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Weather History: January 3: Record temps, storms, snow, wind, fog & flooding

Meteorological events that happened on January 3rd:


An overnight freeze enabled George Washington and his troops to flank the British at Trenton, cross their lines at Princeton, and seek security in the hills of northern New Jersey.


Residents of the Midwest and Ohio Valley observed a brilliant meteorite. Witnesses said that the trail left by the meteorite was visible for as long as 30 minutes.


Brutal record cold prevailed from the Plains to the West Coast. Locations reporting record lows for the date included: International Falls, MN: -35°, St. Cloud, MN: -31°, Grand Forks, ND: -31°, Aberdeen, SD: -30°, Duluth, MN: -30°, Huron, SD: -29°, Rochester, MN: -28°, Norfolk, NE: -27°, Valentine, NE: -24°, Sioux Falls, SD: -23°-Tied, North Platte, NE: -22°, Scottsbluff, NE: -22°, Sioux City, IA: -20°, La Crosse, WI: -20°-Tied, Dodge City, KS: -17°, Ste. St. Marie, MI: -17°, Green Bay, WI: -17°, Colorado Springs, CO: -16°, Concordia, KS: -14°, Topeka, KS: -10°, Wichita, KS: -10°, Kansas City, MO: -10°, Springfield, MO: -9°, Oklahoma City, OK: -9°, Columbia, MO: -8°, Amarillo, TX: -6°, Albuquerque, NM: -5°, Roswell, NM: -3°, Dallas (DFW), TX: 4°, Abilene, TX: 5°, Waco, TX: 8°, El Paso, TX: 9°, Austin, TX: 12°, Del Rio, TX: 14°, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 15°, Houston, TX: 16°, San Antonio, TX: 16°, Tucson, AZ: 17°, Victoria, TX: 18°, Galveston, TX: 19°, Corpus Christi, TX: 21°, Phoenix, AZ: 25°-Tied and Brownsville, TX: 28°.

Gainesville, FL reported a record afternoon high of 81°.


Calgary, Alberta Canada recorded its wettest January day on record as 1 inch was measured.


A trough across the East and a ridge out West brought some record temperatures. Extreme cold brought record lows from parts of the Lakes to the East Coast including:

Oakland, MD: -30°, Hagerstown, MD: -18°, Muskegon, MI: -16° (broke previous record by 15 degrees), Burlington, VT: -12°, Williamsport, PA: -8°, Mansfield, OH: -5°, Avoca, PA: -5°, Elkins, WV: -5°, Lexington, KY: -2°, Charleston, WV: -2°, Frederick, MS: -1°, Huntington, WV: -1°, Wilmington, DE: 4°, Harrisburg, PA: 4°, Roanoke, VA: 4°, Providence, RI: 5°, Richmond, VA: 7°, Lynchburg, VA: 8°, Greensboro, NC: 9°, Norfolk, VA: 11°, Wilmington, NC: 15° and Columbia, SC: 15°.

Meanwhile record high temperatures occurred from the Rockies to the West Coast including: Yuma, AZ: 81°, Amarillo, TX: 74°, Pueblo, CO: 70°, Colorado Springs, CO: 66°, North Platte, NE: 66°, Scottsbluff, NE: 65°, Albuquerque, NM: 64°, Goodland, KS: 63°, Flagstaff, AZ: 62°, Valentine, NE: 60°, Cheyenne, WY: 59°, Great Falls, MT: 57°, Elko, NV: 57°, Winnemucca, NV: 57°, Lander, WY: 55°, Missoula, MT: 53°, Salt Lake City, UT: 52° and Grand Junction, CO: 52°-Tied.


The first radio broadcasts of weather forecasts began as the University of Wisconsin began using the new medium. Within two years, over 140 radio telephone stations would be broadcasting weather reports by radio.


Fort Wayne, Indiana's longest stretch without a sub-zero temperature, 1,413 days, ended when the temperature fell to -1°. Prior, the most recent sub-zero temperature was -6° on 2/19/1936.

Record lows for this date included: Paducah, KY: 2°, Beckley, WV: 2° and Charleston, SC: 19°.


The Great Blizzard of 1949 grew in intensity with heavy snow, strong winds and bitter cold temperatures. On this day Cheyenne, WY recorded their highest daily precipitation total ever in January with 1.32 inches. Many areas recorded all-time daily record snowfalls including 26.7 inches at Chadron, NE with snowfall estimated at 25 to 30 inches burying Cheyenne and much of southeast Wyoming. This combined with temperatures at or below zero all day and wind gusts over 50 mph paralyzed the region.

Warren, AR was hit by a F4 tornado. 55 people were killed and 435 others were injured. Total damage was $1.3 million dollars.


A 3-day long major ice storm was in progress over northern Idaho which produced an accumulation of ice 8 inches thick, a U.S. record. Heavy ice fog, which blanketed much of northern Idaho from Grangeville to the Canadian border, deposited ice on power and phone lines causing widespread power outages.


