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Weather History: January 30: Record temps, storms, ice, snow, wind & flooding

Meteorological events that happened on January 30th:


The "Washington and Jefferson Snowstorm" ended. George Washington reported three feet of snow at Mount Vernon, and Thomas Jefferson recorded three feet. Jefferson wrote, “The deepest snow we have ever seen". The storm started on the 26th and continued to fall on the 27th with a stiff, northerly wind. The snow fell without abating until the 29th when there was a break, only to begin again that evening and then finally ended on the 30th.


A great snowstorm hit central New York, setting modern records. Syracuse received 27 inches of snow.


Birmingham, AL established a single storm and 24-hour record with 11 inches of snow.


A large arctic high pressure center moved south from Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and brought snow to parts of north Florida. Locations that reported all-time record lows included: Medford, WI: -48°, Sparta, WI: -48°, Richland Center, WI: -46°, Mondovi, WI: -45°, Trempealeau, WI: -44°, Genoa, WI: -43°, Lynxville, WI: -43°, Mather, WI: -43°, Wisconsin Dells, WI: -43°, Decorah, IA: -43°, Guttenberg, IA: -43°, Owen, WI: -42°, Fayette, IA: -38°, Prairie du Chien, WI: -37° and Oelwein, IA: -30°.

Platteville, IA fell to a January record low of -30°. Grand Rapids, MI set their all-time record January low of -22° (later tied on 1/19/1994). Baldwin, MI plunged to -37°.


Heavy rain, hail, lightning and a rare tornado struck the White Point Beach area of Liverpool, Nova Scotia Canada. Debris was strewn over a half mile away.


The Blizzard of 1966 temporarily isolated Buffalo, NY and paralyzed the region. Train service was disrupted. Numerous highways, the New York State Thruway from Albany to the Pennsylvania state line, and the Buffalo Airport as well as other airports throughout western and central New York were closed. Hardest hit was the Syracuse-Oswego area. 100 inches of snow was reported at Oswego, NY. Some schools in Orleans County were closed for the entire week following the blizzard. Economic loss from the storm was estimated at $35 million dollars. Winds gusting to 60 mph and temperatures in the teens along with heavy and blowing snow created severe blizzard conditions.

Behind the blizzard, three states set all-time record low temperature records: In Alabama; New Market with -27°, in Mississippi: Corinth with -19° and in North Carolina: Mt. Mitchell with -29° (later broken on 1/21/1985).


34 inches of snow was on the ground at Eugene, OR as the state dug out from five days of record snows. Drifts up to 12 feet high blocked some roads.

Fresno, CA recorded 0.04 inches of rain, bringing the total to 8.56 inches for the month. This made January 1969 the wettest month ever at Fresno. In all, there were 22 days of recorded precipitation.


A wind gust of 102 mph was recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research at Boulder, CO. Elsewhere in Boulder, winds gusted as high as 76 mph. Cheyenne, WY reported a gust of 70 mph and the former Stapleton Airport in Denver, CO reported a top wind gust of 46 mph.


The great "Buffalo Blizzard" finally abated after three days. The storm added a foot of new snow to 33 inches already on the ground. Winds gusting to 75 mph reduced visibilities to near zero, produced snow drifts up to 25 feet high, and kept wind chill readings frequently down to -50°. The blizzard paralyzed the city and caused $250 million dollars in damage as one of the coldest January's on record in the eastern U.S. came to a close.


On this date through the 31st, coatings of ice up to three inches thick snapped power lines and toppled utility poles throughout the snow belt region across western New York. An estimated 5,000 homes and businesses were without power in Chautauqua and Erie Counties. Hardest hit were the communities of Franklinville, Ellicottville, Otto, East Otto, Collins, North Collins, Eden, Concord, Boston, Perrysburg, New Albion, Fredonia, and Forestville. A State of Emergency was declared in Chautauqua County to help in the recovery.

A winter storm that started on this day and ended on the 31st spread 2 to 4 inches of rainfall in 24 hours over much of coastal Southern California, and two inches of snow at Palm Springs. Golf ball size hail and widespread snow was also reported during the storm. Flooding occurred along Silver Strand highway, in Fashion Valley, also in Spring Valley, Lemon Grove, Lakeside and Carlsbad. Lake Hodges overflowed.

A few locations reported record low temperatures for the date including: Ely, NV: -20°, Flagstaff, AZ: -19°, Big Bear Lake, CA: -9°, Salt Lake City, UT: -6°, Winslow, AZ: 0°, Idyllwild, CA: 10°, Palomar Mountain, CA: 15° and Tucson, AZ: 25°-Tied.


A winter storm brought more heavy snow to the North Atlantic Coast, with 13.6 inches reported at Hiram, ME. January proved to be the snowiest on record for much of Massachusetts. Worcester, MA reported an all-time monthly record of 46.8 inches of snow.


Strong southerly winds, gusting to 53 mph at Kansas City, MO, spread warm air into the central U.S.

Snow and strong northwest winds ushered cold arctic air into the north central states. The temperature at Cutbank, MT plunged from 54° to a morning low of -7°.


The temperature at McGrath, AK dipped to -62°, and Fairbanks reported a low of -51° with unofficial readings in the area as low as -75°. Locations that reported record lows for the date included: Bettles: -64°, Bethel: -35°, Homer: -13°-Tied and Cold Bay: 1°. The massive dome of bitterly cold Siberian air began to slide down western Canada toward the north central U.S. Strong southwest winds ahead of the arctic front pushed the temperature at Great Falls, MT to 62° and winds gusted to 124 mph at Choteau, MT, overturning trucks, mobile homes, and a dozen empty railroad cars.


