island in the South Indian Ocean to set a world record. 

1984: Severe storms crossed Arkansas on this today. An F4 tornado was responsible for destroying the Highway 16 bridge by lifting it and throwing it into Greers Ferry Lake.


WX History: March 14th

1933: A deadly tornado outbreak affected the Middle Tennessee region, including Nashville on this day. The outbreak, which produced five or more tornadoes, killed 44 people and injured at least 461 others. The strongest tornado, F3, cut a path through the center of Nashville. About 1,400 homes were damaged or destroyed. Windows were blown out of the State Capitol Building. 

March 14, 1933 Nashville Tornado
Above is the entrance to the Auditorium of the Bailey High School. The auditorium’s walls were forced outward, allowing the roof to cave in.

Source: NWS Office in Nashville, TN.

1959: Tornadoes struck Arkansas, killing two people.

2008: An EF2 tornado moved through downtown Atlanta, Georgia shortly before 10 pm damaging the Georgia Dome where the SEC men’s basketball tournament was underway.

March 14, 2008 Atlanta Tornado
The tornado track map above is courtesy of the NWS Office in Atlanta, GA.

Source: NWS Office in Atlanta, Georgia.

2017: A nor’easter impacted New England.

A waterspout was seen near Briny Breezes in South Florida.


A quick-moving system on Sunday night, March 12 into early Monday, March 13, brought widespread snow, before lake effect snow started Monday night and persisted through Tuesday, March 14.  This lake effect snow was oriented into northeast Illinois for a lengthy period, which is rare, as Michigan and northwest Indiana are typically the more favored locations for lake effect snow. 

WX History: March 10th

1884: John Park Finley issued the first experimental tornado prediction. Finley had studied the atmospheric parameters that were present during previous tornadoes. Many of these same criteria are still used by operational forecasters today. But the use of tornado forecasts would be banned just a few years later and would remain banned until 1952.


March 10, 1884 1st Tornado Prediction Newspaper


1986: A total of 19 tornadoes struck Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. Three of the tornadoes in Indiana reached F3 intensity. A densely populated subdivision of Southeast Lexington, Kentucky was heavily damaged by a tornado. Twenty people were injured, and 900 homes were destroyed or demolished. A very strong thunderstorm downburst hit the Cincinnati area. At the Greater Cincinnati Airport, windows were blown out of the control tower, injuring the six controllers on duty. At Newport, Kentucky, 120 houses were destroyed from winds estimated from 100 to 140 mph. Click HERE for more information from the NWS Office in Louisville, Kentucky.


WX History: March 9th

1891: From March 9th through the 13th, a blizzard struck southern England and Wales with gale force winds. 220 people were killed; 65 ships foundered in the English Channel, and 6,000 sheep perished. Countless trees were uprooted and trains buried. Up to a foot of snow and snowdrifts of 11.5 feet were reported in Dulwich, London, Torquay, Sidmouth, and Dartmouth.

Source: National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

1956: A whopping 367 inches of snow was measured on the ground at the Rainier Paradise Ranger Station in Washington. The snow depth was a state record and the second highest total on record for the continental U.S.

March 9, 1956 Rainier Paradise Snow Depth

1957: An earthquake measuring a magnitude 8.6 struck the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. A Pacific-wide tsunami was generated that caused $5 million dollars of damage in Hawaii, but fortunately, no lives were lost. Hardest hit was the island of Kauai, where houses were destroyed and roads washed away. Waves reached 34.1 feet high at Haena, HI.