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Weather History: April 5: Record temps, storms, snow, wind, fire & Tambora

Meteorological events that happened on April 5th:

During the summer months, if you ever want to know what the temperature is at night, just listen to the crickets. Count the number of cricket chirps in 14 seconds and add 40. This will give the temperature at the ground in Fahrenheit. The temperature will probably be 2 to 3 degrees warmer around your head. The chirp of the cricket is influenced or controlled to a degree by the air temperature. Thus, a crickets chirp is a fairly reliable estimate of the temperature.


The Tambora Volcano in Java erupted. Ash from the eruption would circle the globe, blocking sunlight and leading to the unusually cold summer in 1816. On 6/6/1816, snow would fall as far south of Connecticut with some places in New England picking up 10 inches. On July 4th, the temperature at Savannah GA plunged to 46°. Eastern North America and Europe had freezing nighttime temperatures in August.


Three inches of snow at Columbia, SC fell two weeks later than any previous record late freeze.


The temperature at Boston, MA plunged to 11° to establish the April low temperature record for that city.


A tornado moved north-northeast from four miles east of Iuka, KS, passing through the town of Stafford. Many homes were unroofed or blown down in Stafford. Two mills were destroyed and a 700 pound millstone was moved 150 feet. One person was killed and 14 injured.


Fort Wayne, IN reported their coldest April high temperature on record of 28°. Columbia, MO and Quincy, IL recorded their coldest April low temperatures on record of 14° and 15° respectively.


San Diego, CA had it wettest day on record with 3.23 inches falling. Escondido, CA recorded their greatest April rainfall on record with 2.63 inches. 0.65 inches fell in one minute at Opids Camp, CA in the San Gabriel Mountains, the state’s one minute rainfall record.


446 people were killed in the second deadliest tornado outbreak ever in U.S. 17 twisters struck from Mississippi to the Carolinas. An F5 tornado cut a path 400 yards wide through the residential section of Tupelo, MS. 216 people were killed and 700 were injured. The tornado had a 15 mile long path and did $3 million dollars in damage. One of the survivors in Tupelo was a baby named Elvis Presley. Luckily, Elvis had left the building. Gainesville, GA had 203 fatalities and 934 injuries from a tornado that occurred early the following morning.


Bakersfield, CA received one inch of rain, their wettest April day on record.


The temperature at Eagles Nest, NM plunged to -45° to establish an April record for the United States.


The Northern Rockies and the Northern Plains were in the midst of a four-day storm which produced 52 inches of snow at Lead, SD.

Billings, MT reported their all-time record snow depth at 33 inches.


Operators at Texas A&M turned on their weather radar after a tornado watch was issued. Looking for the characteristic hook echo, the local police and radio stations were warned when one was indicated on radar moving toward the Bryan/College Station area. It was the first tornado warning based on radar indications.


Idyllwild, CA set their all-time record low for April when they fell to 14°.


The deadliest tornado of 1972 occurred in an unlikely location: Washington State. The F2 tornado, 500 yards wide at times, touched down along the Columbia River near Portland, OR and moved NNE along a 9-mile path. The storm caused $6 million dollars in damage at Vancouver, WA. The storm caused six fatalities and 304 injuries. 150 of the injuries occurred at the Ogden Elementary School. It was the deadliest tornado of the year and the worst on record for Washington.


Three tornadoes touched down in southwestern Oklahoma. The strongest began southwest of Pumpkin Center, and moved northeast for 10 miles, damaging or destroying 21 homes, five mobile homes, and 21 barns and outbuildings. The storm was accompanied by hail up to three inches in diameter. The only injury was to a boy, who was slightly injured, when a hailstone hit him on the head.


An F2 tornado touched down just east of Hanford, CA damaging a chicken coup and three homes with one house losing its roof. Another F2 tornado touched down west of Visalia destroying a barn.


An unprecedented April blizzard began in the northeastern U.S. late on this date. When it was over, one to two feet of snow fell across Massachusetts and Connecticut, and up to 26 inches was reported in parts of Maine. New York City received a foot of snow. Winds reached 70 to 80 mph and also produced numerous thunderstorms, which contributed to the heavy snow.


A severe canyon wind in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah produced wind gusts 60 to 80 mph with a peak gust of 104 mph which overturned 12 flatbed railroad cars with loaded trailers on the Union Pacific line near Farmington.


A storm produced unprecedented April snows in the central Appalachians. Mount Mitchell, NC received 35 inches of snow, and up to 60 inches of snow was reported in the mountains along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. The total of 25 inches at Charleston, WV easily surpassed their previous record for the entire month of April of 5.9 inches. The 20.6 inch total at Akron, OH established an all-time record for that location.

