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Weather History: February 3: Record temps, storms, snow, ice, wind & tropics

Meteorological events that happened on February 3rd:


A great snowstorm dropped 20 inches of snow over the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina.


Boston Harbor was so thick with ice on this date that a channel had to be cut through the ice for a ship to leave with 30,000 letters for England.


A severe cold snap gripped areas from the Plains to Florida. Downtown Miami, FL reported an all-time record low of 27°. A few locations tied or broke record lows for February including: Athens, GA: 3°, Gainesville, FL: 17° and Key West, FL: 44°-Tied. Locations that reported daily record lows included: Sioux Falls, SD: -35°, Asheville, NC: -5°, Huntington, WV: 1°-Tied, Atlanta, GA: 2°, Roanoke, VA: 2°, Knoxville, TN: 2°, Lynchburg, VA: 3°-Tied, Greenville-Spartanburg, SC: 5°, Richmond, VA: 6°, Greensboro, NC: 7°, Birmingham, AL: 7°, Charlotte, NC: 8°, Augusta, GA: 9°, Columbia, SC: 9°, Raleigh, NC: 9°, Norfolk, VA: 9°, Montgomery, AL: 10°, Wilmington, NC: 13°, Savannah, GA: 13°, Meridian, MS: 13°, Tallahassee, FL: 15°, Jacksonville, FL: 16°, Pensacola, FL: 17°, Gainesville, FL: 17°, Ocala, FL: 18°, Waco, TX: 18°, Mobile, AL: 19°, Tampa, FL: 26°, West Palm Beach, FL: 28° and Fort Myers, FL: 33°.


A tornado moved from Lake Worth to Palm Beach, FL killing one person and damaging 83 homes.


Boston, MA reported their longest stretch with low temperatures of 10° or lower at 12, from 1/23 to 2/3/1936.


Record cold gripped parts of Alaska. The temperature at Tanacross, AK plunged to a record low of -75°. Gulkana, AK set an all-time record low with -65°. McGrath and Fairbanks reported February record lows with -64° and -58° respectively. Locations that reported daily record lows included: King Salmon, AK: -32°, Homer, AK: -16°, Juneau, AK: -10° and Cold Bay, AK: -7°.

The temperature dropped to -81° at Snag, Northwest Territories Canada, North America's lowest recorded official temperature, capping a week of intense cold in the Yukon. A temperature of -96° was recorded on 1/7/1982 near Summit Lake in British Columbia. While the recording was likely accurate it was not official.

The low temperature in Las Vegas was 27°. This marked the 32nd consecutive day with low temperatures at or below 32°, which is an all-time record.


On this date through the 5th, a large part of the Northeast and New England were reeling under their third great snowstorm of the winter. The Blizzard dumped 17.4 inches of snow on New York City, NY. Gale force winds blew the snow into 10 foot drifts that blocked city streets. Automobile travel was banned in New York City, NY for almost a week. Snowfall totals in other locations ranged from 10 to 24 inches in parts of Pennsylvania and 12 to 27 inches in parts of New Jersey. States of emergencies were declared. 73 people died as a result of the storm. Baltimore, MD set a record low with 4°.

Beginning January 20th, the daily low temperature at Albany, NY dropped to 0° or below for 15 consecutive days; a record for the location.


High pressure across the Great Basin brought record heat to parts of the West. February's record maximum temperature in the United States was set as Montezuma, AZ soared to 105°. Los Angeles (LAX), CA set their February record high with 92° and Big Bear Lake, CA hit 72°, tying their February record also set on 2/25/1986. Locations that reported daily record highs included: Yuma, AZ: 91°, Riverside, CA: 90°, Long Beach, CA: 90°, Palm Springs, CA: 90°, Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 88°, San Diego, CA: 85°-Tied, Santa Maria, CA: 84°, Palomar Mountain, CA: 73°, Eureka, CA: 72°, Reno, NV: 70°, Sacramento, CA: 68° and Stockton, CA: 68°.

Continuous strong northeast winds produced by a low pressure area east of the Florida coast generated high tides, rough surf and coastal flooding along entire northeast Florida coast from Nassau to Brevard Counties. Beaches sustained considerable erosion damage and some beach properties and roads were undermined. Damage was greater than expected as beaches had not been repaired from damages inflicted by a smaller storm in December 1962. Property damage was confined to the beach areas as winds inland were not sufficiently strong to cause other than minor property damage.


The first ESSA polar orbiting weather satellite was launched.


On this day and on the 4th, tornadoes hit the San Diego, CA neighborhoods of Tierrasanta and Allied Gardens. Eight mobile homes were damaged as well as other property. Funnel clouds were observed at Brown Field.


A 5-day ice storm of freezing drizzle and fog through the 5th caused ice to accumulate 5 to 8 inches thick across central North Dakota. Many people were left without power. The ice in Wisconsin felled millions of trees.


Arctic air continued to invade the central U.S. The temperature at Midland, TX plunged from a record high of 80° to 37° in just 3 hours. Morning lows in the higher elevations of Wyoming were as cold as -38°. Heavy snow blanketed southwestern Colorado, with 16 inches reported at Steamboat Springs.


A winter storm brought heavy snow and high winds to the western U.S. Up to 3 feet of snow blanketed the Sierra Nevada of California, and buried parts of northeastern Washington State under 3 feet in five days. High winds across Washington State reached 75 mph, with gusts to 105 mph.

Severe cold gripped the north central U.S. Wisdom, MT fell to -53°. Missoula, MT reported a wind chill reading of -85°. Sheridan, WY set their February record low with -32°. Locations that reported daily record lows included: Helena, MT: -36°, Great Falls, MT: -35°, Casper, WY: -29°, Billings, MT: -26° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Valentine, NE: -26°, Rapid City, SD: -23°, Missoula, MT: -22°, Denver, CO: -17°, Goodland, KS: -16°, Dodge City, KS: -13°, Topeka, KS: -8°, Wichita, KS: -7°-Tied, Clayton, NM: -6°, Amarillo, TX: -4°, Oklahoma City, OK: 0°, Tulsa, OK: 1° and Dallas, TX: 16°.


Thunderstorms developing ahead of a cold front produced severe weather over the central Gulf coast states during the afternoon and evening hours. Thunderstorms spawned 7 tornadoes in Alabama, including one that touched down north of Birmingham injuring 15 people and causing nearly $3 million dollars damage. A tornado at Margaret injured 11 people and caused a million dollars damage.


The eastern two-thirds of nation were in the icebox from late January through early February. Elkader tied Iowa’s all-time low at -47°. Elizabeth, IL dropped to -35° tying their states lowest temperature record; this record was broken in January 1999. Moline, IL dropped to -28° setting their all-time record low and besting their previous daily record by 11 degrees. Other locations reporting all-time record lows included: Preston, MN: -45°, Fayette, IA: -40°, Guttenberg, IA: -38°, Oelwein, IA: -32°, Platteville, WI: -32° and Lancaster, WI: -31°-Tied.

Des Moines, IA dipped to -26° to tie their February record low and broke their all time record for consecutive hours below 0° at 132. Other February record lows that were tied or broken included: Blair, WI: -45°, Decorah. IA: -41°, Necedah, WI: -41°, Sparta, WI: -41°, Trempealeau, WI: -41°, Hillsboro, WI: -40°, Genoa, WI: -38°, Viroqua, WI: -37°, Prairie du Chien, WI: -36°, Alma, WI: -35°, Lynxville, WI: -34°, Mauston, WI: -34°, Waterloo, IA: -31°-Tied, Madison, WI: -29°, Milwaukee, WI: -26°-Tied and Quincy, IL: -18°.

Locations that reported daily record lows included: La Crosse, WI: -35°, St. Cloud, MN -33°, Huron, SD: -31°, Marquette, MI: -31°, Houghton Lake, MI: -31° (broke previous record by 11 degrees), Casper, WY: -29°, Green Bay, WI: -28°, Ste. St. Marie, MI: -27°, Pueblo, CO: -26°, Rapid City, SD: -25°, Rockford, IL: -24°, Missoula, MT: -24°, Alpena, MI: -22°, Lincoln, NE: -22°, Norfolk, NE: -21°, Omaha. NE: -20°, Chicago, IL: -19°, Peoria, IL: -19°, Springfield, IL: -19°, Grand Island, NE: -19°, Goodland, KS: -19°, Colorado Springs, CO: -18°, Grand Rapids, MI: -17°, Muskegon, MI: -14°, South Bend, IN: -13°, Columbia, MO: -13°, Kansas City, MO: -12°, St. Louis, MO: -12°, Flint, MI: -11°, Topeka, KS: -9°, Cleveland, OH: -8°-Tied, Springfield, MO: -6°, Tulsa, OK: -5°, Oklahoma City, OK: 0°, Jackson, KY: 1°, Memphis, TN: 4°, Dallas (DFW), TX: 14°-Tied, Dallas, TX: 16°-Tied, Galveston, TX: 25°.


A winter storm dropped from 6 to 15 inches of snow across central and northeast South Dakota as well as west central Minnesota deepening the already expansive snowpack. The wind came up from the north at 20 to 30 mph during the morning of the 4th causing blowing and drifting snow blocking some roads and making travel hazardous if not impossible. Several vehicles got stuck or went off the road. Due to the heavy snowfall, a roof collapsed in Aberdeen damaging a car. Many schools started late or were canceled.

Centralia, WA set the states record for consecutive days of precipitation at 55 beginning on 11/10/1996.

Portions of the Thames River in England froze over for the first time since World War II.


A downslope windstorm occurred early in the morning along the western side of the Paradise Range, producing sustained winds estimated at 70 to 80 mph with gusts approaching 100 mph in Gabbs, NV. Several mobile homes were either overturned or blown off their moorings, numerous mature trees were completely uprooted, and there was widespread structural damage to small buildings around the mining facility. Most of the community was awakened from sleep by the storm as the strongest winds occurred during the overnight hours to sunrise. Residents reported they had never encountered wind of that intensity before, describing the experience as frightening.

Across parts of central California, numerous trees and power lines were downed, and many roofs were damaged in Kings, Tulare and Kern Counties. Peak wind gusts included 64 mph at Coarsegold, 61 mph at Tehachapi, 57 mph at Bakersfield and 55 mph at Hanford. Several areas along the west side of the Valley experienced flooding with a record flow of 14,500 cubic feet per second set on Los Banos Creek. Over 100,000 chickens died near Gustine when their farm was inundated with water. Bakersfield recorded their lowest barometric pressure ever, 29.24 inHg. Across southern California, heavy rain up to three inches caused flooding, mudslides and power outages. Strong storm winds gusted to 60 mph at Newport Harbor and 51 mph at San Clemente.


I-80 between Tooele and Grantsville, UT was closed in both directions after a massive chain reaction traffic accident involving eight semis and three other vehicles due to dense fog. Three people were killed in the fiery collision. The chain reaction wreck began when one truck crashed into another that had pulled off the highway because of the low visibility.


Lubbock, TX recorded their first measurable rain, 0.03 inches, in 98 days, ending their longest period on record without measurable precipitation.

The temperature plunged to record low of -56° at Point Lay, AK. Kodiak, AK reported a record low of -8°.


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.

Further west, blizzard conditions prevailed across southwest Lower Michigan as an arctic blast of frigid air moving over Lake Michigan produced thundersnow and whiteout conditions. Grand Rapids sets a record for snowfall for any February day with 11.3 inches.


Cyclone Yasi moved west toward Australia early last week after forming late the previous weekend over the South Pacific waters near the Solomon Islands. As it moved westward, the cyclone intensified to become a major category 4 storm as maximum sustained winds reached 155 mph with gusts to 183 mph. By midweek, Yasi made landfall with 170-mph winds and waves that reached heights of 42 feet. Though quite damaging to many areas, Australian officials were relieved that the cyclone was responsible for relatively few fatalities. The cyclone came on the heels of the previous month's massive flooding.


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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