WX History: June 5th

1976: When water began leaking from Idaho’s new Teton Dam, there seemed to be no cause for alarm. On this date, warnings were frantic that the dam was about to break. As workers tried to shore up the crumbling dam, it crumbled shortly after 11 AM, sending 180 billion gallons of water pouring through Teton Canyon. 11 people lost their lives, but the toll would have been much higher if the dam had failed at night and residents had been asleep.

June 5, 1976 Teton Dam Collapse

June 5th 1976 Teton Dam Collapse

Source(s): USGS.gov and WaterArchives.org.

2015: Phoenix, Arizona measured just 0.16 inches of precipitation on this day. Yet this was the most rainfall they received on June 5th, since 1934.

WX History: June 1st

1903: During the early afternoon, one of the most destructive tornadoes in the history of Georgia up to this time, struck the outskirts of Gainesville. The track of the storm was about four miles in length and varied between 100 to 200 feet in width. The tornado touched down about one mile southwest of Gainesville, striking a large cotton mill at 12:45 pm, Eastern Time, just 10 minutes after 750 employees filed into the great structure from dinner. On the top floor of the mill were employed 250 children, and it was here that the greatest loss of life occurred.

June 1, 1903 Gaineville Tornado Path
The dotted lines in the image above contain the estimated tornado track. The image is courtesy of the Monthly Weather Review.
June 1, 1903 Gaineville Tornado Damage
Above is the cotton mill where most of the deaths occurred. This estimated F4 tornado killed 98 people and injured at least 200 others.

Source(s): The Monthly Weather Review and GenDisasters.com

1919: Snowfall of almost a half-inch fell at Denver, Colorado. This storm produced their greatest 24-hour snowfall recorded in the month of June. Two temperature records were set: The low temperature of 32 degrees was a record low for the date, and the high of only 40 degrees was a record low maximum. Cheyenne, Wyoming recorded 1.6 inches of snow, which is one of only six times that at least one inch of snow has fallen at Cheyenne in June.

1947

1934: June started off on a warm note as high temperatures surpassed the century mark across parts of the Midwest. Several locations tied or set a record high temperatures for June including Rockford, IL: 106°, Mather, WI: 105°, Hatfield, WI: 103°, Mondovi, WI: 102°, Chicago, IL: 102° and Grand Rapids, MI tied their June record high with 102°.June 1, 1934 June warmth.jpg

1999: A tornado with an intermittent damage path destroyed 200 homes, businesses, and other buildings in the southern portion of St. James, Missouri. Of these, 33 homes were destroyed along with the St. James Golf Course clubhouse and two Missouri Department of Transportation buildings. The tornado then moved east, south of the downtown St. James area and intensified. F2 to F3 damage occurred with a 200 to 300-yard damage path. Several homes and farm buildings were severely damaged or destroyed. Further north, severe thunderstorms produced many tornadoes around central Illinois. The most intense tornado touched down in Montgomery County south of Farmersville and moved into southwest Christian County. One person was killed when a semi-trailer overturned at a rest area on I-55. Across eastern parts of the state, high winds up to 70 mph caused damage to trees, power lines, and some buildings. The Mattoon area also reported flooding from these storms, producing $3 million dollars damage. 

2011

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WX History: May 27th

1771: In Virginia, a wall of water came roaring down the James River Valley following ten to twelve days of intense rain. As water swept through Richmond, buildings, boats, animals, and vegetation were lost. About one hundred fifty people were killed as the River reached a flood stage of forty-five feet above normal. A monument to the flood was inscribed by Ryland Randolph, of Curles, in 1771-72: ” … all the great rivers of this country were swept by inundations never before experienced which changed the face of nature and left traces of violence that will remain for ages.”

Source: The Flood of 1771 – Historical Marker Database.

1896: A massive tornado struck Saint Louis, Missouri killing 255 people and caused thirteen million dollars damage. The tornado path was short but cut across a densely populated area. It touched down six miles west of Eads Bridge in Saint Louis and widened to a mile as it crossed into East Saint Louis. The tornado was the most destructive of record in the U.S. at that time. It pierced a five-eighths inch thick iron sheet with a two by four-inch pine plank. A brilliant display of lightning accompanied the storm.

May 27, 1890 St. Louis TornadoSources: National Centers for Environmental Information and the St. Louis Public Library.

1973

1997: An F5 tornado killed 27 people in Jarrell, Texas. Although tornado warnings were issued 30 minutes in advance and local sirens were sounded, there were few places to go for safety. Most homes were on slabs, with no basements. Houses were swept clean off their foundations, with little debris left behind. Total damage was $20 million dollars. The same thunderstorm complex produced a wind gust to 122 mph at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Source: TornadoTalk.com and the History.com

2017

2017

WX History: May 26th

1771: Thomas Jefferson recorded the greatest flood ever known in Virginia. The great Virginia flood occurred as torrential rains in the mountains brought all rivers in the state to record high levels.

Source: Jefferson’s Garden Book.

1917: A major tornadic thunderstorm took a 293-mile track across parts of central Illinois and Indiana. Once believed to be a single tornado, the later study indicated it was likely at least eight separate tornadoes. The first touchdown was about 50 miles south-southeast of Quincy, Illinois. The tornadic storm tracked due east, before beginning a northeast curve near Charleston; separate tornadic storms then curved southeast from Charleston. The towns of Mattoon and Charleston bore the brunt of the tornado. Damage from this severe tornado in Mattoon was about 2.5 blocks wide and 2.5 miles long, with over 700 houses destroyed, while the Charleston portion was 600 yards wide and 1.5 miles long, with 220 homes damaged. Damage in the two towns amounted to about $2 million dollars 1917 dollars. Dozens of farms were hit along the path, and at least three farm homes were swept away between Manhattan and Monee. Another estimated F4 tornado touched down 6 miles south of Crown Point and devastated a dozen farms. A total of 7 people died, and 120 were injured. 53 people were killed in Mattoon, and 38 died in Charleston. Overall, 101 people in Illinois were killed during the tornado outbreak, with 638 injured.

Source(s): NWS Office in Lincoln, Illinois.  Eastern Illinois University

2003: A BMI Airbus bound for Cyprus from Manchester, England encountered a violent thunderstorm over Germany. The plane bounced and twisted violently as it ran into severe turbulence with huge hailstones pounding the exterior. A football-sized hole was punched in the aircraft’s exterior. None of the 213 passengers or eight crew members has been severely hurt.

May 26, 2003 Airplane

Source: AERO News Network.

2009: Northeast of Anchorage, Alaska, two hikers climbed a ridge to see a developing storm better. Lightning knocked the couple unconscious. Regaining consciousness, they called emergency services as the woman was unable to walk. The man’s shoes looked as though they had melted.

May 26, 2009 Anchorage lightning

Source: May 2009 Storm Data.

WX History: May 23rd

1968: One of the costliest hailstorms in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma history pummeled the city on this date. Hail the size of baseballs fell over much of the city, resulting in more than 40,000 insurance claims over the 90,000 square mile path of the storm. The final cost was more than $20 million dollars. The parent thunderstorm also caused flash flooding that left 2 to 4 feet of water in some underpasses and a lightning strike that started a fire that killed two people.

1960: A massive earthquake in Chile the previous day produced a tsunami that killed 61 people in Hilo, Hawaii. An additional 180 people died on the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan. 

Source: History.com

1997: David McWilliams Ludlum was born 1910 in East Orange, NJ – He is responsible for researching and publishing much of the early history of weather at the beginning of America. David died May 23, 1997, in Princeton, New Jersey. He was an American historian, meteorologist, entrepreneur, and author. 

2010: A rare tropical cyclone dubbed Bandu brings high winds and heavy rains to Somalia. The storm then moved into the Gulf of Aden where it quickly weakens and dissipates on the 23rd as it passes between Yemen and Somalia.

May 23, 2010 Cyclone Bandu
The satellite image above is Cyclone Bandu on May 21st, 2010. The image is courtesy of the US Navy.

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WX History: May 21st

1881: Clara Barton and a circle of close friends found the American Red Cross.

Source: History Channel.

1949: A violent tornado crossed the Mississippi River from the St. Louis area into Wood River, then to Roxanna. This tornado damaged or destroyed 300 homes in these two towns, killing five people. Four people died in a destroyed restaurant in Palestine, Illinois; one body was recovered from a tree. A tornado causing estimated F4 damage killed five people and injured 55 in St. Louis and St. Charles counties in Missouri and Madison County in Illinois. This tornado was part of an outbreak that produced four different tornadoes and was responsible for five deaths and 57 injuries.

2001: Golfers participating in a golf tournament at the Majestic Golf Course in Hartland, Michigan received an urgent message on the G.P.S. on their carts. The message, relayed from the clubhouse, was that a tornado was bearing down on the course. Most of the golfers made it to safety in the clubhouse, although some had to take shelter on the course. Only one golfer suffered a minor injury. The F2 tornado damaged 70 cars in the parking lot along with numerous golf carts and a pontoon boat.

