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Weather History: January 14: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, ice, wind & floods

Meteorological events that happened on January 14th:

One of the more spectacular cold-weather atmospheric optical effects is referred to as an ice-pillar. On cold, calm nights when ice crystal fogs begin to form, or there is an abundance of ice crystals in the air, light from point sources such as street lamps sometimes appear to illuminate a narrow column extending upwards hundreds or thousands of feet above its source.


The greatest snowstorm recorded in American history until this time occurred from Georgia to the northeast and west to the Ohio Valley. Gettysburg, PA reported 30 inches and Pittsburgh, PA recorded 22 inches.


The greatest snowstorm on record for Cincinnati, OH began, and a day later 20 inches of snow covered the ground. That total has remained far above the modern day record for Cincinnati of 11 inches of snow in one storm.


The hills above Los Angeles, CA were whitened by snow as Southern California recorded its greatest snowfall event. San Bernardino received 15 inches. A trace fell in San Diego. Snow totals reached as much as 20 inches on Baja California with snow all the way to the edge of the Mojave Desert.


Many locations from the Rockies to the West Coast reported record low temperatures for the date including: Helena, MT: -38°, Bismarck, ND: -37°, Fargo, ND: -32°, Huron, SD: -32°, Spokane, WA: -28°, Cheyenne, WY: -27°, North Platte, NE: -26°, Winnemucca, NV: -24°, Boise, ID: -22°, Omaha, NE: -21°, Des Moines, IA: -19°, Concordia, KS: -18°, Lincoln, NE: -18°, Dodge City, KS: -14°-Tied, Topeka, KS: -12°, Salt Lake City, UT: -7°, Abilene, TX: -2°, Eureka, CA: 20° and Fresno, CA: 22°.


The luxury liner Lusitania was struck by an 80 foot wave that heavily damaged the ship as it made its way from Liverpool to New York City. The storm that caused the high wave also produced blizzard conditions on the East Coast, including New York City, where 15 inches of snow fell.


The Great Cold Wave of January 1912 a record cold wave settled across the South to the Mid-Atlantic region.

Some of the extremely cold temperatures across the Mid-Atlantic included: Bayard, WV: -30°, Hagerstown, MD: -27°, College Park, MD: -26°, Lincoln, VA: -25°, Dale Enterprises near Harrisonburg, VA: -25°, Frederick, MD: -21°, Culpeper, VA: -20°, Laurel, MD: -19°, Lost City, WV: -14°, Washington, D.C.: -13°, Fredericksburg, VA: -11°, Baltimore, MD: -2°.

Other locations that reported record low temperatures for the date included: Williamsport, PA: -17°, Harrisburg, PA: -14°, Hartford, CT: -12°, Elkins, WV: -12°, Huntington, WV: -12°, Avoca, PA: -10°, Roanoke, VA: -8°, Lynchburg, VA: -7°, Providence, RI: -6°, Dayton, OH: -4°, Tulsa, OK: -3°, Baltimore, MD: -2°, Charleston, WV: -2°, Richmond, VA: -1°, New York (Central Park), NY: 2°, Philadelphia, PA: 2°, Greensboro, NC: 3°, Raleigh, NC: 6°, Charlotte, NC: 7°, Columbia, SC: 10°, Greenville-Spartanburg, SC: 10°, Athens, GA: 15°, Waco, TX: 16° and Austin, TX: 18°.


Locations from the northern Plains to the deep south reported record low temperatures for the date including: Watertown, SD: -38°, Aberdeen, SD: -36°, Grand Forks, ND: -35°, Mobridge, SD: -35°, Timber Lake, SD: -31°, Sioux Falls, SD: -31°, Wheaton, SD: -28°, Waterloo, IA: -26°, Kennebec, SD: -24°, Grand Island, NE: -8°, Kansas City, MO: -7°, Tulsa, OK: -4°, Huntsville, AL: 12° and Birmingham, AL: 16°.

Widespread heavy rains hit Southern California starting on this day and ending on the 21st. 16.71 inches fell in 24 hours near Lake Arrowhead on the 16th and 17th, a record 24 hour rainfall for California until 1943. More than 9 inches fell in two storms in the Coachella Valley. Previous storms had deposited deep snow in the mountains, adding to the runoff. Widespread flooding resulted and at least 22 people died. Roofs in Chula Vista, poultry farm in Vista, boats in Coronado and Newport were damaged. Most cities were completely inundated. Pine trees from Palomar Mountain floated down the San Luis Rey River through Oceanside. The cities of Indio, Coachella and Mecca were underwater.


The home of a 13 member family in Lexington, TN was destroyed by a tornado. 10 fatalities resulted.


