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Weather History: February 20: Record temps, storms, wind, snow & flooding

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Meteorological events that happened on February 20th:


The Potomac River was opened after being closed by ice for a period of 2 months.


Eastern Wisconsin experienced a big snowstorm. Racine received 30 inches, and drifts around Milwaukee measured 15 feet high.


An F3 tornado killed 9 people and injured 50 others as it crossed Shreveport, LA. Centenary College was struck, an event that would be repeated in 1940.


31.93 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Honomu, HI located on the northeastern part of the Big Island north of Hilo.


A severe blizzard was in its 2nd day across southern New England. The snowfall was one of Connecticut's worst in modern times with 20 inch accumulations, high winds, and temperatures that dropped from near 32° to 5° during the course of the storm.


A snowstorm in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota produced drifts 10 feet high which derailed trains.


Bonilla Island, Canada recorded sustained winds of 89 mph; the highest on record for the Province of British Columbia.


Mammoth Mountain, CA in the southern Sierra Mountains received 109 inches of snow between the 13th and 20th.


A storm system over Arizona spread heavy snow from the Southern Rockies into the Southern Plains. Thunderstorms in central Texas produced golf ball size hail about the same time north central Texas was being blanketed with up to 8 inches of snow, closing many schools.


Snow and strong northerly winds ushered arctic air into the Great Lakes Region. The temperature at Sault Ste Marie, MI plunged from 30° at 5am to -1° by 3pm, with a wind chill reading of -40°.

Several cities in Florida reported record high temperatures for the date. The afternoon high of 90° at Lakeland was just one degree shy of their February record. Other record highs for the date in Florida included: Avon Park: 90°-Tied, Mountain Lake: 90°, Orlando: 89°, Hialeah: 88°, West Palm Beach: 88°-Tied, Miami: 87°, Belle Glade: 87°-Tied, Homestead: 86°, Vero Beach: 86°, Sanford: 86°, Melbourne: 86°-Tied, Daytona Beach: 85° and Cocoa Beach: 84°.


Thunderstorms developing during the early afternoon produced severe weather from eastern Texas to Alabama and northwest Florida. Thunderstorms spawned a dozen tornadoes during the afternoon and evening. Thunderstorms also produced 90 mph winds around Vicksburg, MS, and 100 mph winds around Jackson, MS.


Heavy snow spread into southwestern Kansas and the panhandle region of Oklahoma and Texas. Heavier snowfall totals included 12 inches at Boise City, OK, 11 inches at Liberal, KS, and 10 inches at Spearman, TX. Blowing and drifting snow closed roads in the Oklahoma panhandle.


Two strong areas of low pressure, one over Colorado and the other off the coast of Washington state, produced high winds, heavy rain, and heavy snow across the western U.S. Winds gusted to 85 mph at Fort Carson, CO and to 96 mph at Rock Springs, WY. Flagstaff, AZ was deluged with 3.93 inches of rain in 24 hours; their greatest 24 hour rainfall on record. Duck Creek, UT was buried under 49 inches of snow in 48 hours and the Sierra Ski Ranch in California recorded 74 inches of snow over a 4-day period to raise its snow cover to 200 inches.

Farther to the east, a strong overrunning pattern developed ahead of the area of low pressure over Colorado. Sioux City, IA was hit with 14 inches of snow in just 6 hours.


In Caribou, ME, the mercury soared to 59° to mark their warmest winter temperature ever. All of this in spite of a deep snow-cover.


The temperature at the Civic Center in Los Angeles, CA soared to 95°; the highest temperature ever recorded at the location during the month of February.


Heavy rain and thunderstorms soaked Texas and Oklahoma with several inches of rain, causing flooding in some areas. The weather was blamed for 4 deaths in Texas; 3 were killed in traffic accidents and 1 was struck by lightning. Rain fell on most of the state, with up to 5 inches reported in the south-central part. Flooding was reported from Austin, TX northward to south-central Oklahoma.

A vast mudslide swept off an Andean mountainside onto 2 remote villages in southeastern Peru burying up to 300 people. Inhabitants had been evacuated after weekend flooding, but their refuge above the village put them in the path of the mudslide.


Heavy rain caused flash flooding in Dhamar, Yemen trapping an estimated 1,900 people in their homes. 5 people died.


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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