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Weather History: February 23: Record temps, storms, snow, tornadoes & flooding

Meteorological events that happened on February 23rd:


A huge snowstorm affected the coast of New England. Snowfall amounts ranged as high as 4 feet south of Boston, MA. 54 inches of snow fell at Epping, NH. Three large Indiamen out of Salem were wrecked on Cape Cod by strong winds.


The mercury at Mt Holly, NJ, fell from 49° during the evening to 5° the next morning, a fall of 44 degrees in 12 hours, with most of it in the last 6 hours.


In a very rare occurrence, Athens, Greece reported snow.


A severe blizzard in the Sierra Nevada Range closed Donner Pass. It stranded 750 motorists and claimed 7 lives.


33 inches of snow fell on this day at Idyllwild, CA, their greatest snowfall amount on record.


A severe ice storm hit parts of Ohio. Up to one inch of glaze covered exposed objects.


An F4 tornado hit the Holiday Inn in Tuscaloosa, AL. Most of the upper floor of the motel was sheared away and a housekeeper was killed.


Five inches of snow fell in one hour at Philadelphia, PA during a big East Coast snowstorm. 24 inches of snow fell at Lancaster, PA and 23.5 inches at Coatesville, PA. Clarksville, MD recorded 18.2 inches, Washington, D.C. picked up 15 inches and Wilmington, Delaware received 14.4 inches. Much tree damage occurred and power outages were widespread. The snows were the result of a rapidly deepening low-pressure system; known as a bombogensis that strengthened from 1004 to 981 millibars in just 12 hours.

A strong winter storm slammed southern California and Arizona. As much as 22 inches of snow fell across the higher elevation of the San Bernardino Mountains. Lake Hughes reported four inches of snow in just one hour. Snow pellets piled up in coastal areas with up to three inches at Huntington Beach, and measurable sleet and hail at the San Diego Bay front. Cold air that followed dropped low temperatures below 40° at San Diego for three consecutive days, the coldest stretch since 1978.

The heaviest snowfall in many years fell across northern and central Arizona. The storm continued until the 26th and when it was all over the town of Williams recorded 35 inches of snow while Flagstaff had 31.2 inches. At one time, Prescott had 22 inches of snow on the ground.


Strong northwesterly winds ushered arctic air into the central U.S., with temperatures in Missouri were 30 degrees colder than the previous day. The strong winds produced squalls along the shore of Lake Superior, with up to 15 inches of snow reported over the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan.


Many cities in the central U.S. reported new record low temperatures for the date, including Lincoln, NE with a reading of -19°.


A fast moving storm produced near blizzard conditions in Michigan. Snowfall totals ranged up to 9.5 inches in Allegan County, wind gusts reached 74 mph at Ann Arbor, and 5 foot snow drifts were reported around Saginaw. The Michigan AAA records showed more than 5,000 traffic accidents reported, a near record for one day. There were several chain reaction collisions. One near Pontiac involved 100 cars.


A black rain fell on parts of eastern Turkey as soot from the Kuwait oil field fires mixed with the precipitation.


An early season heat wave hit the south with all-time February high temperatures including San Antonio, TX: 100°, Oklahoma City, OK: 92°, Fayetteville, AR: 87°, Birmingham, AL: 83° and Knoxville, TN: 83°.


Rivers were running out of their banks in parts of Illinois after record rainfalls in some areas, including Chicago the previous day.

A very unusual thundersnow squall hit Kodiak Airport in Alaska. A C-130 aircraft took two lightning strikes.


In this El Niño year, on this day through the 24th, the last in a series of storms slammed in to southern California bringing rainfall totals of two to five inches with widespread flooding, land & mudslides and winds that gusted up to 60 mph knocking down trees and power lines. Two people died and damage was estimated at $100 million dollars.

Further east heavy rain fell across the deserts of California with snow across the higher elevations. The town of Aspendell, in the southern Sierra, saw a storm total of 19 inches of new snow in a little over 12 hours.

Across southern Nevada, heavy snow occurred at elevations above 6,000 feet across the Spring Mountains. Some snowfall totals included 30 inches at the Lee Canyon Ski area, 20 inches near Pioche and 20 inches at Mt. Charleston. Strong gusty winds brought down power lines.

Otis, OR recorded their 79th straight day of rain. The streak which began on 12/7/97 remains the longest across the lower 48.


An ice storm struck Western Newfoundland in Canada, knocking out power to 1,600 customers. In Corner Brook, ice covered wires and branches to 2.75 inches thick.


City Workers in New York City conducted a "pothole blitz," filling 1,600 potholes in just one day. The potholes formed as melting snow and rain combined to create the automobile-jarring holes. Just one week earlier, New York City had been bombarded by a major snowstorm on Presidents' Day.

The 4th race of the America's Cup in Auckland, New Zealand between Team New Zealand and Team Alinghi was postponed for the 4th consecutive day because of calm winds. The culprit was low cloud cover that prevented the development of afternoon sea breezes.


A five day winter storm that started on the 18th dumped 3 to 6 inches of rain across southern California, coastal locations and inland valleys with over 12 inches in the foothills and mountains and over 2 inches in the deserts. Some of the larger totals included 18.79 inches at Lytle Creek, 12.33 inches at Lake Arrowhead and 6.80 inches at Fullerton. The storm pushed San Diego's winter precipitation total to 3rd all-time. Extremely heavy snow fell in the San Bernardino County Mountains with 4 to 8 feet of new snow above 7000 feet. Three tornadoes occurred in Orange, San Diego, and Riverside counties on the 19th.


Beginning the previous day, a strong upper level jet stream produced high winds along the front range of Colorado causing downed trees, power lines resulting in widespread power outages, overturned vehicles and two small wildfires in Boulder County. Some of the top wind gusts included 93 mph at Lyons, 88 mph at the National Center of Atmospheric Research at Mesa, 85 mph at Rocky Flats, 81 mph at Longmont, 81 mph at Nederland, 81 mph at the National Wind Technology Center at Wondervu, 79 mph at Boulder Municipal Airport, 77 mph at Rocky Mountain Municipal Airport, 76 mph atop Berthoud Pass, 75 mph near Aspen Springs, 7- mph at Longmont Municipal Airport, 64 mph at Erie Municipal Airport and 55 mph at Denver International Airport. Accompanying the upper level jet was snowfall totals that generally ranged from 2 inches at Denver International Airport to as much as 10 inches at Kiowa.


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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