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Weather History: February 2: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, snow & tropics

Meteorological events that happened on February 2nd:


Extreme cold occurred on Ground Hog Day. It dropped to -28° at Hartford, CT and -18° near Philadelphia, PA.


35.73 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Beerwah, Queensland, Australia.


The naming of hurricane after women was always the center of controversy. In the Southern Hemisphere near Australia, tropical cyclones were once called Willy-Willies. An Australian Meteorologist, Clement Wragge is credited for giving girls names to tropical cyclones by the end of the 19th Century. On this date, Wragge's weather journal showed a Willy-Willy named "Eline".


A Pacific Mail Steamer struck a rock while attempting to enter the Golden Gate during heavy fog. 128 people drowned.


The lowest temperature recorded on the North American Continent occurred at Snag, Yukon Territory with a reading -81°.


A strong arctic cold front moved through the upper Plains and Midwest. Temperatures at Alma, WI fell from a high temperature of 41 to -12° by the end of the day. This 53 degree difference between the high and low temperature tied 3/22/1951 for Alma's greatest diurnal temperature change.

The brutal morning low of -35° at Greensburg, IN was Indiana’s coldest reading until 1994. South Bend, IN reported a daily record low of -17°.


South Florida was hit by the only tropical storm on record, known as the Groundhog Day Storm, to hit the U.S. in February. The storm moved out of the Gulf of Mexico and across South Florida with 60 mph winds and 2 to 4 inches of rain. Miami Beach, FL reported a wind gust of 84 mph and Miami International Airport reported tropical storm force winds.


A massive black blizzard, a snowstorm combined with black dust and dirt churned from the earth by strong winds, struck the Southwest and Plains.


A record snowstorm in New Mexico and Texas began on this day. The storm dumped 15 inches of snow at Roswell, New Mexico and up to 33 inches in the Texas Panhandle.


Heavy icing from freezing rain accumulations through the 3rd occurred mainly across the eastern half of New York. Severe damage to power lines and telephone service occurred in the Watertown and Wessington Springs area. Ice coatings of up to 3 inches thick and having an estimated weight of 9 pounds per foot of wire formed around telephone and some power lines over a wide area of the eastern counties. A 300 foot tower high collapsed at Wessington Springs and in some areas utility wires were completely down for stretches of 2 to 3 miles. Some 170 long distance telephone circuits were knocked out in larger cities and 19 towns from Bonesteel south to Watertown on north were completely without telephone service for two to three days after the storm. Many highways were treacherous and numerous vehicles collided or slid off the road into the ditch. Many schools were also closed.


A quick moving but extremely intense coastal storm struck New England. Wind gusts exceeded 115 mph at Bear Island and Southwest Harbor, ME. Chatham, MA recorded a wind gust to 98 mph. Caribou, ME set a new all-time record low pressure of 957 millibars or 28.26 inHg and Boston, MA recorded their second lowest pressure ever at 965 millibars or 28.48 inHg. Tides 3 to 5 feet above normal caused extensive coastal flooding. Parts of Bangor, ME were under 12 feet of water as a storm surge funneled up the Penobscot River to the mouth of the Kenduskeag Stream which in turn inundated Bangor in a matter of 15 minutes. A 40 to 50 degree temperature drop followed a sharp cold front with blizzard conditions occurring over interior sections of New England for a few hours. 13 inches of snow fell at Danforth, ME.

Saint John, New Brunswick Canada and the area around the Bay of Fundy reported wind gusts to 118 mph and wave heights up to 39 feet with swells to 32.5 feet.


A windstorm in Chautauqua County in western New York produced gusts over 70 mph. It knocked out electric power to more than 1000 customers and flipped over two tractor trailer units parked along the Thruway.

A major snowstorm struck the Plains and upper Midwest. 15 inches of snow was reported at Concordia, KS while residents across the Midwest from parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin received amounts ranging from 6 to 12 inches.

Residents across parts of northern and central Florida dealt with a severe weather outbreak. Fourteen tornadoes and 14 severe thunderstorms were reported across the Florida Peninsula, killing three people and injuring 31 others. A tornado destroyed two homes in north Orlando and eight apartment units in southeast Orlando injuring nine people.


Up to 9 inches of sleet, freezing rain and snow paralyzed North Alabama. It was the worst winter storm since 1963 across Northwest Alabama. Travel was impossible north of Birmingham. Four people died.

Out west, Palm Springs, CA reported two inches of snow.


A fast moving arctic front brought snow and high winds to the north central U.S. Winds gusted to 69 mph at Brookings, SD. Big Falls, MN reported 9 inches of snow.

Record warmth was reported just ahead of the front. Burlington, IA reported a record high of 59°.


