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Weather History: December 13: Record temps, storms, ice, snow & wind

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Meteorological events that happened on December 13th:


A heavy snowstorm kicked off the snowiest winter in modern records for western New England.


A frigid storm hit the region beginning the previous day continuing on this day. These days were likely the coldest on record in Southern California. On this day the high temperature in Santa Ana was 45°, 46° at Palm Springs and 48° at Escondido, the lowest maximum temperature for those locations on record. Yuma, AZ managed an afternoon high of only 36°, setting their lowest high temperature for the date.

Record lows established for the date included: Elko, NV: -35° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), Lander, WY: -23°: Tied, Winnemucca, NV: -14°, Salt Lake City, UT: -7° and Muskegon, MI: 4°-Tied.


The temperature plummeted to -63.4° at Malgovik, Sweden, the country’s coldest night on record.


Yellowknife, Northwest Territories Canada recorded their warmest December day when the daily high soared to 37°.


One of the coldest December outbreaks in memory for the southeastern U.S. and Florida was courtesy of arctic high pressure that pushed a cold front through the central Bahamas into the northwest Caribbean Sea. A severe freeze occurred in Florida. Morning lows ranged from the single digits and teens in the northern part of the state, the 20s in the central, mid 30s across the mainland south to the upper 30s to mid 40s in the Keys. It was the coldest December weather of the 20th century and caused millions of dollars damage to crops and foliage. In Georgia, the morning low of -9° at Blairsville established a state record for the month of December. Millions of dollars damage to crops resulted.

Locations tying or setting December low temperature records included: Bristol, TN: -9° (broke previous daily record by 16 degrees), Columbus, GA: 4° (broke previous daily record by 12 degrees), Macon, GA: 5° (broke previous daily record by 17 degrees), Montgomery, AL: 5° (broke previous daily record by 15 degrees), Charleston, SC: 8°, Savannah, GA: 9°, Tallahassee, FL: 10° (broke previous daily record by 10 degrees), Pensacola, FL: 11°-Tied, Gainesville, FL: 13°, Apalachicola, FL: 13°, Tampa, FL: 18° and Orlando, FL: 20°-Tied.

Locations reporting daily record low temperatures for the date included: Beckley, WV: -13° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Elkins, WV: -11°, Nashville, TN: -7° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), Asheville, NC: -6° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), Lexington, KY: -6° (broke previous record by 11 degrees), Evansville, IN: -6°, Akron, OH: -5°, Youngstown, OH: -5°, Pittsburgh, PA: -5°, Indianapolis, IN: -4°: Tied, Oak Ridge, TN: -3° (broke previous record by 18 degrees), Paducah, KY: -3° (broke previous record by 15 degrees), Louisville, KY: -3° (broke previous record by 11 degrees), Cincinnati, OH: -3°, Cleveland, OH: -3°, Huntington, WV: -3°, Chattanooga, TN: -2° (broke previous record by 18 degrees), Knoxville, TN: -2° (broke previous record by 15 degrees), Hartford, CT: -1°, Erie, PA: -1°, Huntsville, AL: 0° (broke previous record by 17 degrees), Greensboro, NC: 0° (broke previous record by 11 degrees), Binghamton, NY: 0°, Charleston, WV: 0°,. Birmingham, AL: 1° (broke previous record by 19 degrees), Atlanta, GA: 1° (broke previous record by 18 degrees), Tupelo, MS: 1°, Detroit, MI: 1°-Tied, Syracuse, NY: 0°-Tied, Athens, GA: 2° (broke previous record by 15 degrees), Charlotte, NC: 2° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Lynchburg, VA: 3°, Meridian, MS: 4° (broke previous record by 15 degrees), Raleigh, NC: 4°, Memphis, TN: 5° (broke previous record by 20 degrees), DeFuniak Springs, FL: 5°, Augusta, GA: 6°, Columbia, SC: 6°, Greenville-Spartanburg, SC: 6° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Baltimore, MD: 7°, Jackson, MS: 8° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Little Rock, AR: 9°, Richmond, VA: 9°, Wilmington, NC: 10°, Baton Rouge, LA: 11°, Jacksonville, FL: 12°, Norfolk, VA: 14°, Brunswick, GA: 14°, Shreveport, LA: 16°, New Orleans, LA: 17°, Lake Charles, LA: 18°, Cape Hatteras, NC: 19°-Tied, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 20°, Daytona Beach, FL: 21°, Melbourne, FL: 22°, St. Petersburg, FL: 29°, Vero Beach, FL: 25°, Fort Myers, FL: 26°, Naples, FL: 27°, Hollywood, FL: 29°, West Palm Beach, FL: 30°, Fort Lauderdale, FL: 30°, Tavernier, FL: 39° and Key West, FL: 46°.


