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Weather History: August 31: Record temps, storms, tropics, hail & flooding

Listed are Meteorological events that happened on August 31st:


A record 71-day dry period began on this day at Calgary, Alberta Canada.


The Great Charleston Earthquake occurred on a hot, muggy and still evening at Charleston, SC. The Charleston Earthquake is the most damaging ever in the southeastern United States and one of the largest earthquakes ever to occur in eastern North America, measuring 7.5 on the Richter Scale.


A pair of rainfall records was broken at Los Angeles, CA from one storm. 0.61 of an inch total set the record for the heaviest 24 hour rainfall and the largest monthly total for the month of August.


Funkiko, Japan was deluged with 40.7 inches of rain in 24 hours.


Early season record chill continued across parts of the Plains to the Midwest. The temperature at Bartlesville, OK dipped to 38° to establish a state record for the month of August. Warsaw, IN dropped to 37°. The lowest temperature on record at Columbia, MO dropped to 40°, setting their record low for August.


An incredible hailstorm at West Chester, PA dropped so much hail that fields were covered with up to two feet of drifted hail the next day.


The U.S. Weather Bureau issued advisories on a small tropical storm 60 miles east of the Bahamas. The storm would go through “bombogenesis” two days later, becoming the strongest hurricane ever to hit the United States when it crossed the Florida Keys on Labor Day; known as the Labor Day hurricane of 1935.


Among the many heat-related records established during the summer of 1936 was the number of days with highs 90° or above. Springfield, IL reported 69 such days during the year, 57 of which occurred between June and August. At Peoria, IL the total for the year was 64, a few days shy of the record of 68 degrees set in 1887.

It was the hottest month ever recorded in Oklahoma City, OK with an average temperature of 88.7°. This is 7.5° above the normal for August, and 0.4° warmer than the second hottest months, a tie between July 1980 and July 1934. Also, the two hottest daily temperatures ever recorded in August in Oklahoma City occurred in 1936, along with the warmest daily minimum temperature ever recorded in the city. Many of the daily record highs set in 1936 are still records for their respective dates.


Sea surface temperatures off the coast of southern California for the month were in the upper 70s with some reports of 80° near San Diego. This occurred ahead of tropical storms the next month.


Areas from the upper Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes to the East Coast were in the midst of a late summer heat wave that continued into early September. Record highs included: Richmond, VA: 102°, Baltimore, MD: 102°, Newark, NJ: 102°, Bismarck, ND: 101°, Louisville, KY: 101°, Rockford, IL: 101°, Huntington, WV: 101°, Wilmington, DE: 101°, Philadelphia, PA: 101°, St. Louis, MO: 100°, Paducah, KY: 100°, Madison, WI: 100°, Mobile, AL: 100°, New York (Central Park), NY: 100°, New York (LaGuardia Airport), NY: 100°, Evansville, IN: 100°-Tied, Washington, D.C.: 100°-Tied, Lexington, KY: 99°, Chicago, IL: 99°, Cleveland, OH: 99°, Allentown, PA: 99°, Greenville-Spartanburg, SC: 99°, Bristol, TN: 98°, Oak Ridge, TN: 98°, Hartford, CT: 98°, Chattanooga, TN: 98°-Tied, Cincinnati, OH: 98°-Tied, Columbus, OH: 98°-Tied, Harrisburg, PA: 98°-Tied, Grand Rapids, MI: 97°, Milwaukee, WI: 97°, Atlantic City, NJ: 97°, Boston, MA: 97°, Grand Forks, ND: 97°, Indianapolis, IN: 97°-Tied, Lansing, MI: 96°, Dubuque, IA: 96°, Waterloo, IA: 96°, Atlanta, GA: 96°, Providence, RI: 96°, Peoria, IL: 96°-Tied, La Crosse, WI: 95°, Fargo, ND: 95°, Avoca, PA: 95°-Tied, Bridgeport, CT: 94°, Milton, MA: 94°, Beckley, WV: 94°-Tied, Rochester, MN: 93°, Asheville, NC: 93°, Albany, NY: 93°, Worcester, MA: 93°, Elkins, WV: 92°-Tied, Muskegon, MI: 91°, Portland, ME: 91° and Binghamton, NY: 90°.


