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Weather History: August 19: Record temps, hail, storms, tropics, wind & floods

Meteorological events that happened on August 19th:


The first hurricane in U.S. recorded history hit Pensacola, FL where five Spanish ships were driven ashore in Pensacola Harbor.


A small but powerful hurricane inflicted great havoc upon forests along a narrow track from the Delaware Bay to Maine. A similar storm track today would cause extreme disaster in the now populated areas.


A tornado struck Moneuil, France. The mid-day storm traveled up to 19 miles and was estimated to be as much as 1,000 feet wide. As many as 200 people were killed in the destruction of homes and two large mills.


South Wilkes-Barre, PA was hit by an estimated F3 tornado. 400 buildings were destroyed. The death toll was 16 and damage was estimated at $400,000 dollars.

A strong tornado tracked 38 miles across the Jura Mountain region from the French town of Oyonnax to Croy, Switzerland.


The famous Cottage City (Oak Bluffs) waterspout occurred off Martha's Vineyard, MA. The vortex was 3,600 feet high, formed three times, and was well photographed.


Bakersfield, CA ended a run of 50 consecutive days with highs of 100 degrees or higher. Their longest such streak.


Bangor, ME soared to 104° for their all-time record high temperature.


Tuckerton registered New Jersey’s maximum 24 hour precipitation record as 14.82 inches of rain fell.


Rains from Tropical Storm Diane fell on already saturated ground from Tropical Storm Connie a week before. Westfield, MA recorded 18.15 inches in 24 hours, to set a state record, while the 24-hour precipitation record for CT was set at Burlington with 12.77 inches. Extreme flooding occurred in all of New England. Boston, MA received 8.40 inches of rain; their greatest 24 hour total. At one point, over 40% of Worcester, MA was underwater. Woonsocket, RI was hit hard as the Blackstone River, normally only 70 feet wide, swelled to over 1.5 miles in width. 82 people died and damage topped $800 millions dollars.


The heaviest recorded 24-hour precipitation accumulation to date for the Arctic drenched Mould Bay, Northwest Territories Canada with 1.88 inches of rain.


A severe hailstorm in Lambeth, Ontario Canada deposited ice up to 7 inches deep on streets and caused extensive local crop damage.


The remnants of Hurricane Camille deepened rapidly as it moved from Kentucky into Southwestern Virginia, causing record rainfall and devastating flooding along the upper James River. 107 people died and 55 were missing as the flood became the worst natural disasters in the history of the state. Massies Mill, VA received 27 inches of rain. Total damage was $140 million dollars.


Cool air from Canada brought record lows of 37° at Lansing, MI and 43° at Grand Rapids, MI.


Severe weather and very heavy rains were an unwelcome visitor to parts of northeast Nebraska from this date through the 20th. Hail up to one inch in diameter damaged crops in a strip from 6 miles south of Pilger, NE through Wisner and Pender affecting Stanton, Thurston and Cuming Counties. But probably the most remarkable event occurred in Dixon County where 6 to nearly 10 inches of rain fell in just four hours. This rainfall caused the Iowa Creek to exceed its banks causing extensive flash flooding of homes and businesses in Ponca. The rushing water washed out crops, tore trees from the creek bed and washed out 15 bridges in the county.


San Antonio, TX recorded its all-time record high temperature of 108°. This broke their previous record of 107° set on 8/20/1909.


Thunderstorms moving out of southeastern Nebraska spread severe weather into eastern Kansas and western Missouri during the day. Thunderstorms in Nebraska produced hail three inches in diameter at Albion, and high winds which downed a large tent at Waterloo injuring a dozen persons. Thunderstorms in Kansas produced baseball size hail northwest of Topeka, and wind gusts to 80 mph at Fulton. 10 people were injured in a thunderstorm at Princeton, KS, and damage to crops in southern Franklin County, Kansas was estimated at $3.5 million dollars.


Raleigh, NC reported a record high temperature reading of 103°. Afternoon thunderstorms in Oklahoma produced wind gusts to 75 mph in southern Pittsburgh County. Thunderstorms in Indiana produced 4.50 inches of rain at Morgantown.


Early morning thunderstorms deluged southeastern Delaware with 6 to 10 inches of rain in 4 to 6 hours, with local reports of 13 to 20 inches of rain. 26 major roads were closed or damaged, and 14 bridges were washed out. Flooding caused nearly $4 million dollars damage to local businesses.


