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Weather History: January 15: Record temps, snow, storms, wind & tropics

Meteorological events that happened on January 15th:


The New York Harbor froze over completely during the famous Hard Winter of 1779-80. It would stay frozen for five weeks. Heavy cannons were transported across the ice.


Between January 15th and February 24th a total of 1,378 railroad cars were drawn by horses across the frozen Susquehanna River to engines waiting at Havre De Grace, MD.


Up to 2 inches of snow whitened the Los Angeles basin of California. The Los Angeles Civic Center reported an inch of snow, and even the beaches of Santa Monica were whitened with snow, in what proved to be a record snowstorm for the Los Angeles area.

18 inches fell at Julian, 17 inches at Mt. Laguna, 14 inches at Cuyamaca, and 6 inches at Descanso, CA.


A six-day snowstorm was in progress across the western U.S. The storm produced 149 inches at Tahoe CA, 52 inches at Sun Valley ID and 44 inches of snow at Marlette Lake, NV, establishing single storm records for each of those three states. In addition, 24-hour snowfall totals of 26 inches at Arco ID and 22 inches at the University of Nevada established records for those two states. The streamliner, 'City of San Francisco' was snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Range, near Donner Summit.

Bishop, CA recorded 3.32 inches of precipitation, which was the second greatest one day total in January and second greatest total ever. A total of 9 inches of snow was also recorded on this day.


A deep upper level trough brought brutally cold temperatures from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. Burlington, VT and Binghamton, NY set their all-time record lows with -30° and -20° respectively. Montreal, Quebec Canada recorded their lowest temperature on record as they dropped to -36°.

Worcester, MA set their all-time January record low with -19°.

Locations reporting daily record lows included: Caribou, ME: -28°, Syracuse, NY: -24°, Albany, NY: -20°, Casper, WY: -20°, Portland, ME: -18°, Rochester, NY: -16°, Hartford, CT: -15°, Boston, MA: -12°, Buffalo, NY: -12°, Avoca, PA: -10°, Providence, RI: -9°, Bridgeport, CT: -5°, Newark, NJ: 0°, New York (Central Park), NY: 0°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 0° and Philadelphia, PA: 5°.

West Palm Beach, FL set a record high with 84°.


Four hurricane reconnaissance planes have been lost since the program began in the mid 1940s, three in the Pacific and one in the Atlantic. On this date, a WB-50 from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron on Guam was lost during Super-Typhoon Orphelia southwest of Guam.


A nor'easter battered the Mid Atlantic region. 78 miles east of Barnegat, NJ, waves exceeding 35 feet and winds of 85 mph destroyed the Air Force radar Texas Tower 4, killing all of the 14 airmen and 14 civilian workers. The 3-legged tower was nicknamed Texas tower because it resembled the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Tower 4 had previously been damaged by hurricanes Donna in 1960 and Daisy in 1958.


On this date through the 16th, a major windstorm struck parts of the Colorado Rockies. The storm was described, at the time, as the worst single windstorm in the history of Boulder in terms of damage. Winds at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and at Boulder reached 125 mph. Downtown Boulder reported a top wind gust of 84 mph. Damage totaled a half million dollars in Boulder where some minor injuries were reported. At the Boulder Municipal Airport, 14 light airplanes were severely damaged. Widespread structural and automobile damage was reported. Strong winds occurred at Denver and Golden but luckily damage was only minor.


A powerful storm, possibly tornadic struck the Ayrshire coast and moved up the Clyde valley in England. Wind gusts exceeding 100 mph caused substantial damage to roofs. Nine people died and over 1,500 people were left homeless.


Intense Arctic high pressure dominated across the Midwest. Peoria, IL reported a barometric pressure of 30.98 inHg on this date, setting a record for the month of January.

Muskegon, MI fell to a record low of -12°. The temperature only rises to -4°, their coldest high temperature on record for the month of January. It is also the coldest high temperature for January at Grand Rapids, MI where the high was just -3°.

Other locations that reported daily record lows included: International Falls, MN: -45°, Duluth, MN: -39°, Aberdeen, SD: -35°, Watertown, SD: -35°, Sioux Falls, SD: -32°, Timber Lake, SD: -32°, St. Cloud, MN: -31°, Mobridge, SD: -30°, Sisseton, SD: -29°, Green Bay, WI: -28°, Pierre, SD: -27°, Dubuque, IA: -22°, Marquette, MI: -19°, Sioux City, IA: -18°, Fort Wayne, IN: -18°, Indianapolis, IN: -17°, Lansing, MI: -17°, Grand Rapids, MI: -15°, Pueblo, CO: -13°, Detroit, MI: -12°, Dayton, OH: -12°, Toledo, OH: -12°, Akron, OH: -11°, Cincinnati, OH: -11°-Tied, Columbia, MO: -10°, Kansas City, MO: -9°, Youngstown, OH: -8°, Beckley, WV: -8°, Denver, CO: -7°, Cleveland, OH: -7°, Pittsburgh, PA: -7°, Evansville, IN: -6°, Huntington, WV: -4°, Paducah, KY: -1°, Charleston, WV: -1°, Nashville, TN: 2°, Roanoke, VA: 4°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 6°, Lynchburg, VA: 6°, Wichita Falls, TX: 7°, San Angelo, TX: 12°, Dallas, TX: 15° and Lake Charles, LA: 28°-Tied.