Sydney, Australia recorded their hottest day on record as the maximum temperature reaches 113.5°. Their average January high is 78.4° and on average just 3 January days per year have a maximum temperature above 86°. A high of 104° is to be expected on average once every ten years.


An intense line of thunderstorms raced through parts of Oklahoma. Winds up to 75 mph brought widespread damage to roofs and utilities. A funnel cloud was followed for three and a half miles over the western edge of Oklahoma City, while a tornado damaged three farmsteads southeast of Fitzhugh, in Pontotoc County. The winds were not finished however, as an intense low pressure system roared through later in the day. Again, winds of 75 mph blew out plate glass windows in Lawton, Purcell, Yukon, and Oklahoma City.


A deep upper level trough covered most of the country bringing widespread record lows from the West Coast to the Appalachians. Palm Springs, CA plunged to 22°, their second lowest temperature on record.

Other locations that reported record lows included: Alamosa, CO: -27°, Minneapolis, MN: -26°, Madison, WI: -26°, Waterloo, IA: -26°-Tied, Dubuque, IA: -18°, Marquette, MI: -17°, Alpena, MI: -14°, Roswell, NM: -10°, Flagstaff, AZ: -9°, Amarillo, TX: -3°, Beckley, WV: 0°, Lubbock, TX: 3°, Oak Ridge, TN: 6°, Albuquerque, NM: 6°-Tied, Little Rock, AR: 7°, Huntsville, AL: 9°, Tupelo, MS: 9°, Memphis, TN: 10°, El Paso, TX: 10°, Chattanooga, TN: 12°, Birmingham, AL: 13°, Shreveport, LA: 13°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 13°, San Angelo, TX: 13°, Las Vegas, NV: 14°, Meridian, MS: 15°, Dallas, TX: 15°, Columbus, GA: 20°, Phoenix, AZ: 22°, Stockton, CA: 22°, Fresno, CA: 22°-Tied, Sacramento, CA: 24°, Pensacola, FL: 24°, Santa Maria, CA: 25°, Bakersfield, CA: 25°-Tied, San Francisco, CA: 31°, Long Beach, CA: 33°, San Diego, CA: 35° and Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 36°.


The temperature at Loma, MT rose from -54° on this date to +49F on the 15th. The 103 degree change is the greatest ever recorded in the world for a 24 hour period.


After two weeks of very cold temperatures, unseasonably warm temperatures accompanied by Chinook winds and heavy rains, as much as 10 inches over four days resulted in disastrous flooding over northern and central Idaho. The severe flooding was called the worst natural disaster in the history of the state. Mudslides blocked and washed out sections of U.S. 95, Idaho's main north-south highway. Total damage was estimated at $50 million dollars.

On this date through the 18th, Canada recorded their highest 5-day snowfall record as the town of Kitimat in British Columbia was buried under 97 inches.


The Blizzard of 1979 was finally winding down. Chicago, IL received 20.7 inches of snow in 30 hours; their 4th heaviest snow on record. The 29 inch snow cover following the storm set an all-time record for Chicago.

Up to 20 inches of snow fell across northwest Indiana. South Bend reported 17.2 inches, with 35mph winds blowing the snow into 8 foot drifts. Fort Wayne received only one-third of an inch of snow.


A strong cold front sweeping across the Florida Peninsula was accompanied by high winds and brief heavy rains. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph were reported over most of the peninsula with gusts up to 60 mph. Tornadoes were reported in Lee and

Hendry Counties. There was widespread minor damage with downed power lines, large trees toppled, and many signs blown over. Some roof damage was also reported along with damage to patio screens, carports, and tool sheds. Heaviest damage was along the Florida West Coast where onshore winds produced high tides and some beach erosion.

Behind the storm system Canadian high pressure brought record cold from the Plains to the Mississippi Valley. Locations that recorded low temperatures included: St. Cloud, MN: -30°, Shreveport, LA: 5°, Waco, TX: 6°, Memphis, TN: 10°-Tied, Atlanta, GA: 13°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 13°-Tied, Jackson, MS: 15°, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 19°, Corpus Christi, TX: 19°, Houston, TX: 19°, Victoria, TX: 20°, Galveston, TX: 24° and Brownsville, TX: 25°.

Strong Chinook winds buffeted parts of the Colorado Rockies. Wind gusts of 60 to 80 mph were common across the Foothills from Denver to Fort Collins. Lakewood, CO reported a wind gust of 88 mph. Some structural damaged occurred with at least five people injured.


Arctic cold invaded the north central U.S. By evening, blustery northwest winds and temperatures near 0° at Grand Forks, ND were producing wind chill readings of -50°.


