Meteorological events that happened on January 26th:
The Charlestown to Boston, MA ferry was frozen for six weeks in the most severe winter of the 17th century. Heavy February snows followed.
The greatest snowfall ever recorded in Washington, D.C. began. When the storm began, Thomas Jefferson was returning home from his honeymoon with his new bride, Martha Wayles Skelton. The newlyweds made it to within eight miles of Monticello before having to abandon their carriage in the deep snow. Both finished the ride on horseback in the blinding snow. The newlyweds arrived home late at night.
A storm brought rains, thaw, and floods to the area from eastern Pennsylvania to Maine and heavy snows from western Pennsylvania to northern Kentucky.
A destructive tornado hit a factory in Pottsville, PA, killing many people.
Kilmahumaig recorded Prince Edward Island Canada’s coldest day ever as the temperature dropped to -35°.
The Ohio River was 80 feet above flood stage at Cincinnati, OH as flooding continued along the river from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL.
Perhaps the worst ice jam of record in the Niagara River gorge occurred at Niagara Falls, NY. Ice flows pouring over the falls, piled up to a height of more than 30 feet, 60 to 70 feet in spots. The tremendous pressure of the ice against the steel supports of the Falls View Bridge caused them to bend or break off. The abutments of the bridge were so weakened after more than 24 hours of battering that the great structure fell into the gorge at 4:13pm of the 27th. The plant of the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission on the Canadian side of the gorge near the Horseshoe Falls was nearly buried in ice and water and so seriously damaged that several months will be required to restore service. Water and ice filled the plant to a depth of 18 feet. Many of the giant generators were damaged, perhaps ruined. The docks used by the "Maid of the Mist", and the two steamers themselves, were also damaged. The river at Queenston rose 30 feet, and to within 20 feet of the huge hydro-electric plant at that point; no damage had resulted to this up to the end of January. Along the lower Niagara River, some cottages, boat landings, etc, were damaged or destroyed.
Alabama and the Deep South were in the grips of a deep freeze. The official reading at the Birmingham City weather office in Alabama was 1°. The airport reading, the official location now, was -10°. Skaters were able to skate on the frozen surface of the Black Warrior River west of Birmingham, where ice was 6 inches thick near the banks. The cold followed on the heels of a 10-inch snowfall on the 23rd.
The low temperature at Cheyenne, WY was -6°. This was the last of 10 consecutive days with a daily low temperature below zero which still stands as their longest streak ever recorded.
High pressure off the Carolina coast brought a second day of record high temperatures from Texas to New England. An unusually warm fall and January left waters in the Schuylkill and Tulpehocken Rivers warm enough for unheard of mid-winter swimming at Reading, PA as temperatures rose into the 70’s.
Many locations set record high temperatures for January including: Meridian, MS: 83°-Tied, Washington, D.C.: 79°, Baltimore, MD: 79°-Tied, Wilmington, DE: 75°, Philadelphia, PA: 74°, Newark, NJ: 74°, Harrisburg, PA: 73°-Tied, Allentown, PA: 72°, New York (Central Park), NY: 72°-Tied, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 72°-Tied, Boston, MA: 72° (the only time on record Boston has been above 70° in January), Milton, MA: 68° and Worcester, MA: 67°-Tied.