The barometer at Barrow, AK soared to a reading of 31.43 inHg.


The temperature reached a scorching 96° at Cotulla, TX, just two degrees shy of the U.S. record for January. Other locations in Texas that reported record highs for the date included: Corpus Christi: 88°, San Antonio: 86°, Austin (Bergstrom): 84° and Austin (Camp Mabry): 83°.


Heavy rain and snow began on this day and ended on the 5th across parts of southern California. One drowning death occurred near Temecula. Many highways were closed because of flooding and mud slides. Over 18 inches of snow fell in the San Bernardino Mountains. As a result, structures and a few roofs collapsed due to the weight of snow. Power lines and trees snapped. The high temperature in Las Vegas, NV was 32°, one of only 10 times that the temperature did not climb above the freezing mark.

A few locations from the Plains to the West Coast reported record low temperatures for the date including: Scottsbluff, NE: -24°, North Platte, NE: -23°, Denver, CO: -17°, Bishop, CA: -3°, Lewiston, ID: 0°-Tied, Las Vegas, NV: 12° and Borrego Springs, CA: 25°.

Boston, MA recorded their latest ever measurable snow into a winter season with 0.6 inches.


0.1 inches of snow fell at Billings, MT, the only measurable snowfall during the month; tying January 2006 as the least snowy January on record.


A 3 inch snowfall broke the record for this date at Little Rock, AR. The previous record was 2.5 inches in 1942. This snowfall is deeper than the amount of snow received during the entire year for 1986. The 1986 snowfall total was 2.7 inches.

A powerful Pacific coast storm blasted the western U.S. with high winds, heavy rain and heavy snow. Winds gusted to 96 mph at Cape Blanco, OR, and snowfall totals reached 20 inches in parts of the Sierra Nevada Range of California.


Both coasts were hit with winter storms, and the central U.S. was blasted with cold arctic air. Snow and ice in the eastern U.S. caused $4.5 million dollars damage to homes and vehicles in North Carolina. The storm in the western U.S. produced 2 feet of snow in the Lake Tahoe area of Nevada, and temperatures in North Dakota plunged to -30°, with wind chill readings as cold as -95°.


Many cities across the south and in Washington and Oregon reported record high temperatures for the date. Lake Charles, LA and Galveston, TX tied their record highs for January with 82° and 78° respectively.

Locations reporting daily record highs included: San Antonio, TX: 86°-Tied, Victoria, TX: 85°, Houston, TX: 83°, Del Rio, TX: 83°, Baton Rouge, LA: 81°, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 81°, New Orleans, LA: 80°, Mobile, AL: 79°, Phoenix, AZ: 79°, Tallahassee, FL: 78°, Denver, CO: 63°, Eugene, OR: 60°, Pendleton, OR: 60°-Tied, Portland, OR: 60°-Tied and Yakima, WA: 57°.


A winter storm in the southwestern U.S. spread snow across Colorado and New Mexico. Heavy snow fell in southwestern Colorado, with 13 inches reported at Wolf Creek Pass. Snow spread into the Central Plains Region during the day, with 6 inches reported at Garden City, KS.


The barometer at Canton, NY plummeted to 28.20 inHg, the lowest ever recorded at a non-coastal station in the U.S. An intense area of low pressure moving along the Appalachian Mountains caused record low barometer readings across the East.


A heavy wet snow blanketed much of the state of Ohio, with 12 to 18 inches reported in counties along the Ohio River. Newport received 21 inches. Thunder and lightning accompanied the snow, with 5 inches reported in Washington and Noble Counties in just one hour. Parts of Washington County were without electricity for 8 days following the storm.

High winds pummeled the eastern Foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Wind gusts to 99 mph were recorded on Squaw Mountain, south of Idaho Springs, 85 mph at Rocky Flats and 41 mph at the former Stapleton Airport in Denver. No significant damage was reported. .

A tornado touched down four times at Frostproof, FL in Polk County damaging cars, buildings, signs, and citrus trees. Windows were blown out of vehicles and stores. Brief tornado touchdowns were also reported in Alachua, Bradford, Baker, and Duval Counties.


Heavy rain started on this day and ended the next day resulting in flash flooding at Seal Beach, Norco, and Oceanside, CA. A mudslide killed six people at La Conchita near Santa Barbara. Six to 12 inches of snow fell in the mountains. Snow also fell in the high desert, with two inches of heavy, wet snow down to 2,300 feet.


The first in the series of snowstorms to strike the eastern U.S. over the next ten days was in progress over New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. Rochester, NY was buried under 23 inches of snow in 24 hours for the city's greatest 24 hour snowfall on record. 21 inches was recorded at Oswego, NY and 18 inches fell at Batavia, NY. Other snowfall totals included 16 inches at Milton, MA, 14 inches at Montpelier, VT, 13.3 inches at Montrose, PA and 13.1 inches at Boston, MA.