Behind a strong cold front, arctic high pressure moved down bringing record low temperatures to a few locations including: Chester, MT: -30°, Townsend, MT: -24°, Lewistown, MT: -22°, Stanford, MT: -22°, Billings, MT: -16°, Rapid City, SD: -10°, Goodland, KS: -9° and Sheridan, WY: -9°.


An area of lower pressure combined with a digging upper level trough brought snow and record cold to parts of the west. Snow fell in the lower elevations in southern California. A heavy snow event in the mountains also began on this day and ended on the 19th. At lower elevations on this day, 6 inches fell at Temecula, 5 inches at Fallbrook, 4.5 inches at Anza Borrego State Park (their greatest snowfall on record), 3 inches in Borrego Springs, 2 inches in Carlsbad and a light covering was reported over many San Diego mesas. The only other measurable snowfall on record at Borrego Springs occurred two days later (2 inches on the 15th). The entire period of snow brought 50 inches to Mt. Laguna, 38 inches in Idyllwild, two feet to Palomar Mountain, and 12 to 18 inches to the higher elevations. Marble size hail hit Palomar Mountain from thunderstorms preceding the snow storm. One freezing death resulted, numerous schools and highways were closed, transportation was disrupted and there were power outages. There were two drowning deaths in San Diego County.

Locations reporting record low temperatures for the date included: Casper, WY: -16°, Bishop, CA: 8°, Olympia, WA: 12°, Portland, OR: 19°, Santa Maria, CA: 24°, Quillayute, WA: 25°, Borrego Springs, CA: 31°. Las Vegas, NV recorded a high temperature of 35°, setting a low maximum record for the day.


Not nearly as pronounced as in days past, the upper level trough across the west brought record low temperatures for the date including: Ely, NV: -16°, Winnemucca, NV: -15°, Boise, ID: -14°, Yakima, WA: -8°, Burns, OR: -7°, Reno, NV: -2°, Astoria, OR: 11° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Palomar Mountain, CA: 12°, Portland, OR: 18°, Sacramento, CA: 20°, San Francisco Airport, CA: 30°-Tied and Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 41°-Tied. Fresno and Borrego Springs, CA recorded record low maximum temperatures for the date with 32° and 52° degrees respectively.


A winter storm beginning on the date through the 15th left a heavy ice coating across parts of northwest Oklahoma. One to two inches of ice accumulated on everything in the area. The weight of the ice brought down power lines, leaving about 6,000 people without electricity for a week. Ice also caused severe damage to trees, even uprooting some of them.


A major winter storm produced high winds and heavy snow in the Southern Rockies and the Southern Plains. Snowfall totals in New Mexico ranged up to 25 inches at Cedar Crest, with up to 3 feet reported in the higher elevations. Winds of 75 mph, with gusts to 124 mph, were reported northeast of Albuquerque, NM. El Paso, TX was buried under 22.4 inches of snow, including a single storm record of 16.8 inches in 24 hours. The snowfall total surpassed their previous record for an entire winter season of 18.4 inches. Record cold was experienced the next 3 nights as readings dipped into the single digits.

