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Weather History: January 6: Record temps, storms, snow, ice, wind & tropics

Meteorological events that happened on January 6th:


A major snowstorm finally came to a close across the Mid-Atlantic States into southern New England. 18 inches of snow fell at Philadelphia, PA, 14 inches at New York City, NY and 12 inches at Washington, D.C.


Thoreau’s “long and snowy winter” continued with the season’s deepest snowfall. 18 inches fell at Providence, RI and 12 inches of snow fell at Boston, MA.


Seattle, WA experienced its greatest snowstorm in history. Up to 4 feet of snow fell, destroying buildings and bringing transportation to a halt.


The temperature dipped to -1° at Atlanta, GA. It marked the final day of a severe arctic outbreak in the South and Midwest. Other record low temperatures for the date included: Fargo, ND: -33°, Bismarck, ND: -32°, Peoria, IL: -21°, Moline, IL: -20°, Columbus, OH: -20°, Indianapolis, IN: -20°, Knoxville, TN: -16°, Chicago, IL: -14°, Louisville, KY: -14°, Toledo, OH: -14°, Springfield, IL: -12°, St. Louis, MO: -11°, Nashville, TN: -10°, Lansing, MI: -10°-Tied, Cleveland, OH: -9°, Cincinnati, OH: -6°, Detroit, MI: -3°, Memphis, TN: -2°, Boston, MA: 0°, Washington, D.C.: 2°, Charlotte, NC: 5°, Little Rock, AR: 6°, Wilmington, NC: 9°, Norfolk, VA: 10°, Pensacola, FL: 16°, Savannah, GA: 18°, Jacksonville, FL: 21° and Brownsville, TX: 25°.


The “Great Blizzard of 1886” struck the Midwest without warning. High winds, subzero temperatures and heavy snowfall caused as many as 100 deaths and 80% of the cattle in the state of Kansas.


A tornado destroyed five homes at Winter Garden, FL. A woman was killed when her home turned completely upside down and fell on her. Five people were injured.


The coldest weather on record gripped San Diego County on this day and on the 7th. In San Diego, the morning low temperature on this day was a record low 28° and the high temperature was an all-time record low maximum of 45°. A killing freeze occurred all over San Diego County and many crops and fruit were lost. Water pipes were frozen, trolley lines were disrupted and fishing nets were made unusable. There was ice skating in a San Diego fountain on ice three quarters of an inch thick. Fresno, CA dropped to an all-time low of 17°. Locations reporting daily record lows for the date included: Cheyenne, WY: -26°, Colorado Springs, CO: -26° (broke previous record by 16 degrees), Lander, WY: -24°, Pueblo, CO: -18°, El Paso, TX: 11°, Bakersfield, CA: 16°, Phoenix, AZ: 17°, Austin, TX: 18°, Winslow, AZ: 24° and Downtown, Los Angeles, CA: 30°.


A major snowstorm hit parts of the Midwest. Officially Chicago, IL recorded 14.4 inches of snow with 1.44 inches of liquid equivalent. This established a new daily precipitation record. This contributed to January 1918 as having the greatest monthly snowfall with a total of 42.5 inches, nearly four times their monthly average. This storm gave Rockford, IL on of their largest snow amounts ever recorded. A record 16.3 inches blanketed the town, their greatest single storm total. This contributed to their snowiest January on record with 36.1 inches just 0.2 inches shy of an entire normal winter season.


A severe northwesterly gale pushed a strong storm surge down the coast of the North Sea. Combining with a high tide in the Thames estuary, the surge caused severe flooding in the London area, leaving thousands homeless.


Cold high pressure brought record lows to parts of the West including: Victorville, CA: 5°, Bishop, CA: 6°, Idyllwild, CA: 9°, Stockton, CA: 21°, Santa Ana, CA: 22°, Riverside, CA: 24°, Sacramento, CA: 24°, Palm Springs, CA: 26°, San Francisco Airport, CA: 29°, Long Beach, CA: 30° and Los Angeles (LAX), CA; 34°.


Snow, strong winds, and sub-zero temperatures along with near blizzard conditions caused hazardous driving conditions across parts of the northern Plains through the 9th. Snowfall totals of 2 to 6 inches with winds of 30 to 40 mph caused widespread low visibilities along with drifts up to 4 foot high across central and northeast South Dakota.


A Chinook wind at Pincher Creek, Alberta Canada sent the temperature soaring 38° in just 4 minutes.


A tornado outbreak hit parts of west-central Florida during the morning hours. Five trailers overturned and power & telephone lines were downed at Apollo Beach, FL in Hillsborough County. Other tornadoes touched down in Ruskin, Lakeland, Bartow, Mulberry, and Avon Park. A total of six tornadoes caused five injuries and fortunately no fatalities.

AN upper level trough combined with surface high pressure brought record cold from the Rockies to the West Coast. Locations that reported record low temperatures included: Alamosa, CO: -27°, Waterloo, IA: -26°, Dubuque, IA: -23°, Springfield, IL: -14°, Fort Wayne, IN: -12°-Tied, Denver, CO: -10°, Winslow, AZ: -7°, Clayton, NM: -3°, Paducah, KY: -2°-Tied, Midland-Odessa, TX: 13°, San Antonio, TX: 22°, Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 25°, Lake Charles, LA: 26° and Corpus Christi, TX: 31°.


A deep upper level trough combined with surface high pressure produced record low temperatures from the Rockies to West Coast including: Alamosa, CO: -40° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), Ely, NV: -24°, Denver, CO: -16°, Winslow, AZ: -15°, Grand Junction, CO: -14°, Albuquerque, NM: -12°, Clayton, NM: -8°, Salt Lake City, UT: -6°, Lubbock, TX: 0°, El Paso, TX: 11°-Tied, Las Vegas, NV: 12°-Tied, Palomar Mountain, CA: 15° and Santa Maria, CA: 26°.


Ice, snow, and cold temperatures covered much of Oklahoma. A layer of ice was covered by as much as 9 inches of snow at Oklahoma City. Even walking became dangerous, as several hundred injuries throughout the area were attributed to traffic accidents and slips on the ice. Over central Oklahoma, temperatures stayed below freezing for as much as 10 consecutive days. Due to the extreme length of below freezing temperatures, some locations kept at least 1 inch of snow on the ground for 14 days.

A few locations across the West reported record low temperatures for the date including: Casper, WY: -21°, Salt Lake City, UT: -7°, Bishop, CA: 5°, Seattle, WA: 15°, Quillayute, WA: 17° and Santa Maria, CA: 23°.


All 50 states had at least one location that was below freezing on this date, an unusual occurrence.


A storm moving across the western U.S. spread heavy snow into the Central Rockies. Casper, WY received 14 inches of snow in 24 hours, a January record for that location. Big Piney, WY reported 17 inches of snow.


One of the largest snowfall episodes this century for the southern U.S. was in full swing. The storm, occurring from the 5th to the 8th, produced heavy snow from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Virginia. This was the largest snowstorm this century for the state of Arkansas. Heber Springs, AR checked in with 16 inches of snow claiming the lives of 3.5 million chickens, and snow and ice up to three inches thick claimed the lives of another 1.75 million chickens in north central Texas. Up to 18 inches of snow blanketed Oklahoma, with Oklahoma City reporting a record 12 inches of snow in 24 hours. