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Weather History: April 1: Record temps, storms, snow, hail, tornadoes & flooding

Meteorological events that happened on April 1st:


A heavy snowstorm in the Northeast dumped a foot of snow from New Jersey to New Hampshire. Five piers of the Charles Bridge were destroyed at Boston, MA by gale force winds and high tides.


30 inches of snow fell at Danville, VT with total snow depth of 60 inches on the ground. Heavy coastal damage occurred from huge waves.


The first commercial telegraph line was opened on this date. This made the science of weather forecasting possible as observations could be gathered in real time, plotted on a map and forecasts drawn from the data. Communities could also be warned about approaching severe storms and tornadoes.


The first daily newspaper weather map was published by the London Times. The first American newspaper weather map would be published on 5/12/1876 in the New York Herald. Weather maps would first appear on a regular basis beginning on 5/9/1879 in the New York Daily Graphic.


The ship "India" was abandoned off the Delaware coast after being caught between two waterspouts while well off shore.


31.56 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia


A tornado with incredible velocity ripped into downtown Houston, TX breaking the water table and giving the city its first natural waterspout.

Weather reports from ships at sea began to be received by the Weather Bureau (today, the National Weather Service) on a regular basis.


A strong cold front moved through the upper Midwest. Temperatures ahead of the front climbed into the 60s and 70s. Meanwhile, temperatures fell into the 20s by the end of the day behind the front. Fayette, IA had a high temperature of 79° and a low temperature of 23°. This 56 degree diurnal temperature change is the greatest ever recorded there.


Residents in the eastern U.S. awoke on "April Fool's Day" to bitterly cold temperatures. The mercury plunged to -34° at Bergland, MI and dropped as low as the mid teens in parts of Georgia.


Record low maximum temperatures were set at Billings, MT, 15° and Sheridan, WY, 10°.


Snow fell across Denver and northern Colorado for 51 consecutive hours on this date through April 3rd. While the storm was did not produce excessive snow, the long duration made the event a heavy snow producer. Downtown Denver reported 10.7 inches while 9.5 inches was reported at Stapleton Airport. This was an unusually cold air mass for this time of year. The high temperature of 26° on April 2nd and 17° on April 3rd were low maximums for the dates. The high of 17° on April 3rd was a record low maximum for April.


Two earthquakes rocked the Scotch Cap Lighthouse on Unimak Island, AK within 27 minutes. The tremors caused a massive tsunami which washed away the lighthouse. The lighthouse's antenna was located 105 feet above sea level and it was washed away. Debris was found at levels 115 feet above sea level. A Pacific-wide tsunami was generated, and one of the hardest hit locations was Hawaii where 96 people died. As a result of the disaster, the Seismic Sea Wave Warning System was established in 1948. This would later become known as the Pacific Tsunami Warning System.


“One of the worst dust and windstorms in recent years” according to the California State Climatologist caused “widespread” damage in the San Joaquin Valley knocking down large numbers of trees, twisting TV antennas and knocking out power. Crops suffered damage as well with many cotton seeds blown away by the wind. Northwest winds sustained at 40-50 mph with gusts as high as 80 mph were observed in southeastern Tulare County. In Bakersfield near zero visibility was reported. Damage was most severe in Kern and Tulare Counties.


The first weather satellite, TIROS 1 (Television and Infra Red Observation Satellite,) began sending pictures back to earth. The TIROS series would have little benefit to operational weather forecasters because the image quality was low and inconsistent. The most important understanding achieved from the new technology was the discovery of the high degree of organization of large-scale weather systems, a fact never apparent from ground and aircraft observations.


Torrential rains fell at Alma, New Brunswick Canada measuring 7.05 inches and a 48 hour total of 9.00 inches.


11 inches of snow fell at O'Hara Airport, Chicago closing the airport. This is the biggest snowstorm for so late in the season.


A tornado hit Fairfax, VA injuring 37 people and causing $14 million dollars in damage.


A wind gust of 82 mph was recorded at Nashville, TN, the fastest known wind gust ever recorded in the city.


13 inches of snow fell at Big Bear Lake, CA. This is their greatest April snowfall on record.

Fresno, CA only hit 49°, their chilliest April maximum temperature on record. This was tied on 4/7/1999.


High winds behind a cold front brought widespread damage in parts of central and southern Oklahoma. Winds measured at 65 to 85 mph, blew down power lines and trees, and blew the roofs off several homes. One man drowned in Arbuckle Reservoir when his boat capsized. The wind destroyed a commuter airplane at Lawton worth more than $1 million dollars, while blowing cars, trucks, and motor homes off area roadways.


Many cities across the southeastern U.S. reported record low temperatures for the date. Monthly records included 37° at Apalachicola, FL, 34° at Jacksonville, FL, 30° at Macon, GA, and 22° at Knoxville, TN.

A tornado touched down briefly during a snow squall on the south shore of White Fish Bay; located 6 miles northeast of Bay Mills, WI. A mobile home was unroofed and insulation was sucked from its walls.


A powerful spring storm produced 34 inches of snow at Rye, CO, 22 inches at Timpas, OK, 19 inches at Sharon Springs, KS, up to 17 inches fell in the Oklahoma Panhandle and up to 35 inches in parts of New Mexico.

Severe thunderstorms associated with the same storm spawned a tornado which caused $2.5 million dollars damage at East Mountain, TX.


Up to 6 inches of snow blanketed the Adirondacks of eastern New York State and the St. Lawrence Valley of Vermont. Up to a foot of snow blanketed the Colorado Rockies.

Oklahoma City, OK recorded no thunderstorms during the entire month of April, the first time in history that had occurred.


Thunderstorms produced severe weather in Texas, from southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana to southern Georgia, and from northern South Carolina to the Upper Ohio Valley during the day and evening. Thunderstorms spawned a tornado at Evergreen, AL, and there were more than 80 reports of large hail and damaging winds. Thunderstorms produced baseball size hail north of Bastrop, LA, and produced damaging winds which injured one person west of Meridian, MS.


Above normal rainfall and snowmelt contributed to extensive flooding along the Mississippi River over almost the entire month at St. Louis, MO. While most locations reached 3 to 4 feet above flood stage, some gauges were twice that high.


An F0 tornado touched down near Merced, CA; another F0 tornado touched down near Tulare, CA. At Los Banos, CA thunderstorm wind gusts of 50 to 80 mph lifted a hay storage shed, flattened two wood barns and an historical slate rock building as well as overturning a tractor trailer truck.


Mother Nature played a cruel springtime joke on the northeast. After the area had basked in 70 degree warmth for several days, a strong nor'easter moved up the coast, dumping up to 3 feet of snow in some areas. The storm began on March 31st, and winded down by midday on this date. A 978 millibar low cutoff just south of New England spun a tremendous amount of moisture in from the Atlantic with southern New England and eastern New York bearing the full brunt of the storm. 500,000 people lost power because of the heavy, wet snow and high winds. Five people were killed. At its peak, the storm knocked out power to nearly 13% of New England or 750,000 people. Boston, MA recorded 25.4 inches of snow for the storm, all in 24 hours for its greatest 24 snowfall on record, its third biggest snowstorm overall and their snowiest April ever. At the height, snow was falling at an incredible rate of 3 inches an hour accompanied by thunder and lightning. The city was paralyzed for two days. Worcester, MA recorded 33 inches for its greatest snowstorm ever. The Blue Hill Observatory at Milton, MA was buried under 30 inches and had wind gusts as high as 72 mph. Other big snowfall totals included 37 inches at East Jewitt, NY, 36 inches at Milford, MA, 30.5 inches at Burrillville, RI, 23 inches at West Wardsboro, VT, and 21 inches at Putnam, CT.

The Baltimore Orioles postponed their opening day-game against the Kansas City Royals because of cold weather and high winds. The Orioles opening day had only been canceled one other time, in 1972, at the old Memorial Stadium.


A spring snowstorm brought up to three feet of powdery snow to the ski resorts in southern California. 18 inches was reported at Pine Cove. At lower elevations, grapefruit sized hail was reported at Laguna Niguel. Beginning the previous day through this date, numerous funnel clouds were reported near the Orange and San Diego County coasts; two off Orange County. One briefly hit the coast as a tornado south of the Huntington Beach Pier.


A late winter storm ending the next day brought snow to parts of southern California’s high country. 7 to 9 inches fell at Pine Valley and Descanso, 2 inches at Boulevard, heavy snow was reported at Cherry Valley (elevation 3,000 feet) and 1 inch at Homeland (elevation 1,700 feet). A waterspout was observed six miles off Newport Beach. Eight people died.


La Paz, Bolivia South America received 1.2 inches of rain in 24 hours, nearly their total April average rainfall of 1.3 inches.


A rare tornado blasted through Solid Energy's Stockton coalmine at Westport, New Zealand causing workers to run for cover. The twister struck about 5.10pm local time, tearing the roof off a workshop, blowing-in windows and snapping a power pole. It tore about two-thirds of the 230 foot roof off the building, engulfing workers in a whirlwind of broken glass and dust.


During the runoff from the winter snowmelt, the Red River crested at 49.34 feet at East Grand Forks, ND.


Check out my colleague Weather Examiners:

Baltimore, MD area weather with Tony Pann at

Orlando, FL area weather with Dr. Steve Oliver at

Houston, TX area weather & the weekly Weather America Newsletter with Larry Cosgrove at

NOAA Headlines Examiner with Dr. Steve Oliver and IPR at

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