Hurricane Carol, the first of three hurricanes to affect the east coast, made landfall in New England at Westhampton, Long Island, NY. The storm moved through Connecticut and New Hampshire. Maximum winds of 130 mph were reported at Block Island, RI and 105 mph winds at Providence, RI. At Boston, MA winds reached 86 mph gusting to 100 mph. Tides were 10 to 15 feet above normal. 60 people were killed. The damage, estimated at $450 million dollars, exceeded any previous storm to that point. The historic steeple at Old North Church in Boston, where Paul Revere received his famous signal, fell in the middle of the storm. This was New England's second worst hurricane of the 20th century only to the 1938 storm.


11.40 inches of rain fell at Norfolk, VA, from Hurricane Cleo, setting their all-time 24 hour rainfall record.


Hurricane Kathleen brought a 3-day barrage of wind and storm surge to the Mexican coast, destroying the town of San Felipe and leaving 2,500 people homeless while sinking 60 vessels.


The low of 84° and high of 108° at Death Valley, CA were the coolest of the month. The average daily high was 115.7° and the average daily low was 93.4° for the month.


Hurricane David brought over $1 billion dollars in damage to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and killed over 1,200 people. Before making landfall, the Category 5 storm had maximum sustained winds of 175 mph.


This was a wild day across eastern South Dakota. Strong thunderstorms ripped across the area early in the morning and again in the afternoon hours. Numerous areas reported wind gusts of 50 to 90 mph including 80 mph winds at Lyons, SD which leveled a partially completed addition to a fire hall. Also portions of Hand County, South Dakota received 65 mph winds and baseball sized hail. The large hail broke numerous windows and knocked in several roofs.

Sioux Falls, SD was hit with a severe thunderstorm with a 62 mph wind gust which did a large amount of tree damage in the south and east sections of town during the early morning hours. To add insult to injury Sioux Falls was hit with another severe thunderstorm in the evening. The second storm was even stronger than the first one as it was accompanied with wind gusts up to 74 mph winds. Overall, Sioux Falls picked up 2.67 inches of rain with extensive wind damage.

Strong straight line winds from severe thunderstorms caused extensive damage to parts of northeast Nebraska, southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa. In Dakota County of northeast Nebraska, high winds of 50 to 70 mph blew down trees and power lines around South Sioux City. Winds of 70 to 80 mph caused extensive crop damage in Sioux, O'Brien, Plymouth and Clay Counties in northwest Iowa. Farm fields in a 30 mile stretch east of Primghar in O'Brien County were flattened. Also, several trees were uprooted and power lines were downed in these areas. Further north in southwest Minnesota, 90 mph winds damaged crops in northern Murray County. In addition, boats were damaged on several area lakes.


August 1983 was a scorcher across much of the northern plains. Sioux Falls, SD topped 90 degrees 22 times in that one month. That is the most time on record that Sioux Falls has topped 90° in the same month. In a normal year the area only tops 90 degrees 25 times all year.


Hurricane Elena stalled off the coast of West Central Florida. More than 300,000 residents fled their homes. Although Elena never came closer than 80 miles to the Tampa Bay area, its 40 to 50 mph sustained winds caused tides 6 feet above normal on the beaches and 7 feet above normal in the bay. The storm killed 4 people, destroyed more than 250 homes and damaged thousands of others before reversing course and coming ashore in Mississippi. Total damages to man-made property in Florida were estimated at $213 million dollars.


Cities from parts of northern California, Nevada north to Washington reported record high temperatures for the date, including Eugene and Portland, OR with afternoon highs of 102°. The high of 102° at Portland smashed their previous record for the date by 12 degrees. Redding, CA: 111°, Medford, OR: 102°-Tied, Salem, OR: 100°, Winnemucca, NV: 98°-Tied, Burns, OR: 95°, Olympia, WA: 94°, Quillayute, WA: 94° and Seattle, WA: 92°.

Thunderstorms moved into the southern portion of the San Joaquin Valley in southern California in Kern County. Straight line winds damaged several farms. Bakersfield reported a wind gust to 49 mph.

