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Weather History: January 16: Record temps, snow, storms, ice, wind & flooding

Meteorological events that happened on January 16th:


A great snowstorm affected areas from Georgia to Maine. Accumulations exceeded 10 inches from the Ohio Valley across much of the Atlantic coast north of Georgia. Washington, DC reported 13 inches with 18 inches at Baltimore, Maryland, 18 to 36 inches near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 15 to 20 inches at New York City, and 20 to 30 inches over southern New England.


The hottest temperature ever reported in Australia occurred as Cloncurry in Queensland hit 128°.


San Francisco, CA was affected by a tremendous Pacific storm that caused extensive wind damage throughout central California.


A rare snow event featuring thunder and lightning raged with 10 inches of snow at Vancouver, British Columbia Canada.

The temperature in New Delhi, India dropped to a cold 31°.


The Netherlands recorded its hottest January day on record when highs reach 63° in Maastricht.


Bennet’s Bridge, NY received 51 inches of snow in just 16 hours from a lake effect snowstorm generated as cold air swept across the relatively warm waters of Lake Ontario.


Fort Worth, TX received 7.5 inches of snow, and Dallas, TX reported a foot of snow.


In Minnesota, a fast moving blizzard brought winds in excess of 75 mph. The snowfall was light to moderate with extensive blowing and drifting snow. Visibility was near zero for an extended period of time. Temperatures fell rapidly during the storm and by the morning of the 18th, many record lows were set. Many vehicles went into the ditch. Thousands of motorists and school children found shelter wherever they could as travel came to a standstill. In South Dakota, rain followed by a sudden drop in temperatures of nearly 30 degrees in two hours resulted in widespread freezing rain and significant icing on roads and trees. Strong winds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts to 75 mph along with the ice halted most travel. The wind and icing also caused the toppling of a 270 foot radio tower near Aberdeen.


The arctic air holds on for one more morning of record lows as Grand Rapids falls to 16 below zero and Muskegon tumbles to 11 below


Record heat occurred across parts of the West. Santa Ana, CA recorded their highest January temperature with 92°. Other record highs included: Palm Springs, CA: 88°, Riverside, CA: 87°, San Diego, CA: 86° and Borrego Springs, CA: 83°.


Arctic air settled into the Plains with wind chills down below -45° in places and many record low temperatures set including: Fargo, ND: -35°, Wheaton, SD: -30°, Sisseton, SD: -27°, Kennebec, SD: -26°, Watertown, SD: -26°, Pierre, SD: -23°, Omaha, NE: -21°, Chicago, IL: -19°, St. Louis, MO: -14°, Kansas City, MO: -13° and Springfield, MO: -11°.


A second severe arctic outbreak affected the Central U.S. Arctic high pressure dominated from British Columbia, Canada to lower Mississippi Valley, was centered across the central Plains at 1036 millibars or 30.59 inHg. The 0 degree line went into Texas with the mercury dropping from 55° to -1° at Amarillo, TX and from 62° to 10° at Oklahoma City, OK.


A winter storm produced a total of 61 inches of snow at Rye, CO, and wind gusts to 100 mph in parts of Utah. The storm then spread heavy snow from the Texas panhandle to Indiana. Tulia, TX received 16 inches of snow, and up to 14 inches was reported in parts of western Oklahoma.

A very cold air mass remained over southern California through the 18th. On this date some record lows across the Southland included: Big Bear Lake, CA: 3°, Mt. Laguna: 10°, Bonsall: 17°, Valley Center: 22°, Poway: 24°, El Cajon: 26°, Chula Vista: 31° and Borrego Springs, CA: 32°. Substantial avocado crop loss was estimated in the millions of dollars. Two homeless died of hypothermia.


A major Pacific coastal storm battered southern California and produced a foot of snow and wind gusts to 70 mph in the Lake Tahoe Basin of Nevada. Trees were uprooted in the San Diego area by winds gusting to 65 mph. The barometer at Los Angeles, CA dropped to a record low reading of 29.25 inHg.

Showers and thunderstorms produced 2.28 inches of rain at Brownsville, TX, their 3rd highest total for any day in January.


Strong Chinook winds plagued much of the central Rockies. Winds gusted to 100 mph were reported at Rollinsville, CO, across the Foothills southwest of Boulder, CO and across eastern and northwestern Wyoming and 80 mph at Cody, WY & southwest Boulder, CO. In Golden, CO, the high winds blew a 25-foot trailer through a fence and flipped it over.


Heavy snow fell across the Prince Williams Sound area and the Susitna Valley of southern Alaska. Valdez was buried under 64.9 inches of snow in less than two days, including a record 47.5 inches in 24 hours. Up to 44 inches of snow was reported in the Susitna Valley. The heavy snow blocked roads, closed schools, and sank half a dozen vessels in the harbor.

A storm that started on this day and ended the next day brought snow flurries within the San Diego city limits, but none was officially recorded at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, CA. 14 inches fell at Mt. Laguna and 10 to 16 inches fell in the mountains.


Bitter cold gripped areas across the Great Lakes and Northeast: Alpena, MI tied its record low for January with -28°. Boston, MA suffered through its coldest day in 26 years with an average temp for the day of only 2°. Watertown, NY was the nation’s cold spot with a reading of -43°. Blackouts were reported over a large area of Virginia as the power drain overwhelmed utilities.

A layer of ice up to two inches thick formed over sections of southeast Missouri, followed by 6 to 10 inches of snow. Numerous trees and power lines fell down due to ice accumulation. Structural damage to older barns and collapsed roofs were also reported due to the heavy weight of the snow and ice. A large number of car accidents were also reported on area highways. Some areas were without power in excess of 24 hours.


An intense Arctic High brought widespread blizzard conditions and dangerous wind chills of -40° to -70° to central and northeast South Dakota as well as west central Minnesota. One to 3 inches of snow fell on top of the already deep snowpack of 2 to 5 feet. The blizzard winds brought another round of widespread heavy drifting, blocking area roads and highways. Also, many area schools were closed once again to add to their large number of days missed for the winter season. Fortunately, this blizzard as compared to previous blizzards was short-lived and the people were better prepared.


Rainfalls of up to 3 inches across the Sierra foothills lead to streams in Merced County in central California reaching bank full. Bear Creek overflowed into the city of Merced where it flooded 180 homes and up to 5,000 acres of farmland just to the southwest of town. This was the first flood of this tributary since 1955.


Snow spread across southwestern Kansas from west to east. The heaviest snowfall occurred south of Larned to Hugoton and north of a Meade to Macksville where 6 to 10 inches was common. Snowfall totaled 16 inches in Syracuse, 15 inches in Johnson and 11 inches was recorded near Elkhart.


The observatory at Mt. Washington, NH recorded a morning low of -43°. The previous evening, the observatory reported a temperature of -39° combined with a sustained wind speed of 92 mph created a wind chill reading of -97°.

The first tornado reported in the New Year occurred near Abilene, TX ending a 50-day tornado drought that started 11/27/2003, the 4th longest tornado-free period on record.


As New England was under the grip of an arctic blast, an all-time low temperature of -50° was recorded for Maine. It was recorded at 7:30am EST at a U.S. Geological Survey stream gauge on the Big Black River near Depot Mountain in northwestern Aroostook County. The previous record, -48°, was set in Van Buren, ME almost 84 years earlier, on 01/19/1925.


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

NOAA Headlines Examiner with Dr. Steve Oliver and IPR at

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