Strong Santa Ana winds blew across southern California. Grapevine, CA reported a gust to 100 mph. In San Bernardino, gusts topped 60 mph with some gusts up to 80 mph around San Bernardino. Strong damaging winds also hit San Diego County and 38 mph was recorded at San Diego. 80 power poles were blown down within a half mile stretch in Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga. One was injured when a tree fell on a truck. Downed tree limbs damaged cars, homes and gardens. Power poles and freeway signs were damaged. A parked helicopter was blown down a hillside in Altadena. Trees were blown down on power lines causing power outages in San Diego County. One was killed by a Eucalyptus tree falling on a truck in Spring Valley.

Record low maximum: Big Bear Lake and Riverside, CA set record low maximums for the date with 27° & 52° respectively.


Low pressure off the Atlantic coast produced up to a foot of snow in eastern Nassau and western Suffolk County of southeastern New York State with some record lows while mild weather prevailed across the western half of the country. 14 cities reported record high temperatures for the date, including: Goodland, KS: 74°, Redding, CA: 74°, Pueblo, CO: 73°, North Platte, NE: 70°, Colorado Springs, CO: 69°, Sacramento, CA: 67°, Rapid City, SD: 65°, Grand Island, NE: 63°, Big Bear Lake, CA: 61°, Sheridan, WY: 60°-Tied, Billings, MT: 59°, Casper, WY: 56°, Townsend, MT: 54° and Boulder, MT: 50°.

Some locations from the Mid-Atlantic to New England reported record low temperatures for the date including: Concord, NH: -8°, Albany, NY: -6°, Allentown, PA: 5°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 7°, Islip, NY: 14° and Wallops Island, VA: 14°.


Strong northwesterly winds, ushering bitterly cold arctic air into the central U.S., produced squalls with heavy snow in the Great Lakes Region. Snowfall totals in Upper Michigan ranged up to 24 inches at Manistique. Several cities reported record low temperatures for the date, including Marquette, MI: -11°: Tied, Calico Rock, AR: 4°, El Paso, TX: 11°, Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 12°, Waco, TX: 18°, Houston, TX: 19°, Austin, TX: 22°, Corpus Christi, TX: 25°, Redding, CA: 25°, Victoria, TX: 25° and Brownsville, TX: 30°.


Beginning the previous day, a winter storm brought heavy snow, ice, and cold temperatures to the Black Hills and west central sections of South Dakota. Icy and snow packed roads and blowing snow contributed to over 80 traffic accidents in the Black Hills alone. At least two large chain reaction pileups occurred on Interstate 90 west of Rapid City. Up to a foot of snow fell in Rapid City with other notable amounts including 22 inches at Lead, 18 inches at Deerfield, and 13 inches at Edgemont.


On this date through the 14th, strong low pressure over Arkansas brought heavy snow to northwest Iowa and near blizzard conditions. During the rush hour, snow was falling at a rate of an inch per hour. Slippery roads resulted in numerous accidents. Drifting became a serious problem as north winds of 15 to 30 mph piled the snow into drifts. The heaviest snowfall totals were in Sioux City, Sheldon, Everly and Cherokee with 7 inches.

A high wind event developed across areas of Southwest Kansas shortly after midnight. Wind gusts recorded were 90 mph in the vicinity of Johnson City, 70 mph at Elkhart and 64 mph at Garden City. Some power lines and tree limbs were knocked down in the Garden City area.


A freak cold snap and snowstorm struck parts of northern Mexico left 12 people dead and the area paralyzed. It snowed in the city of Guadalajara for the first time since 1881, leaving amazed residents to gawk at the white stuff and make snowmen. The temperature plunged to 5° in Chihuahua.


A powerful winter storm spread heavy snow through the eastern half of Missouri as well as central and southern Illinois. Final snowfall amounts ranged from 4 to 6 inches in northeast Missouri and west central Illinois, to 6 to 8 inches in central and east central Missouri and southwest Illinois and 8 to 10 inches in southeastern Missouri. Some schools in rural areas remained closed for several days as the weather stayed very cold and some minor snowfalls kept traveling conditions poor.


Bitter cold griped parts of Central Europe. Some notable low temperatures were Salzburg, Austria with -4.4°, Churanov in the Czech Republic at -4.4° and Bialystok, Poland with -7.1°.


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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