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Weather History: January 29: Record temps, storms, snow, ice, wind & tropics

Meteorological events that happened on January 29th:


On the coldest morning of this winter season, the mercury dipped to -20° at Hartford, CT and -16° at New York City, NY. The New York Harbor was frozen for five weeks, allowing heavy cannons to be transported across the ice to fortify the British on Staten Island. Further south, on the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay, sleighs crossed from Annapolis, MD to the Eastern Shore. To the south Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News and Portsmouth were connected by thick ice that supported foot traffic between ports.


A small but intense windstorm resulted in the "Great Olympic Blowdown" in the Pacific Northwest. Hurricane force winds, funneled along the mountains, downed vast expanses of Douglas fir trees, and the storm destroyed $8 billion dollars board feet of timber. Winds at North Head, WA gusted to 113 mph.


The high temperature of 43° at Downtown Los Angeles, CA was their lowest high temperature on record.


The temperature at Mount Washington, NH dropped to -47°, the state's coldest night on record.


On this date through the 30th, a fierce winter storm buried southern Wisconsin under two feet of snow. Strong northeasterly winds piled drifts up to 10 feet high in the Milwaukee area, shutting down the city for two days.


A waterspout was sited off Ocean Beach, CA. Two funnel clouds were observed over North Island (possibly the waterspout) and Mt. Soledad – La Jolla. Across the higher elevations, heavy snow fell. Some accumulations included: 24 inches at Mt. Laguna, 21 inches at Palomar Mountain, 20 inches at Lake Cuyamaca, 12 inches at Julian, 10 inches at Mesa Grande, and 6 inches at Lake Henshaw. The snowstorm stranded 200 people north of Los Angeles.

In South America, the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires recordered their all-time record high of 43.3°C (109.9°F).


A strong coastal storm brought gale force winds and blizzard conditions to the East Coast on this date through the 30th. During the early afternoon, the storm center was over eastern Georgia and light snow had started to fall and Washington, D.C. area by evening. The storm then moved to the South Carolina coast and snowfall in D.C. became heavy falling at times at two inches per hour. During the night the storm curved to the north and intensified dramatically deepening the pressure from 29.40 inHg to 28.80 inHg in just 12 hours. Winds were gusted up to 54 mph and blew out plate glass windows and whipped snowdrifts up to 10 feet high. By morning, blizzard conditions were occurring across the Baltimore/Washington area, with temperatures in the low teens and wind gusts over 50 mph. The blizzard of 1966 produced a swath of 12 to 16 inches of snow. National Airport reported 13.8 inches of new snow and a snow cover range from 16 inches at National Airport to 22 inches at Warrenton, VA. South and east of D.C. snowfall depths range from 16 to 19 inches of along the central Eastern Shore of Maryland. Some other snowfall amounts: Roanoke, VA: 17 inches, Newport, PA: 16 inches and Baltimore, MD: 12 inches. After the blizzard, up to 30 inches of snow was measured on the ground and the Delmarva area.


A strong cold front blasted through the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic during the afternoon and evening hours. The front produced high winds across parts of the Mid-Atlantic causing damage across parts of southeastern Pennsylvania. Winds gusted to 59 mph at Allentown, PA and 53 mph at Philadelphia, PA.