Vero Beach, FL set a record high with 85°.


A zonal flow kept the jet stream across the northern tier while high pressure brought record high temperatures from parts of the Rockies to the West and parts of the South. Record warmest January temperature tied at Sheridan, WY tied their January high temperature record with 70° (1/9/53). This also broke their previous daily record high by 12 degrees) Just 4 days prior their high temp was -3°

Locations that reported record high temperatures included: Bakersfield, CA: 79°, Mobile, AL: 78°, San Angelo, TX: 77°-Tied, Pensacola, FL: 76°, Fresno, CA: 75°, San Francisco, CA: 69°, Colorado Springs, CO: 68°, Pendleton, OR: 68°, Stockton, CA: 65°, Winnemucca, NV: 65°, Rapid City, SD: 61°, Lander, WY: 60°, Billings, MT: 59°, Helena, MT: 58°, Medford, OR: 58°, Olympia, WA: 58°, Seattle, WA: 58°, Yakima, WA: 58°-Tied, Boise, ID: 56°-Tied, Pierre, SD: 54°, Pocatello, ID: 52°, Burns, OR: 51° and Missoula, MT: 50°.


On this date through the 16th, the Northern Plains were struck with a severe ground blizzard for the second straight weekend. As with the previous storm only a few inches of new snow fell but northwest winds 45 mph gusting to 60 mph caused widespread blowing snow reducing visibilities to near zero. Drifts as high as 10 feet were reported in northern Iowa. Extreme wind chills of -50° to -100° made any trip outdoors dangerous. Numerous deaths resulted for the second weekend in a row due to the extreme cold.


Arctic high pressure centered over the Great Lakes brought record cold to parts of the Lakes while another center of cold high pressure brought a few record lows to parts of the West. Temperatures were below zero for eight straight days at Lansing, MI between the 14th and the 21st.

Locations that reported record lows included: Houghton Lake, MI: -25°, Lansing, MI: -25°, Ste. St. Marie, MI: -24°, Colorado Spring, CO: -14°, Pueblo, CO: -13°-Tied, Erie, PA: -6°, Olympia, WA: 16° and Quillayute, WA: 19°.


Heavy snow fell in central and south central South Dakota from the early evening hours to midday on the 16th with areas around Pierre receiving up to 18 inches. Generally 5 to 10 inches fell with numerous minor traffic accidents reported. Interstate 90 had a no travel advisory on a 95-mile stretch from Kimball to Murdo until the afternoon of the 16th due to low visibility and heavy drifting. Also, many schools and businesses were closed. Some snowfall amounts included, 10 inches, 6 inches at Murdo and 4 inches at Kennebec.


A powerful storm over the Southern Plateau and the Southern Rockies produced 24 inches of snow at Colorado Springs, CO, including 22 inches in 24 hours, a January record. Accumulations varied markedly across Colorado. The former Stapleton Airport in Denver reported 10.3 inches and other amounts ranged from 3 inches in southeast Aurora to 18 inches in the western and southwestern suburbs. Only an inch of snow was measured at Castle Rock. Parts of New Mexico recorded as much 4 feet of snow. The storm lasted until the 18th and several counties were declared disaster areas. Travel in Albuquerque, NM was brought to a standstill from blizzard conditions.

Snow flurries were observed at Bakersfield, CA during the late morning hours for about 30 minutes and briefly at Lamont briefly in the early afternoon.

High winds in the southwestern U.S. gusted to 65 mph in the Yosemite Valley of California.


A small storm over the Atlantic Ocean produced heavy snow along the coast of North Carolina. The 5 inch total at Wilmington, NC was their 3rd highest total for any storm in January in 117 years of records.

Some locations across the East experienced record cold. Islip, NY tied their all-time record low of -7°.

Locations that reported daily record lows included: Concord, NH: -19°, Atlantic City, NJ: 0°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 4°, Wallops Island, VA: 12° and Wilmington, NC: 18°.


Fargo, ND recorded their snowiest January on record and the most snowfall for any one month during a winter season with two weeks remaining in the month. To date, 30.7 inches of snow had fallen, bringing the season total to 57.2 inches. The previous record for most snow within a month occurred back in 1896, when 30.4 inches fell.