May 21, 2001 Hartland Tornado
The image above is courtesy of Storm Data.

2017

 2017

WX History: May 19th

1780: The infamous “dark day” in New England tradition. At noon, it was nearly as dark as night. Chickens went to roost, and many persons were fearful of divine wrath. The “dark day” was caused by forest fires to the west of New England.

May 19, 1780 Fires

The image above is courtesy of the International Journal of Wildland Fire published in 2007. “Fire dates based on tree rings and fire scars indicate that fires occurred in 1780 at several locations, including the Algonquin Highlands of southern Ontario, western Maryland, western Virginia, the Missouri Ozark Highlands, the Boston Mountains of Arkansas, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota.” 

Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire.

1915: A spring storm came to an end after producing widespread snow. Total snowfall from the storm included: 17.6 inches in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 8 inches at Cheyenne, Wyoming, 7 inches at Chadron and 3.9 inches in North Platte, Nebraska.

1990

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WX History: May 12th

1760: Ben Franklin was the first person to identify nor’easters. In a letter on this date to Alexander Small of London, Franklin described an experience that happened to him in November 1743 when storm clouds in Philadelphia blocked his view of an eclipse. Franklin assumed that the storm had blown in from the northeast because the surface winds at his location were from that direction. He was puzzled to find out later that his brother had viewed the eclipse with no problems and that the storm had arrived in Boston four hours later. The information caused Franklin to surmise correctly that the storm had moved from southwest to northeast.

Source: Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 1.

1886: An estimated F4 tornado touched down in Vermilion County near Armstrong, Illinois, and passed between Alvin and Rossville before moving into Indiana. At least five houses were destroyed, two of which were entirely swept away. Three people were killed. Five other strong tornadoes occurred across Illinois that day: two near Mt. Carroll, one near Odell, one near Jacksonville, and one in Iroquois County.

1997: A towering F1 tornado ripped its way through the middle of Miami, Biscayne Bay, and Miami Beach right after lunch Monday, smashing cars and windows, tossing trees skyward.

WX History: May 11th

1865: A tornado touched down in Philadelphia around 6 PM ET, killing one person and injuring 15 others. There was great destruction to property, with 23 houses blown down, damage to the Reading Railroad depot, with the water tank, carried 150 yards. Fairmont Park was damaged to the amount of $20,000.

1934: A tremendous dust storm affected the Plains as the Dust Bowl era was in full swing. According to The New York Times, dust “lodged itself in the eyes and throats of weeping and coughing New Yorkers,” and even ships some 300 miles offshore sawdust collect on their decks.

Source: History.com

1953: A terrifying F5 tornado rips through downtown Waco, Texas, killing 114 people and injuring nearly 600 more. More than 850 homes, 600 businesses, and 2,000 cars are destroyed or severely damaged. Losses have been estimated at $41 million. The tornado is the deadliest in Texas history and the tenth deadliest in the US.

Source: NWS Office in Dallas/Fort Worth.

2014

2017

WX History: May 6th

1876: A tornado, estimated at F3 intensity, tracked four miles across Chicago, Illinois. The damaged buildings included a candy factory, a hospital, a freight depot, and a church. The tornado moved out over Lake Michigan and was observed to have multiple vortices by a reporter. Further south in Illinois, a tornado blew a moving passenger train off the tracks near Neoga, injuring all 19 people aboard. 

Source: Chicago Tribune.

1937: The German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at Naval Air Station Lakehurst in Manchester Township, New Jersey, United States. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), there were 35 fatalities (13 passengers and 22 crewmen). One worker on the ground was also killed, making a total of 36 deaths. The Hindenburg was delayed two hours from docking due to thunderstorms in the area.

May 6, 1937 Hindenburg

The Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg was catching fire on May 6, 1937, at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey.

 

May 6, 1937 Hindenburg 2
Aerial photo of the wreckage of the Hindenburg taken on May 7, 1937, the morning after the crash. The image is from Wikipedia.

Source: History.com

1975: A massive tornado hit Omaha, Nebraska killing three persons, injuring 133 others, and causing over 250 million dollars damage. The tornado struck during the late afternoon moving northeastward through the industrial and residential areas of west central Omaha and lifting over the northern section of the city. The twister, which cut a swath ten miles long and as much as a quarter of a mile wide.  It was the most costly in U.S. history up till that time.

May 6, 1975 Omaha Tornado
The photo of the Omaha tornado above was taken near Aksarben (72nd and Mercy Rd.) by Bob Dunn.

 

May 6, 1975 Omaha Tornado track

Source: NWS Office in Omaha, Nebraska.