Out ahead of the front, warm southwesterly winds brought record highs from Texas, across the Deep South, Midwest and East Coast. Dulles Airport at Sterling, VA set their January record high with 75°. Locations that reported daily record highs included: Fort Myers, FL: 87°-Tied, Houston, TX: 82°, Shreveport, LA: 82°, Columbia, SC: 82°, Tampa, FL: 82°-Tied, Baton Rouge, LA: 81°, Montgomery, AL: 81°-Tied, Little Rock, AR: 78°, Athens, GA: 78°, Lake Charles, LA: 78°-Tied, Greensboro, NC: 78°-Tied, Atlanta, GA: 77°, Greenville-Spartanburg, SC: 77°, Richmond, VA: 77°, Birmingham, AL: 77°-Tied, Memphis, TN: 76°, Charlotte, NC: 76°, Washington, D.C.: 76°, Lynchburg, VA: 75°, Roanoke, VA: 75°, Baltimore, MD: 75°, Louisville, KY: 73°, Asheville, NC: 72°-Tied, Evansville, IN: 70°, Wallops Island, VA: 70° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Lexington, KY: 69°, Wilmington, DE: 68°, Atlantic City, NJ: 68°, Oak Ridge, TN: 68°-Tied, Indianapolis, IN: 65°, Columbus, OH: 65°, Akron, OH: 64°, Philadelphia, PA: 64°-Tied, Mansfield, OH: 60°, Harrisburg, PA: 60°, Newark, NJ: 57°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 57°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 56°, New York (Central Park), NY: 55°, Bridgeport, CT: 54°, Allentown, PA: 52° and Binghamton, NY: 47°.


A major outbreak of cold air continues across the West due to an upper level trough. It was a bitter -25° at Big Bear Lake, their all-time record low and probably the lowest temperature ever recorded in Southern California. Remarkably, their high was 28°, a rise of 53 degrees.

Locations that reported record low temperatures for the date included: Idyllwild, CA: 6°, Palomar Mountain, CA: 14°, Las Vegas, NV: 17°-Tied, Santa Maria, CA: 24°, Stockton, CA: 24°-Tied, Sacramento, CA: 25°, Borrego Springs, CA: 29°, Long Beach, CA: 31°, San Francisco Airport, CA: 31°, Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 32° and Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 34°.


A powerful storm struck Southern California with flooding rains and damaging winds. In San Diego County 5.60 inches fell at Lake Henshaw, 5.48 inches at Palomar Mountain, 5 inches at Ramona, 4.91 inches at Julian, 4.24 inches at Fallbrook, 3.35 inches at Mt. Laguna with no snow, 3.24 inches at Escondido, 2.35 inches at Oceanside, 1.91 inches at Pt. Loma, 1.80 inches at San Diego and 1.37 inches at Borrego Springs. Widespread catastrophic flooding occurred all over the county. Numerous homes, businesses and streets were flooded. Two people died in the floods. Wind gusts reached 74 mph unofficially at Lake Murray and 52 mph at San Diego. Coastal areas reported wind gusts over 60 mph. At least 15 boats were sunken or severely damaged in Mission Bay and San Diego Bay. A dock was smashed at Mission Bay.


The series of land-falling Pacific coast storms finally came to an end. The storms attributed in part to El Niño, produced waves 15 to 20 feet high which ravaged the beaches of southern California. Much of the damage was to homes of movies stars in exclusive Malibu.


Much of Iowa experienced near blizzard conditions through the 30th, as snow, combined with high winds lowered visibilities to near zero. Winds gusted to 61 mph at Sioux City, where two television stations had to shut down for a short time due to a broken telephone pole near the transmission site. The snow accumulated to a depth of 4 to 7 inches in much of west central through northeast Iowa.

Along the northern slope of Alaska, the town of Barrow set a record low with -48°.

Cyclone Domoina struck the eastern South African coast in northern Natal producing heavy downpours and extensive flooding. 200 people died along with serious loss of animal life and crops.


A strong storm moving out of the Central Rockies spread snow across the north central states, with up to 8 inches in parts of Wisconsin, and produced wind gusts to 64 mph at Goodland, KS.

A thunderstorm produced 3 inches of snow in just 45 minutes at Owing Mills, MD just north of Baltimore.


Bitter cold air continued to pour into Alaska. At McGrath, the temperature dipped to a record low of -64°. Strong winds blowing through the Alaska Range between Fairbanks and Anchorage produced a wind chill reading of -120° (old scale) at Cantwell.

Locations that reported daily record lows included: Barrow: -48°-Tied, Bethel: -42°, Homer: -24°, Kodiak: -9° and Cold Bay: -7°.


Severe thunderstorms in the southeastern U.S. spawned a tornado which destroyed three mobile homes near Blythe, GA injuring 6 people.

