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 6th

1908: A tropical storm formed about 500 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico on this day. The storm Became a Category 2 Hurricane on March 7th. Since 1842, this is the only hurricane to develop in the Atlantic Ocean in March.

1962: The strongest nor’easter of this century struck the Mid-Atlantic Region on March 5-9, 1962. It is known as the “Ash Wednesday Storm” and caused over $200 million (1962 dollars) in property damage and major coastal erosion from North Carolina to Long Island, New York. In New Jersey alone, it was estimated to have destroyed or greatly damaged 45,000 homes. The Red Cross recorded that the storm killed 40 people. It hit during “Spring Tide.” When the sun and moon are in phase, they produce a higher than average astronomical tide. Water reached nine feet at Norfolk (flooding begins around five feet). Houses were toppled into the ocean and boardwalks were broken and twisted. The islands of Chincoteague and Assateague, Maryland were completely underwater.

2004: The central provinces of South Korea were crippled when heavy snow closed roads throughout the region, including many in the country’s capital, Seoul. More snow fell on March 6, 2004, than ever recorded for a single day in March since the Korea Meteorological Administration began keeping records in 1904. According to news reports, the city of Daejon (Taejon) in central South Korea, received 19 inches (49 centimeters) of snow on Friday, with an additional 6 inches (15 centimeters) forecast for Saturday.

2010: At least 7 funnel clouds were observed along the Orange County coast in southern California. Two were spotted near John Wayne Airport.

2017: A line of storms brought widespread wind damage and tornadoes to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and northern Missouri.


WX History: January 2nd

1870: One unofficial source reported the heaviest snowfall ever known in Louisville, Kentucky, piled up to about four feet. That would be more than twice as much as the accepted official record of 22.4 inches set February 4 through 6.

1897: Tornadoes in January? Two tornadoes touched down on this day. The first tornado touched down in the town of Mooringsport, Louisiana, killing five people and injuring 21 others. The second tornado occurred at Benton, Arkansas. Although this tornado was more destructive regards to property damage, it caused one death.

Source: Thomas Grazulis book, “Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991.”

1955: Hurricane Alice passed through the Islands of Saint Martin and Saba in the Caribbean Sea on this day. Alice, which developed on December 30, 1954, is the only known Atlantic hurricane to span two calendar years.

Shown above is a PPI scope image from an SPS-6 radar on the USS MIDWAY at 2330 GMT on January 1st, 1955.
Above is the Hurricane Alica storm track.

Source: Monthly Weather Review.




WX History: August 16th

1777: The Battle of Bennington, delayed a day by rain, was fought. The rain-delayed British reinforcements and allowed the Vermont Militia to arrive in time, enabling the Americans to win a victory by defeating two enemy forces, one at a time.

1992: One of the most destructive United States hurricanes of record started modestly as a tropical wave that emerged from the west coast of Africa on August 14. The wave spawned a tropical depression on August 16, which became Tropical Storm Andrew the next day.


Aug 16, 1992 Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew on August 23 at 1231 UTC. This image was produced from data from NOAA-12, provided by NOAA.


Source: National Hurricane Center.


WX History: August 15th

1787: Tornadoes were reported in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Wethersfield, Connecticut was hard hit by the tornado outbreak. There, a woman and her family were caught in the open. She and her son were killed. Clothes from the family farm were carried three miles away. This event is regarded to be the most significant tornado outbreak in early New England history.

August 15, 1787 - Earlist Known Tornado Outbreak(1)

1886: A tornado moved northeast from 5 miles southwest of Newark, South Dakota, through town and into North Dakota. Only three buildings were reportedly undamaged at Newark, and a bartender at a saloon was killed. Three people died in two homes on adjoining farms 2 miles southwest of town. A saddle from a Newark stable was carried for a half mile. In North Dakota, homes and barns were damaged along the Wild River. This tornado was estimated as an F3.

