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Weather History: January 11: Record temps, storms,wind, snow & flooding

Meteorological events that happened on January 11th:


A late night F4 tornado hit Fort Smith, AR killing 55 people and injuring 113 others. This made it one of the deadliest twisters in Arkansas’ history. A street sign was found 22 miles away.


The coldest day in Alberta Canada occurred as the temperature dropped to -78° at Fort Vermillion.

The temperature at Rapid City, SD plunged 47 degrees in just 15 minutes.


A tremendous blizzard completely immobilized the Midwest, stopping mail service for two weeks. The vast storm then moved through the Great Lakes Region and Ohio Valley. Winds reached 60 mph at Toledo, OH, and the temperature plunged from 28° to -15° during the passage of the cold front.

Many locations mainly from the Rockies to the Mississippi River Basin reported record low temperatures for the date including: Sioux Falls, SD: -32°, Valentine, NE: -32°, Kennebec, SD: -29°, Mobridge, SD: -27°, Watertown, SD: -27°, Norfolk, NE: -26°, Sioux City, IA: -26°, Lincoln, NE: -23°, Omaha, NE: -22°, Concordia, KS: -20°, Grand Island, NE: -20°, Dodge City, KS: -19°, Peoria, IL: -19°, Springfield, IL: -18°, Springfield, MO: -18°, Colorado Springs, CO: -17°, Goodland, KS: -17°, Columbia, MO: -17°, Kansas City, MO: -16°, Moline, IL: -16°, Pueblo, CO: -15°, Topeka, KS: -15°, Wichita, KS: -14°, St. Louis, MO: -14°, Clayton, NM: -10°, Winslow, AZ: -9°, Amarillo, TX: -8°, Oklahoma City, OK: -7° (followed by an afternoon high of 2; their coldest high temperature on record), Lubbock, TX: -7°, Fort Smith, AR: -6°, Roswell, NM: -6°, Tulsa, OK: -5°, Memphis, TN: -3°, Albuquerque, NM: 0°, Abilene, TX: 1°, Dallas (DFW), TX: 4°, Dallas (Love Field), TX: 5°, Birmingham, AL: 8°, Waco, TX: 10°, Austin, TX: 12°, Del Rio, TX: 12°, San Antonio, TX: 12°, Meridian, MS: 13°, El Paso, TX: 14°, Houston, TX: 14°, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 16°, Galveston, TX: 16°, Victoria, TX: 17°, Tucson, AZ: 18°, Corpus Christi, TX: 21° and Escondido, CA: 26°.

An F3 tornado destroyed a small rural school in Houston County, Alabama killing 7 students and the teacher. Nearly every building in the town of Webb, AL was damaged by the twister.


Two inches of snow fell at Palm Springs, CA, their greatest daily snowfall on record. The only other daily measurable snowfall on record was 1.5 inches on 1/31/1979.

Several locations across the West reported record lows for the date including: Medford, OR: -3°, Pendleton, OR: -2°, Eugene, OR: 10°, Astoria, OR: 18° and Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 36°.


New South Wales in Australia recorded their hottest day on record when the high at Wilcannia reached 122°.


Rhode Island's record low temperature of -23° was set at Kingston. This record was broken on 2/5/1996.

Locations across the eat that reported daily record low temperatures for the date included: Concord, NH: -24°, Allentown, PA: -11°, Hartford, CT: -10°, Worcester, MA: -8°, Williamsport, PA: -8°, Richmond, VA: -8°, Greensboro, NC: -5°, Charleston, WV: -4°, Asheville, NC: -2°, Newark, NJ: 2°, Wilmington, DE: 3°, Raleigh, NC: 6°, Greensville-Spartanburg, SC: 12°, Charleston, SC: 14°, Macon, GA: 15°, Baton Rouge, LA: 19°, Tallahassee, FL: 19°, Gainesville, FL: 24°-Tied and Fort Myers, FL: 37°-Tied.

Out west, Palomar Mountain, CA set their January record high with 82°.


An unusually strong F2 tornado struck Los Gatos and Sunnyvale, CA, causing $1.5 million dollars in damage. San Jose, CA also was hit by an F2 tornado causing $50,000 damage.


A major January snowstorm between the 11th and 16th set several California snowfall records. Marlette Lake received 44 inches with an amazing 149 inches at Tahoe.