Hurricane Bob made landfall at Newport, RI with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph with gusts to 105 mph. Then the cyclone made a final landfall as a tropical storm at Rockland, ME. Winds reached 80 mph gusting 110 mph at the New Bedford Hurricane Barrier and gusts reached 143 mph at Westport Point, MA, 125 mph at Block Island, RI, 100 mph at Cape Cod, MA and 93 mph at Blue Hill, ME. The storm surge at Upper Buzzards Bay reached 15 feet. 7.84 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Portland, ME, their wettest 24 hour period on record. Power was out to 2.1 million homes and businesses and damage totaled $1.5 billion dollars. 17 people died. Bob was the worst hurricane in the northeast since Hurricane Donna in 1960.

Strong thunderstorms affected portions of north central and east central South Dakota. In Dewey County, near Ridgeview, a thunderstorm produced about five inches of rain, very strong winds, and hail. The winds blew over three grain bins, one of which struck a house causing considerable damage. Skirting was blown from several mobile homes and shingles were torn from many houses.

The storms also produced tremendous amounts of lightning. The Civil Defense Director for Codington County reported that the lightning was so frequent and vivid that he drove for 10 minutes without needing his headlights. At one point a lightning strike occurred within 10 feet of his car. The strike splattered mud onto his vehicle, drained his battery, and caused problems with the car's electrical system.


Tropical Storm Andrew was becoming disorganized as it was being affected by upper level wind shear.


Newspaper front pages would carry dramatic photos of a dust storm engulfing Phoenix, AZ as a severe thunderstorm moved across the city. Flights at Sky Harbor International Airport were delayed for several hours because of wind-blown dust clouds that reduced visibility. 3 people were injured after a downdraft slammed a hot air balloon into the ground.


A sudden cloudburst surprised Las Vegas, NV, dumping 3 inches of rain in just 90 minutes, severely flooding the city's northwest sector, knocking out power to thousands, and leaving motorists stranded atop their cars.


An intense thunderstorm struck Toronto, Ontario Canada and surrounding areas bringing torrential rains, quarter to golf-ball sized hail, and flash flooding. At Environment Canada's Downsview offices, 5.1 inches of rain fell; 4 inches in less than an hour. The storm also dumped 4.06 inches of rain in one hour across a swath of North York and surrounding areas, causing flash flooding. During the storm's peak, 1,400 lightning strikes per minute were recorded. Severe thunderstorms spawned at least two F2 tornadoes north of the town of Fergus, Ontario Canada. Cars were overturned, homes and farm buildings damaged and trees downed, but luckily no injuries are reported. The storm leaves in its wake severe damage that, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, is the highest insured loss in the province's history, exceeding $500 million dollars; more than two and a half times Ontario's losses during the infamous ice storm of 1998 and the second largest loss event in Canadian history.


Rainfall and flooding of historic proportions struck parts of the Upper Mississippi River Valley continuing into the next day. Rainfall in excess of 10 to 12 inches fell in some areas, with the main swath of heaviest rain centered along a line from Claremont and Rochester, MN to La Crosse, Viroqua and Muscoda, WI. 24 hour rainfall records were set in the following locations: Hokah, MN: 15.10 inches, Viroqua, WI: 9.23 inches, La Crescent, MN: 7.95 inches, Gays Mills, WI: 7.41 inches, Westby, WI: 7.17 inches, Genoa, WI: 7.10 inches, Prairie du Chien, WI: 6.52 inches, La Farge, WI: 6.14 inches, Spring Grove, MN: 5.65 inches. The Hokah total also set the 24-hour rainfall record for the entire state of Minnesota. A warm front extended across northern Iowa and central Illinois on Saturday, and continued to sit there through Sunday. A very moist and warm air mass rose up and over this boundary, providing the fuel for showers and thunderstorms. Due to the depth of the warm layer, and considerable amount of moisture, the stage was set for heavy rainfall. Thunderstorms developed eventually orientating into a west to east moving line from the northern Plains, through southern Minnesota, and then into southwest Wisconsin. In addition, due to the training nature of the storms, the heavy rain persisted for hour after hour, with rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour common. Flood of records were recorded at the Middle Fork Whitewater River at Whitewater State Park, MN: 19.24 feet and the Root River at Houston, MN: 18.75 feet. Many other sites had top 5 record crests.

Dozens of waterspouts danced across the waters of Prince Edward Island. Two waterspouts were reported in Westmoreland at 5:35 pm and two more in Argyle Shore about the same time.


Hurricane Gordon struck the Azores as a Category 1 storm. It was the first hurricane to impact the island since 2006 when a previous hurricane also named Gordon hit.


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

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