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 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 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 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.

WX History: March 7th

1717: A series of snowstorms between February 27 and March 7 blanketed the New England colonies with five or more feet of snow. Click HERE for more information from the New England Historical Society.

March 7, 1717 Deep Snow

1970: Last near total eclipse of the sun in Washington, DC in this century. Sun was 95% eclipsed.


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: March 5th

1894: The low temperature of 36 degrees at San Diego, California on this day was their lowest on record for March.

March 5, 1894 Low in San Diego

1959: Near blizzard conditions occurred over northern and central Oklahoma during a winter storm on March 5, 1959. Up to 7 inches of snow accumulated and winds up to 50 mph created snow drifts four to eight feet deep. In Edmond, a bus slid off the road into a ditch and overturned, injuring 16 people. 

In Iowa, the record-breaking snowstorm on March 4-6 began with light snow in western Iowa on the morning of the 4th then spread across the state and intensified with heavy snow falling from the night of the 4th, through the 5th, and into early morning on the 6th in eastern Iowa. The amount of snowfall and its subsequent effects were less severe in western Iowa and grew progressively worse moving eastward. In central Iowa, snowfall amounts were generally 6 to 10 inches, while in eastern Iowa a swath of about 12 to 20 inches of snow fell roughly from Appanoose County through Tama County and northeast to Allamakee County. Reported storm total snowfall amounts included 12.9 inches at Waterloo, 14.5 inches at Decorah, 16.0 inches at Oelwein, 17.0 inches at Oskaloosa, 17.6 inches at Dubuque, 19.8 inches at Marshalltown where 17.8 inches fell in just 24 hours, and 22.0 inches at Fayette where 21.0 inches fell in 24 hours. Winds strengthened steadily during the storm with speeds reaching 30 to 50 mph at times and causing extensive blowing and drifting of snow. Drifts 6 to 10 feet deep were common and in northeastern Iowa, a few locations reported drifts 15 to 20 feet deep.

March 3-5, 1959 Snow Storm
A general snowfall map courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.


1966: A plane crashes near Mount Fuji in Japan after encountering severe turbulence. The pilot veered a few miles off course to give the passengers a better view of Mount Fuji when it tremendous wind gusts. All 124 people on board the aircraft were killed. Click HERE for more information from BBC.

March 5, 1966 Mount Fiji Plane Crash
The image above shows the crash of the Boeing 707. The image is courtesy of BBC.

1989: A F2 tornado killed one person and injured six others in Heard County, Georgia. A stronger, F3 tornado injured 23 persons and caused more than 5 million dollars damage around Grantville, Georgia.

March 5, 1989 Georgia Tornado Tracks
The image above is courtesy of Storm Data.




WX History: March 2nd

1927: Raleigh, North Carolina was buried under 17.8 inches of snow in 24 hours, a record for that location until 2000. On January 25, 2000, Raleigh saw 17.9 inches of snow in 24 hours.

1988: Thunderstorms produced severe weather in the south-central U.S. A tornado in Baton Rouge, Louisiana injured two persons, and another tornado caused $5 million in damages at the airport in Lafayette, Louisiana.

March 2, 1988 Lafayette Tornado
The barograph trace above is from the airport at Lafayette, LA. It shows an instantaneous pressure drop of 0.24 inches as the tornado passed. An 83 mph wind gust was also observed. The F1 tornado traveled 0.8 miles.

1990: Twenty-two ships were trapped by ice in the worst ice jam in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 10 years. The ice was 23 feet thick.

2012: A violent tornado approaches Henryville, Indiana.