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Weather History: February 18: Record temps, storms, wind, snow & flooding

Meteorological events that happened on February 18th:


While much of the central and eastern U.S. was recovering from the most severe cold wave of modern history, the temperature at San Francisco, CA soared to 80° to establish a record for month of February.


Some of the higher elevations of California were in the midst of a 5-day storm; ending on the 19th which produced over 15 feet of snow in some places (as much as 189 inches of snow, a single storm record for North America).


On this date through the 20th, a huge snowstorm struck the northeast from Maryland to New England with up to 36 inches of snow through the 20th resulting in millions of dollars in damage. At least 26 people lost their lives.


The temperature dropped to -49° at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, the city's all-time lowest recorded temperature.


The "George Washington Day Snowstorm" occurred across the northeast. Blizzard conditions developed in Pennsylvania on the 19th forcing I-80 to close. Towanda, PA picked up 30 inches of snow. Winds up to 50 mph created snowdrifts up to 20 feet in some parts of north-central Pennsylvania. Thousands of motorists were stranded.


A small, but intense low pressure system "bombed-out" near Cape Hatteras, NC and moved slowly up the east coast; known as the President’s Day snowstorm. Snow began to fall in Washington, D.C. during the afternoon. On the morning of the 19th, residents around the nation’s capital awoke to the biggest snowfall since the Knickerbockers snowstorm of 1922. Dulles Airport received 16.3 inches of snow, National Airport received 18.7 inches, while up to 26 inches buried the eastern suburbs. With 6 inches of snow on the ground before the storm, the snow-covered in Washington area ranged from 24 to 30 inches. Forecasters believed the storm would move south of Washington and out to sea only grazing the area with a light snow of 1 to 3 inches. As snow piled up across the Washington area snow forecast were updated frequently to catch up with the rapid increase in accumulation. Other notable accumulations included BWI Airport with 20 inches, Philadelphia, PA with 14.3 inches; Richmond, VA with 10.7 inches; Charlotte, NC with 10 inches; Greensboro, NC with 9.3 inches; and Raleigh, NC with 10.4 inches.

The temperature at Old Forge, NY plunged to -52° to establish a state record.


A series of 6 major storms hit California from the 13th to the 21st. The southern part of the state was hit the hardest with 30 deaths due to flooding, mudslides, and traffic accidents. 12.75 inches of rain was measured at the Los Angeles Civic Center and 31.69 inches was recorded at Mount Wilson.


A major storm system dumped heavy snow in the Midwest with the heaviest amounts in Nebraska. 24 inches was recorded at Verdigre and 22 inches fell at Norfolk. 24-hour snowfall records were set at Norfolk and Grand Island. Winds up to 40 mph resulted in considerable blowing and drifting of the snow and many roads in northeastern Nebraska were made impassable.


A small but intense low pressure system combined with northerly upslope winds produced 8 inches of snow in 5 hours at Meeteetsie, WY, located southeast of Cody.


Thunderstorms soaked the Central Gulf Coast Region with heavy rain. Totals in southern Louisiana ranged up to 8.50 inches near the town of Ridge, with 6.55 inches at Plaguemine. Thunderstorms in northern Florida drenched Apalachicola with 5.41 inches of rain in 24 hours, and produced wind gusts to 75 mph at Mayo.


Low pressure off the coast of North Carolina brought freezing rain and heavy snow to Virginia and the Carolinas. Snowfall totals in Virginia ranged up to 18 inches at Franklin. Freezing rain reached a thickness of 2 inches around Charlotte, NC.


An intense but slow moving Pacific storm worked its way across Utah over a 2-day period. The storm blanketed the valleys with 4 to 12 inches of snow, and produced up to 42 inches of snow in the mountains. Heavy snow also fell across northern Arizona. Williams received 22 inches of snow, and 12 inches was reported along the south rim of the Grand Canyon.


A thunderstorm spawned an unusually strong F4 tornado for so far north for the time of the year in southern Van Wert County in Ohio. The tornado touched down just west of US Route 127 and traveled northeastward for about 3 miles. One house was completely leveled and 9 others experienced severe damage. 6 people were injured.


Cuba's coldest morning on record was recorded as Bainoa dropped to 33°.


A vast mudslide swept off an Andean mountainside in southeastern Peru before dawn, burying the villages of Ccocha and Pumaranra with a torrent of mud and rocks. Inhabitants had been evacuated after weekend flooding, but their refuge in a fold of the mountain above the village put them in the path of the mudslide. 3 people were killed.


Heavy snow fell over much of Turkey causing traffic accidents, disrupting air transport and closing schools. Drifts up to 5 feet high were recorded in the province of Van in eastern Turkey. Istanbul picked up 9 inches.


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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