Arctic high pressure behind a strong cold front brought record cold to parts of the Rockies and West Coast. Denver, CO tied their all-time record low with -25°. This also broke their previous daily record by 15 degrees. Cheyenne, WY recorded their all-time lowest high temperature with -21°. Locations that reported daily record low temperatures included: Lander, WY: -32°, Missoula, MT: -27°, Casper, WY: -27°, Sheridan, WY: -25°, Billings, MT: -21°, Colorado Springs, CO: -18°, Pocatello, ID: -17°, Goodland, KS: -17°-Tied, Grand Junction, CO: -16°, Clayton, NM: -16°, Lewiston, ID: -11°, Pendleton, OR: -11°, Salt Lake City, UT: -9°, Olympia, WA: 6°, Portland, OR: 11°, Seattle, WA: 12° and Astoria, OR: 15°.

Brownsville, TX set a record high with 88°.


Heavy snow fell across northern Oregon through the 12th. There was heavy damage to trees, which knocked out 90% of power to the area. Blizzard conditions brought traffic to a standstill, particularly over Mt. Hood, where traffic was backed up at one point for 18 miles.


This was the last day of record lows across parts of the East as the arctic high pressure moved off the southeast coast and the upper level over Eastern Canada began to move out. Locations that reported record lows included: Elkins, WV: -15°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 0°, Myakka River, FL: 24°, Mountain Lake, FL: 25°, Weekiwachee, FL: 25°-Tied, Vero Beach, FL: 28°, Winter Haven, FL: 28°, Bartow, FL: 28°-Tied, Tampa, FL: 30°-Tied, Fort Myers, FL: 33° and Key West, FL: 48°.


A deep and very strong upper level trough dug in west of the Mississippi River. Idaho hit hard by wind and snowfall that was said to be the worst in memory. 2,000 travelers were stuck on the road and had to spend the night in the National Reactor Test Facility near Idaho Falls.

Downslope winds hit the eastern slopes of the Rockies in northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. The National Center for Atmospheric Research at Boulder, CO reported a wind gust of 144 mph. A wind gust of 105 mph was reported at Rocky Flats south of Boulder, 90 mph in downtown Boulder, 81 mph further north at Cheyenne, WY and 53 mph at the former Stapleton Airport in Denver. The greatest damage from the windstorm occurred in Boulder where at least 25 mobile homes were destroyed either by wind or fire resulting from when they were overturned. In addition car windows were blown out, utility poles & power lines were downed, traffic lights downed and structural damage. Damage was estimated at $25 million dollars.


An intense low pressure system moved nearly straight northward from south central Iowa to southeast Minnesota producing a severe blizzard in the tri-state area. This storm turned out to be one of the worst winter events of all time and is often referred to as "The Blizzard of the Century". Snow amounts of 8 to 15 inches were accompanied by wind gusts to 75 mph. Snow drifted to 20 feet paralyzing the entire area. Thousands of motorists were stranded. In northwest Iowa, 15 deaths were attributed to the storm. In addition, livestock losses were substantial. Estimates included 15,000 cattle; 15,000 hogs; 1,500 sheep; and 70,000 chickens totaling to about $20 million dollars in losses. The governor of Iowa requested that 40 northwest counties be declared as Federal Disaster areas.

Behind the storm, Alamosa, CO set a record low with -28°.


Arctic high pressure across the Midwest brought record low temperatures from the Midwest to the Great Lakes including: St. Cloud, MN: -36°, Madison, WI: -28°, Houghton Lake, MI: -25°, Marquette, MI: -25°, Green Bay, WI: -25°, Rockford, IL: -24°, Grand Rapids, MI: -21° (broke previous record by 18 degrees), Alpena, MI: -18°, Moline, IL: -17°, Toledo, OH: -14°, Rochester, NY: -12°, Fort Wayne, IN: -11°, Akron, OH: -9°, Flint, MI: -8°, Detroit, MI: -7°-Tied, Youngstown, OH: -6° and Pittsburgh, PA: -3-Tied°.

It was a frigid day in Milan, Italy as the morning temperature dropped to 15°. The daytime temperature made it to just 24.4°.


