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Weather History: January 25: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, ice, wind & snow

Meteorological events that happened on January 25th:


The Hudson River in New York City was completely frozen over. People were able to cross the river between Hoboken, NJ and New York City. Temperature plunged to -14° in New York City. Entrepreneurs set up beverage stations in the middle of the river to warm pedestrians.


During the evening, a display of the Northern Lights danced above Burlington, VT. The light was equal to that of a full moon. Snow and other objects reflecting the light were deeply tinged with a blood red hue. Blue, yellow and white streamers were also noted.


Japan's coldest recorded temperature occurred as Asahikawa dropped to -40.6°.


Heavy rain that began on this day and ended on the 30th exacerbated the flooding earlier in the month across southern California. Five inches fell in less than 12 hours at San Diego. Extensive flooding occurred all over Southern California, the worst to date, and it resulted in 28 total deaths in the region, 22 people in San Diego County. This is the most destructive and deadly weather event in San Diego County History. The Lower Otay Dam broke sending a 40-foot wall of water downstream, killing 15 people. A few others drowned in Mission Valley and in the San Luis Rey River. The Sweetwater Dam also broke. Every large bridge in San Diego County but one was seriously damaged or destroyed. Four people drowned in Orange County, two in a cottage floating down the Santa Ana River. Two people drowned in San Bernardino County. Total damage was nearly $8 million (1916) dollars.


The temperature at Richmond, VA dropped to -6°, the first of six consecutive days with below 0° readings. The cold followed on the heels of the city’s biggest snowstorm ever, as 21.6 inches of snow fell over a 3-day period.


Las Vegas, NV recorded 4.7 inches of snow. This brought the monthly snowfall total to 16.7 inches which still ranks as their snowiest month on record.


Parts of the Ohio Valley, lower Great Lakes and southern Canada enjoyed a preview to spring with sunshine and record high temperatures. Fort Wayne, IN soared to a January record high of 69° following a record January morning high minimum temperature of 52°. Other January record included: South Bend, IN: 68°, Grand Rapids, MI: 66°, Muskegon, MI: 63° and Toronto, Ontario Canada: 62.1°.

In contrast, Billings, MT managed an afternoon high of just -10° during their coldest January on record where the average temperature was just 5.1°.


38 inches of rain was recorded in a 24-hour period through this date at the Kilauea Plantation, Hawaii. 12 inches occurred in just one hour.


A severe dust storm swept from the northern Plains into Oklahoma. Visibility dropped to near zero in parts of west Texas and western Oklahoma. Winds gusted to 75 mph in Lubbock, TX and 55 mph at Oklahoma City, OK. The blowing dust eventually spread as far east as Pennsylvania

Alta, UT was buried under 105 inches of snow, establishing a snowfall record for the state.


The highest wind gust was recorded in the state of Colorado of 147 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research on the Mesa in southwest Boulder. Other wind gusts included: At the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder: 91 mph, downtown Boulder: 87 mph and 75 mph at the Jefferson County Airport in Broomfield. The winds caused widespread minor damage in Boulder.


A windstorm brought gusts to 66 mph at Buffalo, NY and a temperature drop from 51 at 1am to 10 at Midnight. Lake front flooding occurred on Lake Erie with a peak storm surge of 9.2 feet during the morning. Minor flooding occurred on Cayuga Island in the Niagara River.


This was the 29th consecutive day where the high temperature at Chicago, IL was below freezing. The 43-day long cold snap lasted from 12/28/1976 through 2/8/1977 setting the all-time record for the longest period below freezing. This was also the same time period of below freezing temperatures at Rockford, IL also setting their all-time record.

This was the last day of a 28 day period where Springfield, IL had high temperatures of 32 degrees or below.


Meteorologist Bert Reeves was concerned as he studied the weather charts for the day from the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, IN. He issued a blizzard warning for the entire state of Indiana. It turned out to be a good move, as the Great Blizzard of '78 began. The worst of the storm occurred from eastern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan where snowfall totals of one to two feet were common with South Bend, IN picking up three feet thanks to lake effect. At times, winds gusted to 80 mph creating whiteout conditions, drifts to rooftops of one story buildings and wind chill readings down to -60°.

Beginning on this date through February 23rd, there was a record 30 days with temperatures below freezing at St. Louis, MO.


The barometric pressure in a massive storm in Gulf of Alaska dropped to 940 millibars or 27.76 inHg, the equivalent of a strong category 4 hurricane.


The second major storm in three days hit the Eastern Seaboard producing up to 15 inches of snow in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Up to 30 inches of snow covered the ground in Virginia following the two storms.

Oklahoma reeled from one of its worst winter storms ever as up to two inches of ice accumulated from Duncan to Norman to Tulsa. Many areas were without power for up to two weeks.


A Nor'easter moved up the Atlantic Coast spreading heavy snow from the Carolinas to New England, with as much as 16 inches reported in the Pocono Mountains in eastern Pennsylvania.

