Meteorological events that happened on January 18th:
A great cold storm swept across the Atlantic Seaboard. Snowfall totals of 12 to 24 inches were common and gale force winds caused shipwrecks and damaged property on islands. Temperatures near 0° prevailed from Virginia northward. Both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD received 24 inches of snow with drifts up to 10 feet. Norfolk, VA reported drifts as high as 20 feet. At Williamsburg, VA the temperature was only 3° at the height of the snowstorm. The cold air behind the storm penetrated into Florida where the site of present day Miami had a temperature of 30°. Boston, MA reported a barometer of 28.91 InHg during this storm. Great drifts of snow blocked transportation. Richmond, VA was cut off from Washington, D.C. for a week.
Wichita Falls, TX reported 9.8 inches of snow, making this date their snowiest calendar day ever
Oklahoma's coldest night on record occurred as the town of Watts dropped to -27°.
Idaho's coldest night on record occurred as the low temperature dropped to -60° at Island Park Dam.
Oregon continued in the grips of its worst winter month ever. A day of sleet and freezing rain caused widespread power outages. Hundreds of motorists were stranded in the Columbia River Gorge and had to be rescued by train. Even trains had a hard time moving with and through the ice.
A strong storm brought 3.98 inches of rain to Los Angeles, CA, 3.17 inches of it fell in 24 hours. At least eight people died.
The record low temperature for the state of Massachusetts was set at Birch Hill Dam when the mercury fell to -35°. This was broken on 1/22/1984.
Heavy rains of tropical origin began on this day and ended on the 28th across southern California. As much as 50 inches of rain fell at 7,700 feet. 31 inches of rain fell on the south slopes of Mt. San Gorgonio, 15.5 inches at San Jacinto Peak, around 10 inches at Banning, less than one inch from Indio southeast. 87 people were reported dead from flooding and mudslides all over California. Scores died in traffic accidents. Hundreds of homes and buildings were destroyed in slides, including 14 destroyed and 11 damaged homes in Mt. Baldy Village. 50 homes near Forest Home (Forest Falls) were damaged by flooding. Highways and railroads washed out. Power outages occurred. Cucamonga Creek itself caused $10 million in damage. The Mojave River took out numerous bridges and flooded farmlands in the upper desert.
Santa Ana winds prevailed across the southwest. A remarkable record was set at Los Angeles, CA. The high temperature of 95° at the Civic Center set the city's all time record January high shattering the old record by 5 degrees. This is only 3 degrees less than the United States January record high of 98° set in Fort McIntosh, TX on 1/18/1914 and Laredo, TX on 1/17/1936. Palm Springs, CA also set their all-time record high for January with 95°.
Locations reporting daily record highs included: Long Beach, CA: 89°, Riverside, CA: 87°, Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 86°, Santa Maria, CA: 84°-Tied, San Diego, CA: 81°, Phoenix, AZ: 80°, Bishop, CA: 76°, Las Vegas, NV: 72°, Fresno, CA: 69°, Winnemucca, NV: 68°, Reno, NV: 66°, Flagstaff, AZ: 64° and Elko, NV: 57°.
A baby was carried 300 to 400 yards by the strong winds of a tornado at Corey, LA, yet received only minor injuries.
South Carolina recorded its coldest temperature ever with a reading of -20° near Long Creek. This was broken on 1/21/1985.
The minimum temperature was 2° and the maximum temperature was 18° setting records for the date at Washington, D.C. During the month, the minimum temperature was below freezing every day of the month. This is only the 2nd month on record this occurred.
Dense fog caused a ship to ram the Alno Bridge near Gothenburg, Sweden and a 500 foot span of the bridge collapsed. Eight people died when seven cars went off the edge of the broken span.
On this date through the 27th, Tropical Cyclone Hyacinthe produced 223.5 inches of rainfall at Commerson, La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean to set the global mark for rainfall from a tropical cyclone during a 10 day period. The same storm dumped 127.6 inches of rain in just 72 hours at Grand-Ilet, La Reunion Island.
A cold morning in the Northeast with the temperature at Princeton, New Jersey at -9° and Bridgehampton on Long Island at -10°, close to an all-time record.
Tropical Cyclone Nigel struck the Fiji Islands, causing $1 million dollars in damage and 20 deaths.
A Pacific storm dumped heavy rains over northwestern Washington. Seattle, WA and vicinity reported 6 to 9 inches. There were 30 mudslides in the Seattle area alone. Major flooding occurred along with tremendous land erosion. Land under a railroad track south of Seattle gave way, derailing an Amtrak train with 28 people injured as a result.
A storm in the south central U.S. blanketed Oklahoma City, OK with 8 inches of snow, their highest total since 1948. Snowfall totals in Oklahoma ranged up to 13 inches at Gage, with drifts 5 feet high. Roof collapses across the state resulted in $7 million dollars damage.
A major Pacific storm in the southwestern U.S. produced 15 to 20 foot surf along the southern coast of California resulting in more than $50 million dollars damage. Tornadoes touched down in Mission Viejo and San Clemente causing property damage. A baseball dugout was blown 150 yards into the middle of a city street. Surf rose to 20 feet along the beaches, causing $50 million dollars worth of damage. Boulders protecting Mission Bay were washed away. Asphalt and dunes were washed out in Coronado. At Mission Beach, condos were flooded. The same storm also produced 26 inches of snow at Duck Creek, UT
A massive winter storm drilled portions of the Northern Plains from this date through the 20th. A strong area of low pressure moved northeast across the north-central Plains producing widespread precipitation. Snow amounts of 6 to 20 inches were reported in south central and southeast South Dakota, 4 to 8 inches across northwest Iowa and 8 to 12 inches across southwest Minnesota. Snow amounts included: 20 inches at Tripp, SD, 18 inches at Yankton, SD, 13 inches at Worthington, SD and 10 inches at Sioux Falls, SD. Scottsbluff, NE reported 7.4 inches of snow. High winds produced blowing snow greatly reducing visibilities and the widespread drifting blocked many roads.
