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Weather History: January 12: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, snow & tropics

Meteorological events that happened on January 12th:


A cold winter storm that started on this day and ended on the 14th brought lots of snow to the lowlands across southern California. 15 inches of snow fell at San Bernardino. Three feet of snow fell at Campo over four days. 2 to 5 inches fell in outlying San Diego, including 4 inches along Poway Grade, 3 inches at El Cajon and one inch at Poway. Light snow fell at Del Mar. Snow flakes fell, but did not stick at San Diego Lindbergh Field. Birds and livestock were killed and telegraph lines were knocked down. 2.49 inches of precipitation fell in San Diego on this day, the tenth wettest calendar day on record and the second wettest January day. This day was also remarkable in that low temperature records were set for both the minimum and maximum temperatures of 50° and 34° respectively. Yuma, AZ reported a record low of 27°.


Record cold prevailed from the upper Midwest to the East Coast. Key West, FL tied their all-time record low with 41°. Locations that reported daily record lows for the date included: Burlington, VT: -20°, Milwaukee, WI: -12°, Cincinnati, OH: -10°, Boston, MA: -10°, Cleveland, OH: -9°, Nashville, TN: -8°, Pittsburgh, PA: -5°, Knoxville, TN: -5°, Charlotte, NC: -1°, Atlanta, GA: 2°, Washington, D.C.: 3°, Baltimore, MD: 4°, Philadelphia, PA: 4°, Athens, GA: 5°, Augusta, GA: 6°, Norfolk, VA: 11°, Savannah, GA: 12°, Wilmington, NC: 12°, Montgomery, AL: 13° and Galveston, TX: 21°.


The “Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888” aka the Children's Blizzard struck without warning from the Dakotas to Texas. Thousands of children were stranded in one room schoolhouses. The storm arrived on a warm, spring-like morning, catching many people off guard. As many as 500 people were killed, including many school children trapped in the storm on their way home from isolated prairie schools in South Dakota and Minnesota.. Subzero temperatures and mountainous snow drifts killed tens of thousands of cattle.


A tornado touched down at St. Louis, MO and crossed the Mississippi River, ending just south of Venice. The worst damage from this tornado occurred in St. Louis. Further east and northeast, one tornado in McLean County passed through downtown Cooksville, damaging at least a dozen buildings, while a tornado in Richland County destroyed four homes northeast of Olney. In all, over 100 homes and other buildings were unroofed or damaged. The tornado caused 4 deaths and 15 injuries.


The thermometer at Rapid City, SD read 49° at 6am. Two hours later, the temperature had plunged to -13°, setting a record for a 2-hour temperature drop in the United States.


A strong area of arctic high pressure brought extreme cold to the plains & Upper Midwest. The morning low of -47° at Washta, IA established a state record. The record would be tied on 2/3/1996 at Elkrader. Other locations that reported all-time record lows included: Aberdeen, SD: -46°-Tied, Timber Lake, SD: -46°, Huron, SD: -43°, Norfolk, NE: -39°, Sioux City, IA: -35°, and Winona, MN: -35°. Locations that reported January record lows: Williston, ND: -42°-Tied, Sioux Falls, SD: -38°, Grand Meadow, MN: - 38°, Mauston, WI: -37°, Charles City, IA: -34°, New Hampton, IA: -34°, Grand Island, NE: -29° and Muskegon, MI: -21°.

Locations that reported daily record lows: St. Cloud, MN: -40°, Rochester, MN: -39°, Fargo, ND: -38°, Grand Forks, ND: -37°, Duluth, MN: -34°, La Crosse, WI: -34°, Waterloo, IA: -32°, Minneapolis, MN: -31°, Ste. St. Marie, MI: -30°, Des Moines, IA: -29°, Omaha, NE: -27°, Valentine, NE: -27°, Dubuque, IA: -26°, Lincoln, NE: -26°, Green Bay, WI: -25°, Madison, WI: -25°, Scottsbluff, NE: -24°, Moline, IL: -21°, Concordia, KS: -21°, Rockford, IL: -20°, Goodland, KS: -20°, Kansas City, MO: -20°, Topeka, KS: -19°, Columbia, MO: -19°, Dodge City, KS: -18°, Peoria, IL: -16°, Wichita, KS: -15°, Milwaukee, WI: -14°, Lansing, MI: -14°, Springfield, MO: -14°, Grand Rapids, MI: -9°, St. Louis, MO: -9°, Amarillo, TX: -8°, Oklahoma City, OK: -7°, Tulsa, OK: -6°, Avoca, PA: -4°, Fort Smith, AR: 0°, Harrisburg, PA: 1°, Dallas (DFW), TX: 1°, Abilene, TX: 2°, Waco, TX: 3°, Little Rock, AR: 5°, Memphis, TN: 6°, Austin, TX: 13°, Houston, TX: 15°, Victoria, TX: 18°, Galveston, TX: 20° and Corpus Christi, TX: 23°.