A dying subtropical storm system dropped four inches of rain across the mountains of San Diego County. More than four inches fell in Imperial Beach in 24 hours and 3.71 inches in 8 hours. 1.5 inches fell at Chula Vista, 1.25 inches fell at San Diego and less than an inch fell in other parts of San Diego County. Standing water was five feet deep at

some intersections. Some homes were flooded with three to six feet of water. 50 homes in Imperial Beach were flooded. 30 families were displaced by flooded homes. Power outages and road closures also resulted. Damage totaled half a million dollars.

Arctic air invaded the north central U.S. sending the mercury plunging to -38° at Park Rapids, MN.

On the East Coast, Raleigh, NC reported a record high of 75°.


Bitter cold air covered areas from the Yukon Territory in Canada south across much of the central U.S. Dawson, Yukon Territory reported the highest sea-level pressure ever recorded in Canada at 31.88 inHg. Butte, MT reported a wind chill reading of -91°, Salt Lake City, UT was blanketed with 11.9 inches of snow in 24 hours, and winds around Reno, NV gusted to 80 mph.

Unseasonably warm weather continued across the southeastern U.S. Many cities reported record high temperatures for the date, including Wilmington, NC with a reading of 80°.


Thunderstorms developing ahead of a cold front produced severe weather across the Lower Mississippi Valley during the late afternoon and evening hours. One person was injured in a tornado near Reidheimer, LA. Thunderstorms northeast of Brandon, MS produced hail 3 inches in diameter along with high winds which downed or snapped off 100 trees.


An Arctic outbreak that lasted from late January through early February produced nearly 400 hundred record lows, 15 all-time low readings and over 50 new record lows for the month of February. Four states recorded their all-time record low temperatures including Tower, MN on this date with a reading of -60°, cancelling Tower's annual Icebox Days festival because it is too cold. Locations that reported their all-time record low or tied included: Cresco, IA: -36°, Osage, IA: -34°, Charles City, IA tied their all-time record low with -32° and Lancaster, WI tied their all-time record low with -31°.

International Falls, MN and Glasgow, MT set records for the month of February with -45° and -38°, respectively. The temperature at Embarrass, MN plummeted to -53°. Rochester, MN dipped to -34° for its coldest temperature in 45 years. Green Bay, WI only reached -16° for the high temperature for the day, their coldest high temperature on record in February. The place to be this day was in Orlando, FL where it was a balmy 85°.

Meanwhile, farther to the east, heavy snow blanketed the Mid Atlantic region. 18 inches of snow fell at Rehoboth Beach, DE and 17 inches fell at Solomon Island, MD. Charleston, WV recorded 6.8 inches of snow for the day to bring their seasonal snowfall to 80.7 inches, the city's snowiest winter ever, and it was only early February. Up to two feet of snow fell across Middle Tennessee.


A powerful Pacific storm brought wind gusts of 90 mph to parts of central California as El Nino continued on the rampage. Heavy snows across the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and heavy rains at the lower elevations were actually a welcome problem as the precipitation replenished water supplies.


Trees, power lines and roofs fell victim to wind gusts of more than 100 mph as a storm pushed into the Rockies from the Pacific Northwest. A wind gust to 119 mph was recorded at Wondervu, CO a small foothills community southwest of Boulder.


In Canada, Ottawa's Rideau Canal, renowned as the world's longest skating rink, finally opened, its latest opening date ever. For most of the winter the Canal had been a stretch of slush and puddles. It will be the shortest skating season ever lasting just 25 days.


Freezing rain began in New Brunswick, Canada causing thousands of power outages. Initial estimates indicated the storm cost New Brunswick Power between $3 and $6 million dollars in damage repair. A power company spokesman called the ice storm the worst in the utility's history, eclipsing the 1998 ice storm at New Brunswick.

In Africa, a tornado struck remote areas of the central Congo about 150 miles northeast of the capital of Kinshasa. The tornado killed more than 100 people, injured 1,700 others, more than 200 critically.


A 24-hour record rainfall event occurred across the State of Victoria in Australia. Many local records were set including Melbourne with 4.72 inches.


New Orleans, LA was struck by two tornadoes, collapsing at least one previously damaged house and battering the Louis Armstrong International Airport.


On this date through the 12th, a tremendous lake effect snow event was just starting across western New York. Some storm snowfall totals off Lake Erie: East Aurora: 42 inches; Orchard Park: 36 inches; Boston: 26 inches; Warsaw: 24 inches; Dunkirk: 18 inches; and West Seneca: 12 inches. Snowfall totals off Lake Ontario: Redfield: 141 inches; Parish: 121 inches; North Osceola and Mexico: 106 inches; Oswego: 84 inches; and Watertown: 26 inches.

The Governor of New York declared Oswego and Lewis counties Disaster Areas. President Bush declared a Federal Snow Emergency for these areas. The weight of the snow on buildings posed an added danger with several reports of collapsed buildings.


Hilo, HI was deluged by 10.82 inches of rain in 24 hours, breaking the previous record set in 1969 with just 3.5 inches.


Check out my colleague Weather Examiners:

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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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