While fair and mild weather prevailed across the lower 48, bitter cold gripped Alaska. The high temperature for the day at Fairbanks was -30°.
Thunderstorms along the western Gulf coast drenched parts of southwest Houston, TX with more than 4 inches of rain.
A winter storm produced heavy snow and high winds across the southwestern U.S. Snowfall totals ranged up to 18 inches at Lake Arrowhead, CA and Ashford, AZ. Death Valley received 0.37 inches of rain, which ended a consecutive streak of 378 days with no precipitation. High winds in New Mexico gusted to 100 mph east of Albuquerque. Big Bear Lake, CA set a record low with 3°.
Hong Kong's coldest night on record occurred as the low temperature dropped to the freezing mark.
Salt Lake City, UT recorded 0.5 inches of snow to push their seasonal snowfall to 76.0 inches to set a new seasonal snowfall record. The old record was 75.6 inches set back in the 1948-49 season. Total snowfall for the month at this point stood at 45.1 inches which is a record for any month. The old record was 41.9 inches set in 1977.
A big 3 day snowstorm came to an end at Valdez, Alaska as 57 inches of snow buried the city.
The massive overrunning snowstorm that had buried the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys the day before moved northeastward and clobbered interior sections of New England and the Mid Atlantic. The Washington, D.C. area received up to 2 inches of ice. 10 to 20 inches of snow fell from West Virginia to parts of New England. Two day snowfall totals included 24 inches at Grafton, NH, 23 inches at Long Pond, PA, 22 inches at Patten, ME & Hanover, NH, 20 inches at Eustis, ME, and 19 inches at Caribou, ME. 20 inches of new snow at Jay Peak, VT raised their snow cover to 91 inches. Wilkes-Barre Scranton, PA checked in with 16.6 inches, which brought their monthly snowfall to 36.9 inches, their snowiest January on record.
Behind the storm, the next blast of arctic air spread over the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Chicago, IL’s high temperature only reached -11°, tying the record for the coldest high temperature that the Windy City has ever recorded (12/24/1983). Tower, MN dropped to -44°.
Super intense snow squalls commenced in the lee of Lake Ontario in New York State. Adams was buried under 36 inches of snow in only 9 hours. Lowville picked up 25 inches for a total of 65 inches on the ground.
An area of low pressure developed over eastern Texas and intensified as it moved northeast to southern Illinois. This storm produced a band of heavy snow from portions of northeast Oklahoma to northwest Illinois bringing transportation to a halt for two days. Columbia, MO reported their greatest 24-hour snowfall on record with 19.7 inches. At Springfield, MO 14.4 inches fell through the next day, making it the heaviest 24 hour snowfall since 1980. Total damage was estimated at $2.5 million dollars. What made this storm unusual was the occurrence of thundersnow in many locations across southwest Missouri at height of the storm
Heavy rain and snowmelt from deep snow packs over New England resulted in massive flooding and caused the evacuation of 125,000 people. 80 people died and damage totaled $1 billion dollars.
A strong storm with associated cold front brought a wide variety of weather to central Illinois. Much of the area started out unseasonably mild, with temperatures in the upper 50s and lower 60s. The mild weather clashed with much colder temperatures to produce a line of severe thunderstorms which rapidly moved across the state. Some tree and power line damage was noted. Winds gusted over 70 mph at Champaign, IL. At least one weak tornado is spawned by the squall line, which is quickly followed by a blast of arctic air and rain changing to snow. Rapids snowmelt and heavy rains, followed by a quick freeze, leads to many areas of ice jam flooding. Temperatures dropped sharply as the front passed, falling to near zero by midnight. In Springfield, the 57 degree span between high and low temperature was a record for the city; a 60 degree fall in Champaign was the 2nd largest temperature drop on record. Rochester, MN fell from 45° to -5°.
The area of low pressure brought heavy snow to parts of the upper Midwest with amounts ranging from 5 to 10 inches.
The National Weather Service unveiled its new supercomputer, an IBM SP computer with a 786 processor, located at Bowie MD. The computer replaced an older Cray C-90 computer had been in use since 1994 but it was destroyed in a fire in September 1999. Five times faster than the Cray C-90 it replaced, the new IBM was one of the two fastest weather computers in the world.
Desert areas to the north of Saudi Arabia were affected by snow for the first time in 40 years. Snow fell to a depth of 4 to 8 inches in places. The snow melted away pretty quickly but reports say that nomads in the area weren’t accustomed to snow and were confused as to what to do with it.
A massive long ice jam, 3.72 miles long caused water levels to rise on the Saint John River in New Brunswick Canada threatening the world's longest covered bridge, the 105-year-old wooden crossing at Hartland. Rising water levels threatened to lift the quarter of a mile long bridge off its pier, but luckily didn’t.
A severe cold wave pushed the temperature at Moscow, Russia down to -22°, the coldest readings since the winter of 1978-1979.
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