Glasgow, MT recorded the coldest maximum temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 of -44°. This followed their all-time record low of -56.

Other locations across the West that reported daily record lows included: Havre, MT: -49°, Bismarck, ND: -40°, Grand Forks, ND: -39°, Great Falls, MT: -35°, Valentine, NE: -29°, Kalispell, MT: -21°, Missoula, MT: -19°, Flagstaff, AZ: -16° and Clayton, NM: -7°.


Many locations from the Plains to the Ohio Valley and Southeast reported record arctic cold.

Fort Wayne, IN set their all-time record low with -24° and Bloomington, IL reported their all-time record low of -23°, which was tied 1/20/1985. Memphis, TN tied their January record low with -8°.

Locations that reported daily record lows included: Peoria, IL: -21°, Springfield, IL: -20°, Indianapolis, IN: -19°, South Bend, IN: -19°, Springfield, MO: -19°, Columbia, MO: -19°-Tied, Lansing, MI: -17°, St. Louis, MO: -17°, Colorado Springs, CO: -16°, Evansville, IN: -16°, Detroit, MI: -16°, Cincinnati, OH: -16°, Dayton, OH: -16°, Mansfield, OH: -15°, Toledo, OH: -15°, Louisville, KY: -15°, Chicago, IL: -14°, Lexington, KY: -14°, Grand Rapids, MI: -14°, Columbus, OH: -13°, Tulsa, OK: -13°, Fort Smith, AR: -11°, Nashville, TN: -10°, Lubbock, TX: -10°, Cleveland, OH: -9°-Tied, Little Rock, AR: -8°, Erie, PA: -8°, Huntsville, AL: -7°, Beckley, WV: -7°, Akron, OH: -7°-Tied, Pittsburgh, PA: -5°-Tied, Asheville, NC: -1°, Roswell, NM: 0°, Birmingham, AL: 1°, Dallas, TX: 3°, Jackson, MS: 5°, Meridian, MS: 7°, Greenville-Spartanburg, SC: 8°, Austin, TX: 8°, Baton Rouge, LA: 11°, Houston, TX: 11°, Montgomery, AL: 12°, San Antonio, TX: 12°, Victoria, TX: 14°, Columbia, SC: 15°, Del Rio, TX: 15°, Mobile, AL: 17°, Galveston, TX: 17°, Pensacola, FL: 18°, Corpus Christi, TX: 20° and Brownsville, TX: 26°.


Adelaide, Australia recorded their hottest day on record as their temperature peaked at 115°.


An impressive cold wave gripped the Lower Mississippi Valley in to the Southwest. Locations that reported record lows for the date included: Roswell, NM: -10°, Jackson, MS: -1°, Meridian, MS: 0°, Tupelo, MS: 0°, El Paso, TX: 0°, Charleston, WV: 0°, Paducah, KY: 3°, Shreveport, LA: 3°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 7°, Mobile, AL: 10°, San Antonio, TX: 10°, San Angelo, TX: 11°, Baton Rouge, LA: 11°-Tied, Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 12°, Pensacola, FL: 13°, Del Rio, TX: 13°, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 14°, Corpus Christi, TX: 14°, Lake Charles, LA: 16°, New Orleans, LA: 17°, Las Vegas, NV: 17°, Brownsville, TX: 19° and Phoenix, AZ: 22°.