The temperature at the Great Falls, MT International Airport rose from -32° to 17° in just 7 minutes as a Chinook wind warmed the arctic air. This temperature rise stands as the most rapid temperature change ever registered in the United States.

A strong area of low pressure resulted in strong winds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts to 70 mph across Minnesota through the 12th. Blowing and drifting snow made roads hazardous or impassible. The strong winds also caused some damage. There were areas in western Minnesota that had a lot of blowing dirt.


Snow squalls buried Buffalo, NY under 25.3 inches of snow to set a new 24-hour record up until that time. 800 fans were stranded at the Buffalo Municipal Auditorium after a hockey game snowed them in the previous night. Buffalo, NY was buried under 28 inches of snow from snow squalls with 25.3 inches falling in 24 hours to set a new 24 hour record until 1995.

A huge arctic outbreak invaded the Deep South as high pressure was centered over eastern Texas.

The zero degree isotherm was all the way to central Alabama and Georgia. The freezing line was all the way into central Florida. Locations that reported record low temperatures for the date included: Rapid City, SD: -21°, Akron, OH: -9°-Tied, Jackson, KY: -8°, Erie, PA: -8°, Youngstown, OH: -8°, Pittsburgh, PA: -8°, Oak Ridge, TN: -8°, Asheville, NC: -6°, Huntington, WV: -6°, Atlanta, GA: -5°, Lynchburg, VA: -3°, Huntsville, AL: -2°, Atlantic City, NJ: -2°, Newark, NJ: -2°, Birmingham, AL: -1°, Wilmington, DE: -1°, Athens, GA: 0°, Harrisburg, PA: 0°, Roanoke, VA: 0°, Augusta, GA: 1°, Baltimore, MD: 1°, Philadelphia, PA: 1°, Chattanooga, TN: 1°, Washington, D.C.: 2°, Greensville-Spartanburg, SC: 2° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Bridgeport, CT: 2°-Tied, Montgomery, AL: 4°, Macon, GA: 4° (broke previous daily record by 11 degrees), Raleigh, NC: 4°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 4°, Shreveport, LA: 5°, San Angelo, TX: 5°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 5°-Tied, Columbus, GA: 6°, Columbia, SC: 6°, Mobile, AL: 7°, Waco, TX: 7°, Norfolk, VA: 7°, Wallops Island, VA: 7°, Pensacola, FL: 8°, Wilmington, NC: 8°,. Baton Rouge, LA: 10°, Charleston, SC: 10°, Austin, TX: 11°, Savannah, GA: 12°, Cape Hatteras, NC: 12°, Houston, TX: 12°, Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 14°, Victoria, TX: 14°, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 15°, Lake Charles, LA: 15°-Tied, Tallahassee, FL: 15°, Jacksonville, FL: 17°, Corpus Christi, TX: 20°-Tied, Brownsville, TX: 25°, Daytona Beach, FL: 27°, Tampa, FL: 27° and Orlando, FL: 29°.


A storm in the northeastern U.S. buried the mountains of central Vermont with up to 26 inches of snow, and snowfall totals in Maine ranged up to 27 inches at Telos Lake. Winds gusted to 45 mph at Newark, NJ and Albany, NY.


Snow and high winds in Utah resulted in a 50-car pile-up along Interstate 15. Winds in Wyoming gusted to 115 mph at Rendezvous Peak.

A few locations across the East reported record low temperatures for the date including: Hartford, CT: -14°, Williamsport, PA: -8°-Tied, Providence, RI: -5°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: -5°, Harrisburg, PA: -1° and Islip, NY: 1°.


A cold front which the previous day produced 21 inches of snow at Stampede Pass, WA and wind gusts to 75 mph at Mammoth Lakes, CA, spread snow across Colorado. Totals in Colorado ranged up to 17 inches at Steamboat Springs.

Santa Ana winds raked southern California with sustained winds of up to 100 mph. The Pepsi Slice blimp was destroyed by the high winds at the Ontario Airport. Some trucks on I-10 and I-15 were blown over by the winds.


