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Weather History: February 19: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, snow & floods

Meteorological events that happened on February 19th:


Professor Cleveland Abbe of the Signal Corps Service issued the first weather synopsis and forecasts along with warnings to mariners for the Great Lakes.


The Enigma Tornado Outbreak struck the Southern U.S. from Mississippi to Virginia with a total of 60 tornadoes. The death toll is uncertain (hence the name of the outbreak), but estimates ranged from 182 to 1,200 and 1,056 others injured. It was the most severe tornado outbreak ever to strike the state of Georgia. Leeds, AL and Columbus, GA were especially hard hit. No town was directly hit but damage totaled $4 million dollars, a very large sum for the rural south for this time period.


A tornado at F4 intensity hit Mount Vernon, IL killing 24 people along its 62 mile path. 300 homes and 50 buildings were destroyed.


High winds across the southern half of the Great Plains, gusting to 85 mph, caused the worst dust storms since the 1930s. Graders were needed in places to clear fence high dirt drifts.


A huge coastal storm hit the mid-Atlantic, northeast into southwestern Quebec, Canada. Interior sections were especially hard-hit by heavy snows, including totals of 23 inches at Williamsport, PA and McHenry, MD. 20 inches fell at Syracuse, NY. Snowdrifts piled up to 20 feet in northeast Pennsylvania. Storm surges up to 4.5 feet and winds gusting over 80 mph along coastal Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine resulted in extensive property damage and tremendous beach erosion. 27 houses were destroyed and 3,000 damaged in Massachusetts alone. Winds in southwestern Quebec gusted to 50 mph with snowfall totals up to 14.6 inches.


The famous "President's Day" storm surprised forecasters all along the East Coast. Computer models missed out on forecasting this major snowstorm. 25 inches of snow fell at Dover, DE while Baltimore, MD picked up 20 inches.


When the former National Severe Storms Forecast Center issued the first severe watch of the year on this date, it marked the latest date that had occurred in the history of the forecasting unit.

Massive flooding and mudslides continued in Southern California. An unofficial total of 22.24 inches of rain was reported in the mountains south of Monterey. 19 deaths were reported with $100 million dollars in damage. One person was killed in Arizona with $35 million dollars in damage.


The 33 dense fog days reported to this date in Salt Lake City, UT was the worst in 54 years. The winter of 1930-31 saw 42 dense fog days.


A winter storm over the southern and central Rockies produced 28 inches of snow at Echo Lake, CO, and 2 feet of snow at Gascon and Los Alamos, NM. Mora County, New Mexico was declared a disaster area following the storm.


Showers and thunderstorms across the southeastern U.S. drenched Valdosta, GA with more than 5 inches of rain. A 24 hour rainfall total of 7.10 inches at Apalachicola, FL more than doubled its previous 24 hour record for the month of February.


An upper level weather disturbance brought heavy snow to parts of Nebraska, with 6 inches reported at Loup City and Surprise.


A moist Pacific storm worked its way into New Mexico and southern Colorado. Up to 36 inches of snow blanketed the Wolf Creek and Red Mountain passes of southwest Colorado, and up to 15 inches of snow was reported around Trinidad. In New Mexico, the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains were blanketed with 9 to 28 inches of snow, and 50 to 60 mph wind gusts were reported from Taos to Albuquerque.


Intense snows caused by a "norlun" instability trough hit parts of Massachusetts. Chatham, MA picked up 20 inches of snow. For 3 hours, the snow fell at a rate of 4 inches per hour.


Unseasonably warm air occurred across much of the East. Some record highs for the date included: 64° at New York City, 63° at Newark, NJ and 56° at Bridgeport, CT. The Midwest also had mild weather, with highs in the 30s and 40s. Rapid snow melt and ice jams caused by the warm weather pushed some rivers out of their banks in Iowa, causing minor lowland flooding of farmland.


The temperature hit 122.9° at Mardie, Western Australia, the continent’s 2nd hottest temperature ever recorded.


Powerful thunderstorms raged across northern Bolivia, South America, causing flash flooding in La Paz and killing at least 50 people. The storm dropped widespread hail and injured more than 100 people.


A bombogenesis Nor'easter struck Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Canada producing strong winds and snow depths as high as 3.3 feet. Blowing and drifting snow with winds gusting as high as 62 mph halted all transportation including snowplows, cut power, and closed schools and businesses. Nova Scotia issued their first "Code Black" emergency measure in history.


The town of Oymyakon, Siberia set a brand new record low for the northern hemisphere when the temperature dropped to -96.1° (-71.2°C). This broke the previous record of -90.4° (-68°C) at Werchojansk, Russia in 1933.


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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