1983: Hurricane Alicia formed on this day and was the costliest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic since Hurricane Agnes in 1972. It struck Galveston and Houston, Texas directly, causing $2.6 billion (1983 USD) in damage and killing 21 people. This storm was the worst Texas hurricane since Hurricane Carla in 1961. Also, Alicia was the first billion-dollar tropical cyclone in Texas history.


Aug 15, 1983 Hurricane Alicia
Thermal infrared image of Hurricane Alica making landfall on August 18 at 0800 UTC.


Source: Weather Prediction Center.

WX History: August 14th

1898: A deadly, estimated F4 tornado moved southeast from 12 miles northwest of Clear Lake in South Dakota, passing 7 miles north of town and ending about 4 miles west of Gary. Deaths occurred on two farms. One man was killed when the kitchen of his farm house was torn off. Five members of one family were killed along with two labors on another farm as every building was swept away. Buildings suffered massive damage on eight farms. This tornado was one of the earliest, estimated F4 tornadoes on record for South Dakota.

1953: Hurricane Barbara hits North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane. Damage from the storm was relatively minor, totaling around $1.3 million (1953 USD). Most of it occurred in North Carolina and Virginia from crop damage. The hurricane left several injuries, some traffic accidents, as well as seven fatalities in the eastern United States; at least two were due to electrocution from downed power lines. Offshore Atlantic Canada, a small boat sunk, killing its crew of two.


Aug 14, 1953 Hurricane Barbara
Surface weather analysis of Hurricane Barbara on 14 August 1953.


1969: Hurricane Camille, a powerful, deadly, and destructive hurricane formed just west of the Cayman Islands on this day. It rapidly intensified, and by the time it reached western Cuba the next day, it was a Category 3 hurricane.


Aug 14, 1969 Hurricane Camille
Hurricane Camille was spawned on August 5th by a tropical wave off the coast of Africa. The storm became a tropical disturbance four days later on the 9th and a tropical storm on the 14th. The image is courtesy of the USGS.


1975: In London, England, a localized torrential downpour known as The Hampstead Storm, drops 6.72 inches of rain in 155 minutes at Hampstead Heath. One died in the storm. The water floods the Underground and forces sewer covers up.

WX History: August 13th

1831: The Great Barbados Hurricane was an intense Category 4 hurricane that left cataclysmic damage across the Caribbean and Louisiana in 1831. From August 11 through the 13, Bermudians were amazed to see the sun with a decidedly blue appearance, giving off an eerie blue light when it shone into rooms and other enclosed places. Ships at sea as far west as Cape Hatteras reported that “their white sails appeared a light blue colour.” A month later it was learned that the astounding blue sunlight had coincided with a terrible hurricane that caused 1,477 people to lose their lives. It was assumed that the hurricane was intensive enough to cause an unusual disturbance in the higher atmospheric strata, and refraction, diffraction or absorption of light rays, to cause the blue reflection. Because the sun appeared bluish-green, Nat Turner took this as the final signal and began a slave rebellion a week later on August 21.

Source: NOAA Hurricane Research Division

1987: A succession of thunderstorms produced rainfall that was unprecedented in 116 years of precipitation records at Chicago, Illinois during an 18 hour period from the evening of the 13th to the early afternoon of the 14th. The resulting flash flood was the worst ever to strike the Chicago metropolitan area, causing three deaths and water damage that amounted to 221 million dollars. O’Hare International Airport received an event total of 9.35 inches of rain in 18 hours, shattering the previous 24-hour record of 6.24 inches. For about 24 hours, the airport was only accessible from the air as all roads were blocked by high water, including the Kennedy Expressway.


Source: Eyewitness to History: Record rainfall, floods in 1987 – ABC7 Chicago.

1991:  Stockton, California received 0.05 inch of rainfall on this day. Since 1949, this is the only measured rainfall in Stockton on August 13th.

2003: A string of days in Paris France with temperatures from the 4th to the 12th above 95°F ends when the day’s high drops to 90°F. During the long, hot summer which began 25 July and has registered several days above 100°F, an estimated 14,800 have died from heat-related causes, the French government admits.

Source: NASA’s Earth Observatory.