A snowstorm blanketed the upper Midwest under 6 to 12 inches of snow. Behind the storm, bitterly cold air invaded areas from the southern Plains, Rockies to the West Coast. Wind chill readings easily fell under -40° in some areas. Laramie, WY plummeted to -50°, their all-time coldest reading on record. Denver, CO tied their all-time record low with -25°.

Locations that reported daily record lows included: Lander, WY: -37°, Alamosa, CO: -37°, Pueblo, CO: -26°, Elko, NV: -26°, Ely, NV: -25°, Casper, WY: -25°, Winnemucca, NV: -24°, Sheridan, WY: -24°, Missoula, MT: -23°, Pocatello, ID: -22°, Colorado Springs, CO: -21°, Grand Junction, CO: -21°, Flagstaff, AZ: -20°, Billings, MT: -18°, Salt Lake City, UT: -18°, Clayton, NM: -17°, Boise City, OK: -17°, Burns, OR: -11°, Roswell, NM: -10°-Tied, Amarillo, TX: -9°, Winslow, AZ: -7°, Boise, ID: -7°, Albuquerque, NM: -1°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 5°, Olympia, WA: 5°, Wichita Falls, TX: 7°, Medford, OR: 8°, San Angelo, TX: 8°, Portland, OR: 13°, Seattle, WA: 13°, Las Vegas, NV: 14°, Stockton, CA: 24°, Santa Maria, CA: 25° and San Francisco Airport, CA: 32°.


Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms associated with a vigorous squall line struck Duval, Marion, Polk, Volusia, Lake Counties in central Florida. Many trees were uprooted and antennas and signs blown down. Some damage occurred to windows and commercial buildings. No serious injuries were reported.


La Crosse, WI received 3.5 inches of snow. This was the latest in a winter that La Crosse had gone without having a one inch or greater snowfall. Many locations across the East reported record low temperatures for the date including: Albany, NY: -26°, Burlington, VT: -23°, Portland, ME: -18°, Concord, NH: -16°, Syracuse, NY: -16°, Binghamton, NY: -13°, Buffalo, NY: -11°, Hartford, CT: -11°, Rochester, NY: -11°, Williamsport, PA: -11°, Avoca, PA: -10°, Allentown, PA: -6°, Providence, RI: -3°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: -2°, Worcester, MA: -2°-Tied, Atlantic City, NJ: 0°, Wilmington, DE: 2°, New York (Central Park), NY: 2°, Bridgeport, CT: 3°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 3°, Baltimore, MD: 3°, Newark, NJ: 3°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 4° and Wallops Island, VA: 10°.


Scottsbluff, NE recorded a low of -16°. It was the last of 15 consecutive days with a low temperature below zero, equaling the previous longest streak with lows below zero set on 1/30 - 2/13/1899.

A few locations reported record cold across the Plains. Lincoln, NE set their all-time record low with -33. Other locations that reported daily record lows included: Bismarck, ND: -42°, Moljne, IL: -26°, Rockford, IL: -21°, Topeka, KS: -20° and Rapid City, SD: -14°-Tied.


Beginning on the 10th through this date, one of the worst blizzards on record had a strangle hold on the central and Northern Plains. The blizzard affected all of eastern South Dakota, North Dakota, Eastern Nebraska, northwest Iowa, and Minnesota and is often referred to as the "Blizzard of the Century" because of the duration, sustained high winds, and extreme cold.

Snow amounts of 6 inches to well over a foot accumulated and was blown into huge drifts. Sustained winds approached 45 mph with gusts over 60 mph. The temperatures were near 30°at the start of the storm, but had fallen to -5° to -10° by the morning of the 11th. Wind chill temperatures were from -50° to -70°. In some areas visibilities were reduced to under a quarter of a mile for over 24 hours, creating white-out conditions. A broadcast tower nearly 2,000 thousand feet tall collapsed during the storm with an estimated damage at $1.5 million dollars. 10,000 to 15,000 head of cattle were lost in South Dakota alone.


A bitter cold arctic air mass was in place across the East. Chester recorded Massachusetts’ coldest temperature ever as the temperature dropped to -35°.