Widespread frost was reported in South Dakota. Aberdeen, SD established a record for the month of August with a morning low of 32° and Britton, SD dipped to 31°.


The Summer of 1988 officially recorded the second driest in history at Springfield, IL. During the months of June, July, and August, only 3.92 inches of rain was recorded. The only other summer drier was in 1897 when 3.87 inches fell.

The drought conditions that began during the spring continued well into August. The hottest weather of the year occurred in August in many areas. In terms of dollar amounts, damage was not as severe this month, since most of the damage to crops had already been done in June and July. By month's end, about 43% of the corn crop, 40% of the soy beans and 41% of the oat crop was lost. Additional crop damage during August totaled nearly $700 million dollars. For the summer, crop damage was estimated at around $3.5 billion dollars in Iowa alone.


Thunderstorms developing along a stationary front spread severe weather from Minnesota to Indiana. Thunderstorms in Minnesota produced baseball size hail near Saint Michael and Hutchinson, and drenched Moose Lake with 9 inches of rain in 6 hours.

Tucson, AZ hit 100° for a record 79th time in the year, surpassing the record established the previous year.


Portland, ME ended up with 15.22 inches of rain for the month, setting a new all-time monthly rainfall record for any month. The old record was 13.50 inches set in November 1983.


This was one of the coolest summers on record for the state of South Dakota. The cool weather resulted in crop losses estimated at $38 million dollars mainly east of the Missouri river.


Hurricane Emily raked the North Carolina Outer Banks. Winds reached 98 mph at the Cape Hatteras Weather Service Office along with 7.51 inches of rain. Another anemometer in the area recorded a wind gust to 107 mph. Water levels reach 10.5 feet above normal in the sound north of Buxton. The water reached 8.5 feet in the villages of Frisco and Hatteras. Diamond Shoals Coastal Marine Buoy was in the eye and recorded a low pressure of 964 millibars or 28.47 inHg. After the eye passed, sustained winds hit 103 mph with a peak gust of 148 mph.


The driest August on record followed the 3rd wettest July at Mobile, AL. Only 1.04 inches of rain fell at the Mobile weather office for the month. The previous low total was 1.26 set way back in 1884. Despite the dry August the summer months of June, July and August will go into the books as the 11th wettest with a 3 month total of 28.05 inches, the bulk of which fell during July with 18.52 inches.

This was only the third year in recorded history that no tropical storms occurred in August. Other years included 1941 and 1961.


Residents of the low-lying North Carolina Outer Banks were on the run for a second time as unpredictable Hurricane Dennis continued to perplex weather forecasters by lumbering back toward the coast after heading out to sea the day before. As the hurricane retrograded, blocked by high pressure, gale force winds and 14 foot seas pounded the coast. Roads were under water along Hatteras Island. At least 7 inches of rain fell in Brunswick County, North Carolina.


Major urban flooding occurred after a slow moving thunderstorm passed over the city of Odessa. Water depth of over two feet flooded many intersections with 20 vehicles reported to have water up to the windows.


Victoria, British Columbia Canada experienced its driest summer on record as 0.77 inches was reported at the airport. Gonzales Heights only recorded 0.32 inches during the same time period.


179 tornadoes occurred for the month in the U.S. to set a new record for most tornadoes in August.


Rains from former Hurricane Katrina set several August daily rainfall records in Quebec, Canada. 2.91 inches fell at Montreal's P.E. Trudeau Airport and 2.91 inches at Quebec City.

On this date through 9/3, Typhoon Talim made landfall in Taiwan late in the day with sustained winds near 120 mph. The typhoon shut down businesses, schools and financial markets and caused 1.48 million power outages. Total fatalities on the Chinese mainland reach at least 129.


According to the local National Weather Service, Las Vegas, NV recorded 13 thunderstorm days during this month at McCarran International Airport. This broke the old record of 12 days set in 1955. Las Vegas typically sees only 3.3 thunderstorm days during the entire month. As well, McCarran International Airport received 2.28 inches of rain during the month, which is 691% of normal where normal precipitation for August is only 0.33 inches.


This was only the sixth August without a hurricane in the Atlantic Basin (1967, 1984, 1988, 2001 & 2002).


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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