Locations that reported daily record highs included: Gainesville, FL: 85°-Tied, Tampa, FL: 84°, Corpus Christi, TX: 84°-Tied, Jacksonville, FL: 82°, Macon, GA: 81°, Columbia, SC: 81°, Jackson, MS: 80°, Augusta, GA: 80°, Columbus, GA: 80°, Richmond, VA: 80°, Tallahassee, FL: 80°-Tied, New Orleans, LA: 79°, Raleigh, NC: 78°, Richmond, VA: 78°, Lake Charles, LA: 78°-Tied, Savannah, GA: 78°-Tied, Pensacola, FL: 77°, Athens, GA: 77°, Atlanta, GA: 77°, Norfolk, VA: 77°, Mobile, AL: 77°-Tied, Birmingham, AL: 76°, Galveston, TX: 75°, Little Rock, AR: 75°, Huntsville, AL: 75°, Bristol, TN: 75°, Charlotte, NC: 75°, Lynchburg, VA: 75°, Knoxville, TN: 74°, Charleston, WV: 74°, Greensboro, NC: 74°, Memphis, TN: 73°, Beckley, WV: 73°, Asheville, NC: 73°, Atlantic City, NJ: 73°, Chattanooga, TN: 72°, Louisville, KY: 72°, Paducah, KY: 72°, Elkins, WV: 71°, Huntington, WV: 71°, Cape Hatteras, NC: 71°, Columbus, OH: 70°, Erie, PA: 70°, Buffalo, NY: 70° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Cleveland, OH: 69°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 69°, Cincinnati, OH: 69°-Tied, Toledo, OH: 68°, Pittsburgh, PA: 68°, Syracuse, NY: 68°, Oak Ridge, TN: 67°, Dayton, OH: 67°, Mansfield, OH: 67°, Youngstown, OH: 67°, Avoca, PA: 67°, Rochester, NY: 67°, Akron, OH: 66°, Hartford, CT: 65°, Portland, ME: 64°, Concord, NH: 63°, Williamsport, PA: 61°, Bridgeport, CT: 60°, Albany, NY: 59°, Burlington, VT: 55° and Caribou, ME: 51°.
The second in a series of storms occurred today and produced heavy snows south and east of Washington, D.C. Richmond, VA received 15 inches of snow and much of the southern and eastern Maryland received 10 to 17 inches. National Airport reported 7.5 inches and Dulles reported 6 inches of snow.
Chicago, IL experienced their worst snowstorm on record as an astounding 24 inches of snow fell in 29 hours. Winds gusted to 50 mph, creating whiteout conditions and drifts up to 12 feet high. Thousands of cars and buses were abandoned by drivers all over the city, making the job of plowing the streets nearly impossible. The cities three major airports were closed; an estimated 20,000 cars and 500 buses were stranded on city streets. Some of the plowed snow was sent to Florida in railroad cars.
Further south, severe weather was reported across parts of the Mississippi Valley. An F2 tornado reported in Leflore County, Mississippi injured 7 people.
Bishop, CA recorded 1.08 inches of rain on this date. This was the 9th consecutive day with measurable rainfall, which is an all-time record.
Billings, MT set their all-time record cold high temperature with -21° (after a morning low of -27°). Their temperature did not rise above -5° from the 24th through the 27th.
Four days of very strong winds occurred from the 26th through the 29th across the northern Plains with a strong low pressure area over western Ontario Canada. Strong northwest winds of 30 to 45 mph with gusts over 60 mph caused widespread blowing and drifting snow with most roads closed with many traffic accidents in parts of South Dakota. The winds combined with subzero temperatures to create wind chills of -60° to -80°. Many schools were closed for several days.
An extremely powerful storm, known as the “Cleveland Superbomb”, set record low barometric pressure readings from Atlanta, GA to Ontario, Canada. The central pressure of the storm dropped to 957 millibars (28.26 inHg), very rare for a storm over land. One to three feet of snow fell in parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Winds gusted to 70 mph in parts of Michigan, and gusted above 100 mph in parts of Ohio. Snow drifts 20 to 25 feet high were reported in parts of Michigan and Indiana stranding thousands of motorists. Temperatures in Ohio dropped from the 40’s to near 0° during the storm.
Buffalo, NY reported a wind gust of 66 mph and a new all-time record low pressure of 28.41 inHg.
Residents across the Northern Plains were still cleaning up from the third consecutive weekend of severe winter weather. On January 22nd through the 24th, a record breaking snowstorm struck much of South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Amounts across South Dakota ranged from 6 to 20 inches. The heaviest snow, at Elk Point, was accompanied by a rare January thunderstorm. Sub-zero temperatures across the area combined with 30 to 50 mph winds to produce wind chill values of -50° to -80°. Travel became impossible in the height of the storm as over 90% of roads in central and eastern South Dakota were blocked. Snow plows couldn't make any headway until the storm had passed.
Drifts up to 15 to 20 feet buried the area. Sioux City, IA piled up 18 inches of snow as all roads in northwest Iowa were closed on the 22nd. Conditions were no better in Minnesota. Minneapolis set, what up to that point was, a single storm snowfall record with 18.5 inches. Incredibly, the record that this storm broke had just been set two days earlier when 17.4 inches buried the Twin Cities. That's nearly 36 inches of new snow in just over three days.