A powerful Pacific storm produced rain and high winds across the western U.S. In Nevada, a wind gust to 90 mph at Reno Cannon International Airport was an all-time record for that location, and wind gusts reached 106 mph southwest of Reno. A wind gust to 94 mph was recorded at nearby Windy Hill. Rainfall totals in Oregon ranged up to 6 inches at Wilson River.


A winter storm spread snow and sleet and freezing rain from the Mid-Mississippi Valley to the northeastern U.S. Freezing rain in West Virginia caused 15 traffic accidents in just a few minutes west of Charleston. Parts of Tennessee were deluged with up to 7.5 inches of rain. Two inches of rain near Clarksville, TN left water in the streets as high as car doors.

A few locations across the West reported record low temperatures for the date including: Burns, OR: -4°-Tied, Redding, CA: 26° and Borrego Springs, CA: 32°.


A winter storm in the southwestern U.S. blanketed the mountains of southwest Utah with 18 to 24 inches of snow, while sunshine and strong southerly winds helped temperatures warm into the 60s across the Central Plains Region. Five cities reported record high temperatures for the date, including: North Platte, NE: 63°, Goodland, KS: 63°-Tied, Concordia, KS: 62°, Grand Island, NE: 61° and Lincoln, NE: 60°.

A tornado in the East City Heights neighborhood of San Diego, CA caused property damage. A waterspout turned tornado hit Shelter Island, San Diego and tossed boats.


A low pressure area deepened 18 millibars (0.71 inHg) in only 12 hours and bottomed out at 969 millibars (28.62 inHg) as it tracked from the Tennessee Valley to northern New York state. It produced quite a range of nasty weather. Heavy snow with blizzard conditions prevailed in Ohio and eastern Michigan. Detroit, MI reported thunder and lightning with heavy snow and received a total of 11 inches, their biggest single storm snowfall in nearly 10 years. An unusual severe weather outbreak for the time of the year so far north occurred in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and southeastern New York. Tornadoes touched down at Moosic and Lumberville, PA. Dime size hail fell at Orange, NJ and thunderstorm winds gusted to 87 mph at Gettysburg, PA. Small hail fell at Weather Service Office in Newark, NJ, the first time hail had ever fallen at this location in January. Emmitsburg, MD reported a wind gust of 88 mph.


A deep upper level trough dug from the Plains to the Gulf Coast bringing extreme cold that would prevail for the next week. Mason City, IA plunged to -28°. Locations from the upper Midwest to the Missouri Valley reported dangerous wind chills between -30° and -65° that kept schools closed for several days in some locations. Marquette, MI and Jackson, KY reported record lows of -18° and 5° respectively.


An ice storm occurred across parts of Maryland and northern Virginia. This ice storm hit Montgomery County and western Fairfax County, Virginia the hardest. To the east of Washington, D.C. in Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties, Maryland, the ice damage was not nearly as severe as the eastern counties had warmer temperatures.
In Montgomery Counties alone 1,223 wires were downed and 11 substations were knocked out. The next day about 435,000 local customers throughout the area were without power. A massive arctic high pressure area, with a central pressure of 1048 millibars or 30.95 inHg, was located across eastern Canada early on this date. Temperatures in the Washington area ranged from the upper 20s at Reagan National Airport to the upper teens in the far northern western suburbs. An inch of glaze from freezing rain caused numerous tree limbs and power lines to fall mainly in the northwest suburbs.


A severe storm brought torrential rains to Athens, Greece causing power outages and widespread flooding. At least 10 people died.


Strong winds associated with a frontal system knocked out power to over 12,000 homes on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. A gust to 85 mph was reported along the western Oahu coast, with a report of a rare tornado.

Temperatures plunged to -36.2° at Saguenay, Quebec and -35.1° at Quebec City, Quebec. Hydro-Quebec recorded a new record for power use of 35,137 megawatts. Across the northeastern U.S. Syracuse, NY and Bridgeport, CT reported record lows of -18° and 1° respectively.


Hurricane force winds of up to 85 mph blasted across southwestern Sweden, leaving more than 260,000 households without power. Falling trees killed at least three people. The winds also produced major disruptions in train and boat traffic across Scandinavia.


Temperatures in areas of Alaska see an astounding jump compared with the early days of the month when temperatures registered below -50°. On this date, temperatures went through a dramatic increase. The high in Birch Lake reached 54°, a rise of 106 degrees from their cold reading from the 3rd through the 5th of -52°. The town of Central, AK rose from -56° to 45°, a 101 degree increase and Anchorage, AK saw a modest increase in comparison from -19° to 42°, a rise of 61 degrees.


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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