South of a warm front, a few locations across the Southeast reported record highs for the date including: Orlando, FL: 84°, Jacksonville, FL: 83°, Tampa, FL: 82°, Savannah, GA: 80°-Tied and Charleston, SC: 77°-Tied.


While one Pacific storm crossed the Central Rockies, another approached the west coast. The northern mountains of Utah were buried under 17 to 35 inches of snow while the mountains of southern Utah received another 12 to 16 inches. The storm approaching the coast produced heavy snow across the Prince Williams Sound area and the Susitna Valley of southern Alaska burying Valdez under 64.9 inches of snow in less than two days, including a record 47.5 inches in 24 hours. The heavy snow blocks roads, closes schools, and sunk half a dozen vessels in the harbor.

Out ahead of these storms, at least 13 cities across the central U.S. reported record high temperatures for the date including: Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 78°-Tied, Fort Smith, AR: 72°, Tulsa, OK: 69°-Tied, Wichita, KS: 68°, Topeka, KS: 64°, Lincoln, NE: 62°, Jackson, KY: 58°, Omaha, NE: 57°, Moline, IL: 56°-Tied, Des Moines, IA: 55°, Waterloo, IA: 55°, Sisseton, SD: 47°, Minneapolis, MN: 43° and Marquette, MI: 42°-Tied.


An Alberta Clipper left up to 4 inches of snow across parts of Illinois. This combined with 40 to 50 mph winds caused whiteout conditions across central Illinois in the storm's wake. Hundreds of vehicles ended up in ditches; parts of I-39, I-55, I-57 and I-74 were closed. Wind chills as low as -50° were recorded.


Fairbanks, AK measured 47 inches of snow on the ground, their deepest snow cover ever recorded.

Miami, FL tied their high for the date with 83°.


Dense fog blanketed the central and southern San Joaquin Valley in California. A pair of chain-reaction accidents near Selma involved 48 vehicles, resulting in two fatalities and injuring 32 others. Another chain-reaction accident, near Merced, involved 19 vehicles, injuring 8 people.


A strong southerly flow ahead of a storm across the Southeast brought record highs from the Mid-Atlantic while a few locations across the Rockies set record highs ahead of a cold front. Caribou, ME established their all-time January high temperature of 53°. Just 4 days earlier they set a record low with -33°.

Locations that reported record highs for the date included: Roswell, NM: 78°, Cape Hatteras, NC: 71°, Rochester, NY: 68°, Syracuse, NY: 68°, Allentown, PA: 68°, Buffalo, NY: 67°, Providence, RI: 67°, Burlington, VT: 66° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Boston, MA: 66°, Islip, NY: 66° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Atlantic City, NJ: 66°, Albany, NY: 65°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 65°, Milton, MA: 64°, Hartford, CT: 63°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 62°, Wallops Island, VA: 62°, Bridgeport, CT: 61°, Binghamton, NY: 59°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 58° and Casper, WY: 52°.

Williston, ND recorded its greatest 24-hour snowfall as 12.6 inches fell.


Heavy rains finally brought Australia's worst bushfire crisis in 8 years to an end, dousing the remaining fires that had been burning near Sydney since Christmas Day. Over 1.25 million acres burned during the fires, many of which were started by arsonists.


Though it did rain in the Greater Vancouver area British Columbia Canada, the official weather station at the airport recorded no measurable precipitation, ending a 27 day string of wet days, one day short of the all-time record for consecutive rainy days.


A deep digging upper level trough kept conditions unsettles and cold from the Rockies to the West Coast while upper level high pressure off the Southeast Coast brought record highs to parts of the East.

Across southern California cold morning lows included: Fawnskin: -7°, Big Bear Lake: -2°, Wrightwood: -2°. Hesperia: 5°, Mt. Laguna: 6°, Borrego Airport: 10°, Campo: 12°, Ramona: 16°, Thermal: 18°, Hemet: 19° and Camp Pendleton: 20°. Crop damage totaled $114.7 million dollars in San Diego County, $86 million dollars in Riverside County and $11.1 million dollars in San Bernardino County. $600 thousand damage resulted from broken pipes in San Bernardino County. All 3 counties were declared disaster areas.

Locations that reported record lows for the date included: Pueblo, CO: -14°, Grand Junction, CO: -8°-Tied, Goodland, KS: -6°, Olympia, WA: 15°, Tucson, AZ: 20°, Stockton, CA: 20°, Sacramento, CA: 21°, Santa Maria, CA: 25°, Redding, CA: 26°-Tied, Long Beach, CA: 31° and Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 35°-Tied.

Locations across the South and East that reported record high temperatures for the date included: Charleston, SC: 79°, Atlanta, GA: 73°, Wallops Island, VA: 70°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 68°, Atlantic City, NJ: 66°-Tied and Jackson, KY: 64°.


Depot Mountain, ME dropped to a low temperature of -38° and Fort Kent fell to -32°.


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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