Central Illinois was affected by a major winter storm beginning on the 2nd through this date. The storm produced up to 8 inches of snow, and 30 to 40 mph winds created near whiteout conditions at times. Numerous minor accidents were reported across the region, although two accidents resulted in four serious injuries.

Moderate to occasional heavy snow moved across central, northeast, and east central Missouri. Two to four inches of snow fell with the greatest amounts along the Mississippi river in eastern Marion and Ralls Counties causing traffic and airport delays.

Very strong Chinook Winds gusted over 100 mph along the Colorado Front Range Foothills and portions of metro Denver. Structural damage, shattered auto windows, downed signs and power outages resulted. Some of the strongest wind gusts included: Boulder Municipal Airport: 104 mph, South Boulder: 98 mph, Jefferson County Airport: 96 mph, National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder: 94 mph, Rocky Flats Environmental Test Facility: 91 mph and Wondervu: 90 mph. Winds only gusted to 39 mph at Denver International Airport.


Major flooding continued in 6 western states as runoff from days of heavy rains and melting snow surged down rivers. A levee broke on the Feather and Yuba Rivers in California forcing thousands of residents from their homes in the middle of the night, many rescued by helicopter. 17 deaths resulted from the flooding

The greatest flood on record occurred at Yosemite Valley, CA. The Merced River crested at Pohono Bridge at 23.45 feet, an 80 year high. Extensive damage occurred to park trails, roads, sewer and water systems and housing totaling $178 million dollars in damage there alone.

A powerful area of low pressure and deep Arctic high pressure brought almost all winter elements to central and northeast South Dakota as well as west central Minnesota from the afternoon on this date to the morning of the 5th. The storm first began with widespread freezing rain, especially over northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota, where significant accumulations of ice occurred on roads, trees, and power lines. Late during the evening on this date, the freezing rain changed to sleet and then snow, with substantial snowfall accumulations of 6 to as much as 27 inches by late on the 4th. As the deep Arctic high pressure pushed in through the morning and afternoon of the 4th, northwest winds increased to 25 to 45 mph gusting to 55 mph creating widespread blizzard conditions, drifts up to 20 feet, and wind chills from -40° to -70°. The heavy accumulation of ice and snow across parts of central and mainly across northeast South Dakota resulted in the roof collapse of over 150, mainly rural, buildings. The collapse of so many buildings from snow and ice was believed to be the first in this area. On most other buildings, the snow had to be shoveled or blown off. One man was killed in west central Minnesota as he was trying to shovel snow off the roof of a building. A few homes during the storm were buried by the huge snow drifts near Lake Poinsett. Many power outages also occurred across parts of central and northeast South Dakota as power lines and poles were downed from the heavy ice accumulation. Some people were without power for several days in the extreme cold conditions.
At Aberdeen, SD heavy snow blocking a furnace exhaust vent, sent 3 family members to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, the snowmobile club, the drift busters were called upon for the first time in several years to deliver medicine, take patients to the hospital, and carry essential workers to work and home. Emergencies were difficult to respond to, taking many hours to short distances. Interstates 29 and 90 were both closed for a few days along with most state highways. Area airports were closed or flights were canceled or delayed. The heavy snowfall from this storm brought the widespread snowpack up to 2 to 5 feet. For the winter season so far, the area had record snowfall and record cold. Snowfall amounts of 1 to over 2 feet included, 27 inches at Wheaton, SD, 24 inches at Sisseton, SD, 22 inches at Britton, SD, 20 inches at Webster, SD, 18 inches at Faulkton, SD, 16 inches at Mellette and Browns Valley, MN, 15 inches at Ortonville MN, 14 inches at Pierre and Roscoe, SD, 13 inches at Selby and Aberdeen, SD and 12 inches at Eureka, and Redfield, SD.

Europe’s worst cold wave in 30 years continued to grip the continent for the 11th consecutive day. Over 200 deaths were blamed on the cold temperatures. Parts of the Thames River in England froze for the first time since the end of World War II.


A total of 78 vehicles piled-up in two areas on Highway 58 about 15 miles east-southeast of Bakersfield, CA due to dense fog. One person was killed and 15 others were injured.


Parts of the Deep South grounded to a standstill as a rare 2 day winter storm brought snow. Even the Weather Channel offices in Atlanta, GA were closed.


A record daily rainfall for January of 0.81 inches fell at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, NV.


Heavy snow blanketed Romania cutting power to hundreds of towns and villages, blocking roads and forcing Bucharest's two airports and some Black Sea ports to close. Snow accumulation reached 19 to 23 inches in places with snow drifts reached more than 6 feet.


A violent and deadly storm blasted across KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa killing 18 people, including a family of four who are struck by lightning inside their Ndwendwe home. More than 2,000 households were damaged by one of the worst storms in living memory. Damages included uprooted trees, collapsed roofs, and burst water mains.


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

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