After days of heavy rain, a New York State Thruway bridge collapsed over Schoharie Creek in upstate New York, west of Amsterdam, killing 10 people.


Severe thunderstorms moved across the northern 2/3 of Illinois. Baseball size hail at Galesburg caused $10 million dollars damage to 700 cars and many homes. In East St. Louis, MO a wind gust of 77 mph and golf ball-size hail was reported. Winds at the airport in Bloomington, IL gusted to 75 mph, causing the control tower to be evacuated. Other strong winds included 70 mph at Taylorville, IL and 69 mph at Decatur, IL. Extensive damage was reported due to the storms.

Many cities across the eastern half of the country reported record high temperatures for the date, including St. Louis, MO with a reading of 91°. Laredo, TX was the hot spot in the nation with an afternoon high of 100°.


Unseasonably hot weather prevailed in the southwestern U.S. Afternoon highs of 100° at Santa Maria, CA and 105° in Downtown Los Angeles, CA established records for the month of April. Many monthly record high temperatures were set for April: 112° at Palm Springs, 105° at Downtown Los Angeles, 104° at Riverside, 103° at Escondido, 101° at Tustin, 95° at San Diego, 95° at Victorville, 76° at Big Bear Lake.


Afternoon and evening thunderstorms developing along a cold front produced severe weather in southern Oklahoma, southern Arkansas, and north central and northeastern Texas. Thunderstorms spawned a dozen tornadoes in Texas, including one at Fort Worth, TX which caused a million dollars damage. There were nearly 100 reports of large hail and damaging winds. Thunderstorms in Texas produced hail 3½ inches in diameter west of Fort Worth, and produced wind gusts to 80 mph at Cross Plains.


Spring cold set many records across the northeastern U.S. and Great Lakes including Chicago, IL with 18°, Rockford, IL: 15°, Green Bay, WI: 13°, Toledo, OH: 12°, Madison, WI: 14° and Caribou, ME dropped to 1°; their coldest ever for so late in season.


A small area of west-central Texas was buried under record late season snows. Abilene recorded 9.3 inches in 24 hours for its greatest 24 hour snowfall ever. Sweetwater measured 18 inches. The 2 inches at Midland was its greatest April snowfall on record.


Heavy rains and melting snows pushed rivers in the Dakotas and Minnesota over their banks and left hundreds of people homeless while just to the west, a blizzard dumped as much as 10 inches of snow in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Bismarck, ND reported 17.3 inches to raise its seasonal snowfall to 101.4 inches; the city's snowiest winter on record.


A strong, late-winter storm battered St. John’s, Newfoundland Canada with 27.2 inches of snow with a peak wind gust to 56 mph.


A wildfire, fanned by strong northwest winds gusting to around 55 mph, caused nearly 800 acres to be burned in the Burr Oak area in Wisconsin from late evening to early morning on the 6th. Homes were evacuated, but none of the structures received damage as fire fighters contained the blaze.


An unusually strong dust devil formed in Suffolk County, NY on Long Island and moved across the Brookhaven Calabro Airport at Shirley, NY. The vortex lifted a Piper Cherokee Airplace 25 feet in the air and threw it. The 75 foot column of whirling dust formed under clear skies along a sea breeze front.


A single supercell thunderstorm dumped an enormous amount of large hail, up to 4 inches in diameter, across North Texas. A swath of damage extended for nearly 200 miles from Young to Hopkins Counties. This ranks as one of the costliest storms on record to hit North Texas with damage estimated at $885 million dollars.


A flash flood swept through the northern Mexico communities of Piedras Negras and Villa de Fuente during the early hours, washing away homes and killing at least 50 people. Pounding rains at dawn forced the Escondido River to rise 25 feet in 15 minutes.


A surface low pressure deepened over eastern Colorado and produced damaging high winds across northern Colorado. Across Denver, winds gusts between 50 and 70 mph damaged roofs and fences. Cross-winds blew several semi-trailers on the sides along I-70 and I-76 east of Denver. Peak wind gusts included: 60 mph near Bennett and Keenesburg, 59 mph near Brighton and 53 mph at Denver International Airport. Over the Palmer Divide south of Denver, the high winds combined with heavy snow produced blizzard conditions. Snowfall accumulations ranged from 3 to 8 inches over eastern Douglas and western Elbert counties. Snowfall totals included: 8 inches near Sedalia, 4 inches near Castle Rock and 3.5 inches near Franktown.


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

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