2014: An official, New York State 24 hour precipitation record was set at Islip, NY on August 12-13 when 13.57″ of rain fell.

 Source: NWS Office in New York.

WX History: August 12th

1752: The following is from the Journals of the Rev. Thomas Smith, and the Rev. Samuel Deane, published in 1849. “In the evening there was dismal thunder and lightning, and abundance of rain, and such a hurricane as was never the like in these parts of the world.” This hurricane struck Portland, Maine. 

Aug 12, 1752 Portland, Maine Hurricane

Source: Journals of the Rev. Thomas Smith, and the Rev. Samuel Deane, pastors of the First church in Portland: with notes and biographical notices: and a Summary history of Portland

1974: Two violent tornadoes produced F4 damage in eastern Iowa. The first struck southern sections of Ryan in Delaware County damaging or destroying several dozen homes, Saint Patricks Church, a school, and two businesses. The church and 20 of the homes were completely destroyed and 12 people were injured in Ryan. The second tornado struck rural areas southeast of Ladora in Iowa County injuring 2 people and completely sweeping away a farm house.

Aug 12, 1974 Ryan Iowa Tornado
The F4 tornado that would hit Ryan, Iowa on August 12th, 1974. Image courtesy of Brian Oberreuter.

Source: CBS2iowa.com

2004: Hurricane Charley was the third named storm and the second hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. Charley lasted from August 9 to August 15, and at its peak intensity, it attained 150 mph winds, making it a strong Category 4 hurricane. It made landfall in southwestern Florida on August 13th at maximum strength, making it the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States since Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in 1992.

Aug 12, 2004 Hurricane Charley
The MODIS sensor aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of Hurricane Charley on August 13 at 12:35 PM, EDT.

Source: NWS Office in Miami.

WX History: August 11th


1940: A Category 2 hurricane struck the Georgia and South Carolina coast. A 13-foot storm tide was measured along the South Carolina coast, while over 15 inches of rain fell across northern North Carolina. Significant flooding and landslides struck Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia during the system’s slow trek as a weakening tropical storm, and then as an extratropical cyclone, through the Southeast. The landslides which struck North Carolina were considered a once in a century event.

Aug 11, 1940 Hurricane Georgia SC

Source: Southeast Hurricane: August 10-18, 1940 by the Weather Prediction Center.

1999: An F2 tornado touched down in the metropolitan area of Salt Lake City. The tornado lasted ten minutes and killed one person, injured more than 80 people, and caused more than $170 million in damages. It was the most destructive tornado in Utah’s history and awakened the entire state’s population to the fact that the Beehive State does experience tornadoes.

Aug 11, 1999 Salt Lake City Tornado

Source: NWS Office in Salt Lake City and TornadoTalk.com.


WX History: August 10th

1856: A hurricane destroyed Isle Dernieres or Last Island, a pleasure resort south-southwest of New Orleans on this day. The highest points of the island were under five feet of water. The resort hotel was destroyed, along with the island’s gambling establishments. Over 200 people perished, and the island lost all its vegetation and split in half. Only one cow remained on the island after the catastrophe. The Last Island is now only a haven for pelicans and other sea birds. The steamer Nautilus foundered during the storm. The lone survivor clung to a bale of cotton and washed ashore sometime later.

Aug 10, 1856 Isle of Derniere

Source(s): A Hurricane Destroyed This Louisiana Resort Town, Never to Be Inhabited Again – smithsonianmag.com

Clipped from The Times-Picayune,  15 Aug 1856, Fri,  FRIDAY’S AFTERNOON EDITION,  Page 2 – Tom Malmay.

1884: An earthquake, centered near New York City and registering a magnitude 5.5, hit the region a little after 2 PM. The tremor made houses shake, chimneys fall, and residents wonder what the heck was going on, according to a New York Times article two days later.

Aug 10, 1884 New York Earthquake

Source: Historical Earthquakes – USGS.gov

1886: An estimated F3 tornado moved southeast from 10 miles northwest of Aberdeen. This massive tornado destroyed four homes and a dozen barns. This is the earliest significant tornado on record for Brown County.