Locations that reported daily record lows included: Concord, NH: -21°, Syracuse, NY: -18°, Rochester, NY: -15°, Hartford, CT: -14°, Williamsport, PA: -12°, Avoca, PA: -10°-Tied, Worcester, MA: -8°, Providence, RI: -8°, Youngstown, OH: -7°, Milton, MA: -6°, Atlantic City, NJ: -5°, Pittsburgh, PA: -5°-Tied, Harrisburg, PA: -4°, Bridgeport, CT: -3°, Wilmington, DE: -3°, Newark, NJ: -1°, Baltimore, MD: 1°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 1°, Philadelphia, PA: 1°, Jackson, KY: 2°, Greensboro, NC: 2°, New York (Central Park), NY: 2°-Tied, Oak Ridge, TN: 3°, Lynchburg, VA: 4°, Roanoke, VA: 5°, Raleigh, NC: 6°, Wallops Island, VA: 7°, Chattanooga, TN: 8°, Columbia, SC: 11°, Wilmington, NC: 12°-Tied, Charleston, SC: 15°, Columbus, GA: 16°, Tallahassee, FL: 17°, Macon, GA: 17°, Cape Hatteras, NC: 17°, Orlando, FL: 24°, Daytona Beach, FL: 28°, Tampa, FL: 29°, Vero Beach, FL: 31° and Miami, FL: 37°.


Birmingham, AL experienced one of its worst ice storms of the twentieth century as snow swept into Central Alabama around midday. The snow and ice arrived about eight hours earlier than anticipated in the Birmingham area turning roads in skating rinks. Thousands of motorists had to abandon their vehicles on roads and hike home or spend the night in shelters. Atlanta, GA was also hard-hit by the ice storm.

An Arctic air mass continued its invasion across the East bringing many record lows for the date including: Syracuse, NY: -25°, Rochester, NY: -15°-Tied, Worcester, MA: -8°-Tied, Lynchburg, VA: 3°, Tallahassee, FL: 14°, Columbus, GA: 16°-Tied, Macon, GA: 17°-Tied, Daytona Beach, FL: 22°, Orlando, FL: 23°, Tampa, FL: 24°, Vero Beach, FL: 25°, Fort Myers, FL: 29°, West Palm Beach, FL: 29° and Miami, FL: 33°.


The "Snowstorm of the Century" blasted southern Texas. San Antonio recorded more snow in a 24 hour period, 9 inches, than was received during any entire winter in he past 100 years. The palm trees were blanked with a total storm total of 13.5 inches. Del Rio measured 5.5 inches which was also their most snow ever in 24 hours as well as for any season.

Potent north to northeast winds blew across the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Wind gusts reached 80 mph near the crest and numerous trees were blown down in Yosemite National Park.


Many cities across the Upper Midwest reported new record high temperatures for the date. Afternoon highs of 76° at Rapid City, SD and 72° at Valentine, NE and set monthly records. Other record highs included: Kennebec, SD: 67°, Pierre, SD: 64°, Timber Lake, SD: 64°, Sisseton, SD: 61°, Aberdeen, SD: 58°, Wheaton, SD: 58°, Mobridge, SD: 57° and Watertown, SD: 49°.

A strong winter storm brought heavy snow and strong winds to New Brunswick, Canada, burying Moncton with 20.5 inches of snow.

The temperature plunged to -43.2° at La Brévine, Switzerland establishing the countries coldest night on record.

Waves of 6 to 9 feet with sets up to 12 feet hit the coast. One suspected drowning occurred and an 11 foot boat was swamped at Channel Islands Harbor.


Parts of North Dakota finally got their first snow of the winter season, and it came with a fury as a blizzard raged across the north central U.S. Snowfall totals ranged up to 14 inches at Fargo, ND, winds gusted to 65 mph at Windom, MN. Wind chill readings in parts of North Dakota fell to -60°.


Gale force winds produced squalls with heavy snow in the Great Lakes Region. Totals in northwest Pennsylvania ranged up to 11 inches at Conneautville and Meadville. Barnes Corners, in western New York State, was buried under 27 inches of snow in two days.


33 sailors died in a cargo ship which sunk during a major Atlantic storm southeast of Newfoundland.