The California coast was battered by a storm which produced record high tides, 32 foot waves, and mudslides, causing millions of dollars damage. The storm then moved east and dumped four feet of snow on Lake Tahoe.
A winter storm spread heavy snow across the Mid-Atlantic States, with 18 inches reported at Vineland, NJ, and wind gusts to 65 mph at Chatham, MA. Snow cover in Virginia ranged up to 30 inches following this 2nd major storm in just one week.
A snowstorm in the northeastern U.S. produced 19 inches at Austerlitz and Stillwater, NY.
Officially 5.0 inches was recorded at the airport at Buffalo, NY while just south of the airport and in metropolitan Buffalo, 7 to 12 inches of snow fell. The snow disrupted road and air traffic, and closed schools. Several chain reaction accidents occurred involving a total of 30 cars. Later in the day, the squalls moved south into the traditional snowbelt areas.
A storm in the Great Lakes Region left 16.5 inches at Marquette, MI, for a total of 43 inches in 6 days.
Snow and high winds created blizzard conditions across northwestern Vermont. Winds at St. Albins gusted to 88 mph.
In Alaska, the town of Coldfoot, located north of Fairbanks, reported a morning low of -75°. Other record lows included: Bettles, AK: -69°, McGrath, AK: -67°, Barrow, AK: -49°, Nome, AK: -43°, Bethel, AK: -41°, St. Paul Island, AK: -4° and Cold Bay, AK: 0°.
A winter storm spread high winds from the northwestern U.S. to Wyoming and Colorado, with heavy snow in some of the higher elevations. Stevens Pass, WA received 17 inches of snow, half of which fell in 4 hours. In extreme northwest Wyoming, Togwotee Mountain Lodge received 24 inches of snow. Rollinsville, CO reported a wind gust of 90 mph.
More snow at Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, PA brought their total for the month to 42 inches, making it the city’s snowiest month ever.
Near blizzard conditions occurred across northwest Iowa through the 27th. Snowfall totals of 5 to 10 inches fell in extreme northwest Iowa with 10 inches reported at Rock Valley. In addition, Sioux Falls, SD also reported 10 inches. Winds of 20 to 35 mph caused widespread blowing and drifting snow.
A strong winter storm moved northeast from Iowa and blanketed much of the southwest and central Wisconsin with 10 to 18 inches of snow. The heaviest snow occurred along a 100 mile axis centered from La Crosse northeast toward Fort McCoy and further into northeast Wisconsin. An isolated report of 18 inches was reported 6 miles east of La Crosse and the La Crosse Regional Airport received 12 inches. Blizzard conditions existed during the height of the storm that left drifts 4 to 8 feet high. Travel was nearly impossible. The snow lingered into the early morning hours of the 27th. Green Bay, WI reported 15.3 inches. The 13.7 inches at Des Moines, IA was the city's biggest snowstorm in nearly 23 years. 13 inches of snow fell in 24 hours at La Crosse, WI, the city's greatest 24 hour snowfall total ever in January. Madison, WI record 8 inches of snow in just two hours.
Thunderstorms spawned by the same storm system deluged Birmingham, AL with 4.71 inches of rain, their greatest daily January rainfall on record.
Low pressure moved up the east coast with western New York on the fringe of the snow. The north-northeast flow across Lake Ontario resulted in enhanced snowfalls downwind of the lake. Snowfall totals generally ranged from 6 to 12 inches with isolated amounts of 16 inches reported across the eastern suburbs of Rochester, NY.
The temperature finally went above freezing at New York City, NY for the first time in 12 days as the temperature rose to a high of 34° in Central Park. The streak of sub-freezing temperatures tied for 3rd longest in New York City history. Despite the very cold temperatures during the streak, no daily records were broken.
Aboyne, Aberdeenshire in Scotland reached 65° to equal the United Kingdom's high January temperature record.
A major winter storm affected southern Illinois through the 28th. On the northern edge, 8 to 12 inches of snow fell from Shelbyville to Paris, with 6 to 10 inches common southward across most of the remainder of Illinois. Near the Ohio River, ice accumulated to around an inch, with local amounts close to two inches.
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