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 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: August 18th

1925: During the late morning hours a severe hailstorm struck southeastern Iowa completely destroying crops along a path six to ten miles wide and 75 miles long. The hail also injured and killed poultry and livestock, and caused a total of 2.5 million dollars damage. The hailstorm flattened fields of corn to such an extent that many had to leave their farms in search of other work.

1931: The Yangtze River in China crests during a horrible flood that kills 3.7 million people directly and indirectly over the next several months. This flood was perhaps the worst natural disaster of the 20th century.

Source: History Channel.

WX History: August 9th

1878: The second deadliest tornado in New England history struck Wallingford, Connecticut, killing 34 persons, injuring 100 others, and completely destroying thirty homes. The tornado started as a waterspout over a dam on the Quinnipiac River. It was 400 to 600 feet wide and had a short path length of two miles. The deadliest New England tornado occurred in 1953 when an F4 killed 90 people in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Aug 9, 1878 Wallingford Tornado
Artist’s conception of the tornado damage from the Wallingford Tornado of 1878. The illustration was first published in Harper’s Weekly, 1878.

Source: The Great Wallingford Tornado – Connecticut History.org

1969: An F3 tornado hit the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, killing four people. The tornado moved in a southeasterly direction at 40 to 50 mph.

1992: An F2 tornado caused significant damage to the town of Chester, South Dakota shortly after 7 pm CDT. Four businesses were destroyed, three others had major damage, and five had minor damage. An elevator and new grain bin were leveled, and another bin was heavily damaged. Most of the building housing the fire department was demolished. In one instance a steel beam was thrust through a garage and into the car inside. One mile north of Chester, an entire house was moved off the foundation. The town had to be evacuated for 19 hours after the tornado because the tornado damaged a 12,000-gallon ammonia tank releasing 4,000 gallons of the liquid gas into the air. To the south of Chester, the storm destroyed a new convenience store and blew two fuel tanks over 100 yards.



WX History: August 1st

1983: During the early afternoon hours, a strong microburst swept across Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.  Although the base anemometer was not calibrated at extreme wind speeds, the peak gust hit 149 mph. It was reported that Air Force One, with President Reagan on board, landed 6 minutes before the peak gust.

Source: Capital Weather Gang

1985: A devastating flash flood and hailstorm struck Cheyenne, Wyoming during the evening of August 1st, 1985. Twelve people lost their lives and damage was estimated to be in excess of $65 million. The NWS Office in Cheyenne measured 6.06 inches in 24 hours. Hail, up to 2 inches in diameter pummeled parts of the city, reaching depths of nearly a foot deep. 

Aug 1, 1985 Cheyenne Flood

Source: Meteorological Analysis of the Cheyenne, Wyoming, Flash Flood and Hailstorm of 1 August 1985 – NOAA Technical Report.




WX History: June 29th

1904: Tornado hits Karacharov Village area of Moscow killing about 24 people.

June 29, 1904 Russia Tornado

Source: Englishrussia.com

1998: A derecho which originated in far southeast South Dakota moved across Illinois during the afternoon and evening and continued as far east as Ohio the next morning. Every county in central Illinois sustained some damage, as these severe thunderstorms passed. Winds gusted in the 60 to 80 mph range, with some localized microbursts producing winds more than 100 mph. Significant damage occurred in the microburst areas, including the towns of Morton, McLean, LeRoy, and Tolono. In Tolono, 22 cars of a southbound 101-car Illinois Central freight train were blown off the tracks. It was unknown how many cars were picked up by the wind, but 16 cars were turned over, and another six derailed but remained upright. The train was en route to Centralia from Chicago with a load of mixed freight, including plastic pellets and meal. The freight cars empty weighed about 60,000 pounds, while a full one weighs about 260,000 pounds. Overall, 12 people were injured, and damage was estimated around $16 million dollars.

June 29, 1998 Corn Belt Derecho

Source: Storm Prediction Center.



WX History: June 24th

1929: In Durban, South Africa, a storm drops hailstones the size of baseballs. The rattle produced by the storm is described as sounding like “machine gun fire.”

June 24, 1929 Durban, South Africa Hail

Source: NOAA Photo Library.