A fast moving cold front produced high winds in the western U.S. Winds along the coast of Oregon gusted to 65 mph at Portland, and high winds generated 22 to 26 foot surf which battered the coast. Winds near Reno, NV gusted to 78 mph. High winds also buffeted the Central Plains, with gusts to 94 mph reported at La Mesa, CO and 73 mph at Cheyenne, WY.


The low temperature at Oimyakon, Siberia dropped to -78° as bitter cold descended on northern Russia. The afternoon high only reached -65°.


A major 3-day winter storm blasted parts of Kansas and Missouri. A catastrophic ice storm occurred south of the snow area, with two inches of ice and snow accumulating in the Kansas City, MO area. Thousands of trees were downed by the storm, blocking roads, downing utility lines and causing fires. 325,000 people were without power in Kansas City alone.

Light snow was reported across inland areas of central California and the southern Inland Empire during a storm that started on the previous day and ended on this day. Snow flurries were observed in the Valley at Los Banos, Madera, Hanford, McFarland and Shafter.

Record rainfall was reported at several Hawaii recording stations. Hilo Airport shattered their January 24-hour rainfall record measuring 12.47 inches. During the month, Hilo reported 26.97 inches of rain. Elsewhere on the island, it was even wetter; Pahala was drenched with 17.47 inches while Glenwood recorded 14.70 inches. The storms caused millions of dollars in flood damage.


A strong trough crossed the lower Great Lakes region. The well-aligned northwest flow kicked off an intense band of lake effect snow over Oswego County in New York. The band remained nearly stationary for 36 to 42 hours. Four to five feet of snow fell in a narrow section of central Oswego County by the afternoon of the 30th. The band drifted north into southern Lewis and extreme southern Jefferson Counties for awhile on the 30th, before drifting back south across Monroe, Wayne and northern Cayuga Counties on the 31st. Specific snowfall totals included: 86 inches at Parish, 58 inches at Constantia, 56 inches at West Monroe, 51 inches at North Osceola, 48 inches at Oswego and 40 inches at Fulton. The weight of this snow, as well as previous lake effect storms during the month, caused several buildings to collapse. Because of the heavy lake effect snows throughout the month of January, Oswego, Jefferson and Cayuga Counties were declared State and Federal Disaster areas. Off Lake Erie, snowfalls were limited by the ice cover on the lake. Lake effect snow prevailed over the higher elevations south of Buffalo from late on the 28th through this date. Reported snowfall totals included: 18 inches at Orangeville, 14 inches at Warsaw and Arkwright, 12 inches at South Wales and 8 inches at Perrysburg.

All Minnesota weather stations recorded low temperatures below 0°. The coldest was Park Rapids where the low was -45°. Grand Forks, ND reported a record low of -40°.


The country of Hungary recorded its coldest morning since 1947 with a reading of -8° at Zabar.


An area of low pressure was moving across the northern Plains on the 28th, helping to bring mild temperatures across much of the Midwest and Missouri Valley. Highs were in the 40s to the mid 50s across central and northeast South Dakota to the mid 60s from central Illinois into Missouri. By the morning on this date, this strengthening system had moved into eastern Wisconsin. In its wake, temperatures plummeted, falling around 2 to 5 degrees per hour. Differences from the morning highs to the night time lows were over 50 degrees in most locations. Temperatures fell 20 to 40 degrees in just a couple hours, with areas from Springfield to St. Louis seeing temperatures fall as much as 50 degrees between noon and 6 pm. Temperatures in the mid 60s in central Illinois at midday on the 29th had fallen to near zero by the next morning.

Meanwhile, the winds added even more bite to the air, with wind gusts in the afternoon and evening of 40 mph or greater. The combination of the strong winds and tumbling temperatures resulted in dangerous wind chills from -30° to -50° that night.

Uranium City in northern Saskatchewan was the coldest place in North America and possibly the entire planet at -74.2°.


Check out my colleague Weather Examiners:

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