A storm system moved across the Rockies and into the Plains through the 13th. Snow and heavy snow fell over the northwestern three-quarters of Iowa. Snowfall amounts generally ranged from 5 to 8 inches with local amounts over 10 inches. One area of heavy snowfall was in a 60-mile wide band extending from Storm Lake to Lake Mills where 8 to 12 inches was common. Many schools were forced to close, but due to the lack of winds, major travel disruption did not occur. Snowfall totals included: Austin, MN: 10 inches, Elgin, MN: 9.8 inches, Rochester, MN: 8.4 inches, Oelwein, IA: 7 inches, Decorah, IA: 6 inches and Dodge, WI: 6 inches.


The fourth and final in a series of snowstorms to strike the East Coast in only 10 days dumped 30 to 36 inches of snow at Oakland, PA, 26 inches at Franklin, NY, and 25 inches at Montrose, PA. Another 4 to 6 inches fell in the Baltimore-Washington area. The 10.8 inches at Harrisburg, PA raised their monthly snowfall to 38.8 inches, the city's snowiest month ever. After this snowfall, many places had over 40 inches of snow on the ground, including Grafton, NH with 50 inches, Danville, PA with 49 inches, Jaffery, NH with 46 inches, and West Granville, MA with 43 inches. Oddly enough, this deep snow cover would be completely eradicated in most areas over the next two weeks from warm temperatures and heavy rains, setting the stage for major flooding.


A 4-day lake effect snow event from Lake Ontario was in full swing over the Tug Hill Plateau region of New York. Montague was buried under 77 inches of snow in 24 hours and 86 inches in 48 hours. Both North Osceola and Redfield recorded 90 inches of snow for this same event.

A few locations across the northern Rockies reported record cold. Billings, MT tied their January record low with -30. Locations that reported daily record lows included: Sheridan, WY: -35°, Helena, MT: -33° and Rapid City, SD: -16°.

A storm that started on this day and ended on the 13th gave the California coastal areas and valleys one to three inches of rainfall. Snow continued in the mountains and 18 inches of snow had fallen at Mt. Laguna by the 15th. Generally 18 to 36 inches of snow was reported above 2,500 feet. The ski resort at Snow Valley remained open until May 18th, the latest in their 78 year history. Dime size hail up to one foot deep covered a small area in Buena Park and Cypress. 13 people died from exposure near Pine Valley. A waterspout was reported two miles southwest of Lindbergh Field in San Diego and came ashore as a tornado at Shelter Island, causing damage to the resort.


Downslope winds gusted to 70 mph blasted across central Montana. A 12 vehicle accident from near zero visibility and blowing dust killed two people and hurt four others southeast of Great Falls. Near East Glacier, 20 cars and 24 box cars of a train were blown off the tracks by winds of 80 mph.


Dense fog blanketed Lower Michigan. Numerous highway accidents near Lansing killed two people and damaged almost 200 vehicles. At least 37 people were injured. One pileup involved 50 vehicles and forced the closure of 12 miles of Interstate 96 between Okemos and Webberville


A major ice storm which lasted through the 14th left over 200,000 residents across southwestern Missouri without power and a landscape resembling a war zone. While the region was still coping with the damage from the November 30 - December 1, 2006 ice storm. This was the worst ice storm since the December 1987 Ice Storm, in terms of power outages. Officially at the National Weather Service office in Springfield reported one and a half inches of ice accumulation. 14 other counties along the I-44 corridor also reported at least an inch of ice. Communities across southeast Kansas into western Missouri also received 1 to 5 inches of a snow and sleet mixture.

Three inches of snow fell in Yucaipa, CA. One inch fell in Highland and Redlands. Trace amounts of snow fell as low as 500 feet in elevation across the Inland Empire.


A huge upper level trough brought record low temperatures for a second straight morning, this time to more widespread areas across the western U.S. Scattered frost once again dusted some of the beaches across southern California. Locations that reported record lows for the date included: Stanley, ID: -32°, Lund, NV: -18°, Sunset Crater, NM: -14°, Burns, OR: -14°, South Lake Tahoe, CA: -12°, Gallup, NM: -12°-Tied, Lodgepole, CA: -4°, Show Low, AZ: 0°, Tonopah, NV: 3°, Farmington, NM: 3°, Gila Bend, AZ: 25°-Tied, Redding, CA: 25°, Alpine, CA: 30°-Tied, Borrego, CA: 33°.


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