1975:  An Eastern Airlines Boeing 727 crashed at JFK airport in New York City. 113 of the 124 people on board the aircraft died. Researcher Theodore Fujita studied the incident and discovered that a microburst caused the crash. His research led to improved air safety. The tower never experienced the microburst, which was held back by a sea-breeze front. The plane crashed 2,400 feet short of the runway.

Source: History.com

2003: An F4 tornado destroyed or heavily damaged all buildings, other structures, and vehicles in the small town of Manchester, in Kingsbury County. Many homes were stripped to the foundation. Of the six residents of the town, four were injured and were transported to hospitals. Three were deemed to be severely injured, but none of the injuries were listed as life-threatening. Throughout the path, the tornado was observed to have multiple vortices. The tornado was seen and videotaped by many storm chasers and researchers. Researchers also deployed weather sensors around the town of Manchester. One of these sensors recorded a 100 millibar pressure drop as the tornado passed. This tornado was part of a larger outbreak in eastern South Dakota, which experienced a record 67 tornadoes within an eight-hour time frame.

Source: NWS Office in Sioux Falls. Video from Reed Timmer.

WX History: June 22nd

1919: The second deadliest tornado in Minnesota’s history occurred on this day. 59 people were killed as an estimated F5 tornado ripped through the town of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. 400 buildings were destroyed. A blank check was found over 60 miles away, and lumber was carried 10 miles. Of the 59 victims, 35 were guests of the Grand Hotel.

June 22, 1916 Fergus Falls Tornado
Digging through the debris of the Grand Hotel. 

Source: GenDisaster.com

1928: A farmer near Greensburg, KS looked up into the heart of a tornado. He described its walls as “rotating clouds lit with constant flashes of lightning and a strong gassy odor with a screaming, hissing sound.”

Source: Seeing the Inside of a Tornado – NOAA History.

2003: A hailstone measuring 7.0 inches in diameter with a circumference of 18.75 inches and weighing 1.33 pounds falls in Aurora, Nebraska. The National Weather Service reports this is the second largest hailstone ever documented in the U.S. by weight, and the largest by size at that time. The world’s largest hailstone NOW was produced from storms in South Dakota; 8″ in diameter and 1.9375 lbs. on July 23, 2010.

June 22, 2003 Aurora Hailstone
The image above is courtesy of the National Center for Environmental Information.

2007: The first officially documented F5 tornado in Canada struck the town of Elie, Manitoba population 500 people. Video of the storm showed a heavy van being whirled through the air. The storm also tossed an almost entire house several hundred yards through the air before it disintegrated. The tornado traveled across the landscape for about 35 minutes covering 3.4 miles and leaving a damage path 984 feet wide. Wind speeds in the tornado were later estimated at 260-316 mph. Fortunately, no fatalities or serious injuries were reported.

Source: Capital Weather Gang.

WX History: June 20th


Source: Howard County Historical Society.

1957: An F5 tornado cut a swath through Fargo, North Dakota killing 10 and injuring at least 103 people. This tornado was the northernmost confirmed F5 tornado until the Elie, Manitoba tornado on June 22, 2007.

June 20, 1957 Fargo Tornado path

Source(s): NDSU University Archives and Detailed Analysis of the Fargo Tornadoes.


1989: A meteorological “hot flash” hit Pierre, South Dakota. Descending air from collapsing thunderstorms caused the temperature in Pierre to warm from 86 degrees at midnight to 96 at one a.m. and to 104 at 2 a.m. Pierre’s record high for the date of 105 degrees in 1974.

1970: Nesbyen, Norway reached 96 degrees on this day, becoming the warmest temperature recorded in Norway.

2001: Large hail driven by strong thunderstorm winds raked Denver International and front-range airports. Wind gusting to 54 mph along with hail as large 2 inches in diameter punched at least 14 thousand holes and cracks in the flat roofs of several buildings at Denver International Airport. Also, 93 planes and hundreds of cars were damaged. About 100 flights had to be canceled stranding 1500 travelers. The Airport was completely shut down for about 20 minutes. The storm also damaged ground avoidance radar used to track planes on the ground to prevent collisions. Damage was estimated at 10 million dollars not counting the damage to the 93 airliners. The storm moved south and struck Watkins Colorado with hail as large as 2 1/2 inches in diameter and winds gusting to 60 mph.