High winds created blizzard conditions across the eastern Foothills of Colorado. Winds gusted to 109 mph at Echo Lake, 96 mph near Rollinsville and 48 mph at the former Stapleton International Airport in Denver..


Bitter cold air, coming down from Alaska, settled over the Northern Rockies. Wilson, WY reported a morning low of -48°.

Thunderstorms produced severe weather in the south central U.S. One thunderstorm in north central Texas spawned a tornado which injured three people in the town of Troy.


Low pressure developed explosively over east central Missouri and moved into Lower Michigan producing high winds and heavy snow across parts of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. Wind gusts to 60 mph and up to a foot of snow created near blizzard conditions in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Wind gusts in Indiana reached 76 mph at Wabash and 58 mph at Fort Wayne. Thunderstorms associated with the storm produced wind gusts to 54 mph at Fort Madison, IA.

A vicious wind storm hit Europe with winds of up to 120 mph. 47 people died in Great Britain with damage estimates as high as $1.3 billion dollars.


It was a cold morning at Saranack Lake, NY, as the temperature plummeted to -25°.


Residents of the San Joaquin Valley in California were treated to a rare occurrence of snow; their biggest in 67 years. Snow had only fallen in the area 15 times since 1937, when 3 inches fell at Bakersfield during the early morning hours on this date. Meadows Field recorded 3 inches but amounts between 4 and 6 inches were reported in the Panorama Heights area of northeast Bakersfield. In Tulare County snow plows were called out to remove 2 to 4 inches of snow. The weight of the snow also caused trees and power lines to fall plunging 75,000 customers into darkness in Kern and Tulare Counties. Snow fell as far north as Fresno where a dusting was observed and as far west as Hanford where a half inch accumulated. Other amounts included: Lindsay: 4 inches, Delano: 3.5 inches, Wasco and Corcoran: 3 inches, Porterville: 2.5 inches and 2 inches at Visalia, Taft, Lost Hills, Sanger and Parlier.


Forecasters were caught by surprise by a major winter storm that affected North Carolina to Maryland with 8 to 18 inches of wind driven snow. Afternoon forecasts called for light snow, thinking the storm would pass further out to sea. The storm hugged the coast and dropped a foot of snow on the nation’s capital. The heaviest totals were towards the east and south of Washington, D.C. The storm was a record breaker in North Carolina, where Raleigh recorded 20.2 inches of snow. It appeared that the developing storm system in the southeast would track out to sea, south of Washington, sparing the area of significant accumulation. Late in the evening of the 24th it became quickly apparent that the storm was going to take a track up the East Coast and not out to sea. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Washington area at 9:07 pm and minute later the television networks interrupted programs with the emergency weather bulletin. The late news programs focused on the impending storm; however, many people had missed the warnings. Several inches of snow was on the ground at daybreak, with winds gusting at 25 to 45 mph creating blizzard conditions in some areas. The region was at a stand still. Airports and transit systems were shut down. Schools were closed. Federal, state and county government offices were closed or quickly closed once the full impact of the storm was realized. Some federal employees in Northern Virginia who begin their commutes well before the government shutdown at 7am were left battling the storm to attempt to return home. The heaviest band of snow fell from south central Virginia through Petersburg and the Northern Neck with 12 to 18 inches of snow. Drifts of 4 to 5 feet were common. Snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain in some of the eastern counties. Numerous traffic accidents occurred. Virginia Beach, VA alone recorded 84 during the storm. Strong winds pushed the tide in causing flooding of some roads. Some beach erosion occurred along the shore and the U.S. Coast Guard rescued four crewmembers of a vessel caught in the rough seas off Cape Charles, VA. Cold weather followed with the fresh snow pack. Snowfall amounts included: Annapolis, MD: 18 inches, Baltimore, MD: 14.9 inches, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 10 inches and 9.3 inches at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. There was at least one fatality due to hypothermia.


Melbourne, Australia recorded their fourth hottest day on record as the afternoon high soared to 111°.


Funnel clouds were spotted over parts of central Oahu in Hawaii, though no confirmation of a tornado touchdown was reported. Hawaii reports about one tornado per year.


Low pressure moved across southern Ontario bringing snowfall accumulations of 8 to 20 inches across western New York. Snowfall amounts were enhanced over the higher elevations of the western southern tier and parts of the Tug Hill region. In addition, strong westerly winds produced considerable blowing and drifting snow, making travel hazardous.

Heavy snow forced the closure of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.


A small ice storm occurred across the lower Mississippi Valley with freezing rain observed across the northern half of the region. Ice accumulations of around a quarter of an inch created hazardous driving conditions causing numerous accidents and one fatality.

A tornado moved across the Point Mugu Naval Air Station in southern California. The tornado appeared to have originated as a waterspout that had moved onshore. It tore the roof off of a building at the Naval Base.


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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