A major winter storm produced heavy snow from Indiana to New England. It was the biggest storm in two and a half years for eastern New York State. Snowfall totals in the mountains of Maine ranged up to 20 inches at Guilford and Lovell. Other heavy snowfall totals included: 19 inches at New London, NH, Bethel & Ludlow, VT and 17 inches at Utica, NY. The storm claimed three lives in eastern New York State and four lives in Vermont.


Sault Ste. Marie, MI broke their seasonal snowfall record on this date as 6.4 inches fell, bringing the total for the year to 180 inches. This easily broke the old record of 178.6 inches set in 1976-77.


A Pacific storm moved into central California and deposited a substantial amount of snow over the southern Sierra in a short period. A weather spotter in Aspendell, elevation 8,500 feet reported 9 inches of new snow in a little more than five hours. Other snow-burst totals included: 13 inches at Tuolumne Meadows and 10 inches at Lodgepole in less than 12 hours.


Widespread freezing rain, accumulating from 1/8 to 1/2 inch, changed over to snow late in during the evening on the 29th continuing through this date. The snow accumulated from 6 to 13 inches over much of central and northeast South Dakota as well as west central Minnesota. The combination of ice and snow caused significant travel problems, school and flight cancellations and delays, business closings, and numerous vehicle accidents. Several highways were closed along with large portions of Interstates 29 and 90.


The 6/10 of an inch of snow that fell at the Tucson International Airport in Arizona was their first measurable snow in 11 years. Some heavily traveled roads in the Tucson Metro area were closed the following morning as black ice formed on bridges and overpasses.

Further north, a very cold, but unofficial reading of -62° was recorded at Middle, UT. The official all-time record low temperature for the state of Utah is -69° set at Peter’s Sink on 2/1/1985.

A widespread area of freezing rain and snow affected the southern Plains and Midwest. Kansas City, MO and Oklahoma City, OK were especially hard hit. In Oklahoma, the hardest hit areas extended from near Ponca City, Perry, and Stillwater, south and west through Enid, Kingfisher, Guthrie, Binger, and Weatherford. Some of the smaller towns and rural residents were without power for weeks. Damage totaled over $300 million dollars. It was reported to be the worst ice storm in 120 years at Kansas City. A foot of snow fell at Chicago, IL. Ice accumulations of 1/4 to 1/2 inch were common across Fulton, southern Peoria, Mason, Tazewell, Woodford, and McLean Counties across central Illinois. Around a 1/2 inch of ice accumulated across Woodford County, with local one inch amounts of ice near Eureka. Just to the north, 6 to 9 inches of snow accumulated across Knox, Stark, Marshall, and northern Peoria Counties along with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice. Several trees and power lines were downed from ice accumulations across Peoria and surrounding counties, with power outages lasting from several hours to a couple of days.

The high temperature at Washington D.C. was 77°; a new record for the date and only two degrees shy of the all time record high for the month of January set on 1/26/1950. The 77 degree reading was 34 degrees above the normal high of 43°.


Locations across parts of southern California and the southwest reported record high temperatures thanks to an offshore flow courtesy of surface high pressure across the Great Basin including: Riverside, CA: 88°, Long Beach, CA: 85°, Borrego Springs, CA: 85°, Santa Maria, CA: 80°, Idyllwild, CA: 73°, Victorville, CA: 72°, Big Bear Lake, CA: 67° and Redding, CA: 66°.

The temperature fell to -22° at Peterborough, Ontario Canada setting a new record low for the date.


The temperature at Grand Forks, ND plunged to -43°, tying their record low for the month of January.

A rare 2-inch snowfall closed schools in the north-central Mexican town of Zacatecas.


Rain changed to snow as an arctic cold front brought a flash freeze to lower Michigan during the previous, leaving a sheet of ice on the roads. Temperatures fall from the upper 40s to the single digits, with occasional blinding white-out conditions in falling and blowing snow. There were numerous traffic accidents and some roads were closed. School and event cancellations were widespread along with sporadic power outages.

Strong winds following the passage of a cold front caused the Lake Erie water level to substantially rise from Ripley to Buffalo, NY. The high water levels and waves to 12 to 16 feet resulted in erosion of the lake shore and significant flooding at the extreme eastern end of the lake. Roads along the lake shore were water covered or closed because of spray. Flood waters inundated the West Side of Buffalo with entire neighborhoods under water. The Lake Erie water level rose 11 feet, above its 8 foot flood stage for over three hours, and peaked at 11.06 feet above. This was the second highest lake level on record.

A powerful cold front crossed western New York and was followed by very strong west to southwest winds. Sustained winds increased to 30 to 45 mph with gusts measured to 80 mph at the peak of the storm. Trees and power lines were downed by the strong winds. Utility companies reported close to 100,000 customers without power. Several homes and automobiles were damaged by falling trees and limbs. On Grand Island, the roof a manufacturing company sustained significant damage. The Buffalo Airport was closed between 8:30 am and noon with over half of its scheduled flights canceled for the day. In downtown Buffalo, a building from the 1850s that had been damaged in an earlier January windstorm, sustained further damage and was deemed unsafe and had to be demolished. The New York State Thruway was closed from Henrietta to Depew because of blowing snow and whiteout conditions. Two tractor trailers were blown over on the Thruway. In Irondequoit, the steeple of a church was blown down.

A winter storm affecting the Middle East covered Jerusalem with a blanket of up to 8 inches of snow. At the same time, Amman, Jordan, received about a foot of snow.


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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