Strong northwesterly winds associated with a deep low pressure system crossing the Upper Great Lakes Region ushered cold air into the central U.S. Winds gusted to 75 mph at Yankton, SD, 72 mph at Fort Dodge, IA, 67 mph at Sioux Falls, SD and 61 mph at Pierre, SD. Across Minnesota winds gusted to 70 mph creating blizzard conditions across northwestern Minnesota. The winds downed signs, blew high profile vehicles off of roads, and whipped up large amounts of blowing dust. Across northwest Iowa several walls were leveled at construction sites, roofs were damaged, and blowing dust reduced visibilities to a few hundred feet at times. In some open farm areas soil erosion was estimated at a devastating two to three tons per acre. Squalls produced heavy snow in parts of Upper Michigan and northern Lower Michigan, with 16 inches reported at Wakefield.

An upper level ridge kept most of the under a warm off shore flow. Locations that reported record highs included: Austin, TX: 85°, Borrego Springs, CA: 85°, Tucson, AZ: 82°-Tied, Bakersfield, CA: 80°, Fresno, CA: 74°, Flagstaff, AZ: 63° and Ely, NV: 60°.


A 3-day winter storm was in progress across the Midwest. Across parts of Indiana and Illinois, trees and power lines suffered extensive damage due to freezing rain. Once the freezing rain changed to snow, 4 to 7 inches of snow fell.


As a strong storm moved from the Rockies and across the Plains, snow piled up across much of South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. A train was derailed near Beresford, SD during the storm spilling 10,000 bushels of grain. Amounts of over 6 inches occurred in southeast South Dakota while portions of northwest Iowa had 8 to 12 inches.


A combination of an ice storm, heavy frost accumulation, and strong winds over a period of several days caused widespread damage to electrical systems resulting in power outages across central and north central South Dakota. The initial ice storm occurred on this day through the 12th. In the days following, widespread fog developed and resulted in heavy additional deposits of ice and frost on power lines and other surfaces. Much of the damage occurred when strong winds, mainly from the 16 through the 18th, caused the heavily weighted power lines and poles to collapse. Power outages lasted as long as 8 days. Several electric cooperatives had never experienced damages of this magnitude. Some traffic accidents resulted from the icing and many vehicles slid off the roads. Property damage was estimate at $3.5 million dollars.


Arctic cold air gripped much of the central United States, with temperatures averaging 30 degrees below normal across the region, and wind chills as low as -81° in parts of North Dakota. 16 foot snowdrifts were reported in South Dakota. At least 31 people died.

A few locations reported record lows for the date including: Havre, MT: -41°, Sheridan, WY: -31° and Billings, MT: -23°.

An emergency was declared in Buffalo, NY as the city experienced its 4th heaviest blizzard. Two feet of snow fell in some areas. Driving was banned for a time so that snowplows could do their jobs without running into stalled cars.


The first major snow in 6 years fell in Jerusalem, Israel putting a festive spirit in the air.


The temperature plunged to 18° at North Myrtle Beach, SC breaking the old record for the day by 7 degrees.


A big storm produced heavy rain and mountain snows across the Sierra Nevada area in California. Farewell Gap, CA recorded 152.5 inches of snow over a 5-day period beginning on the 7th. 123 inches of snow fell at Wet Meadow and 108” at Ostrander Lake, West Woodchuck Meadow and Pascoes, CA. For the 15 day period beginning 12/28/2004 through this date, Reno, NV picked up 81 inches of snow. The storm produced unprecedented rainfall across the lower elevations. Opid's Camp, CA measured 31.25 inches of rain in a 108 hour period. From 12/26/2004 through this date, the site picked up an amazing 51.77 inches of rain.


Widespread flooding developed over much of northern and central Illinois, in response to heavy rainfall of 2 to 4 inches a few days prior, as well as rapid snow melt. Much of Pontiac was under water, with one fatality.


69% of the contiguous U.S. and 49 out of 50 states had snow on the ground. This rose to 71% the next day thanks to an East Coast snowstorm.


A huge upper level trough brought very cold temperatures to parts of California and nearby locations. A rare frost was reported on some of the beaches from San Diego northward to Los Angeles. Locations that reported record lows included: Lodgepole, CA: -3°, Desert Rock, NV: 22°, March AFB, CA: 22°, Redding, CA: 25°, Sacramento, CA: 26°, Cape Pendleton, CA: 29°, San Diego (Miramar NAS), CA: 32°, El Cajon, CA: 33°-Tied, Oxnard, CA: 34° and Yuma, AZ: 40°.


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

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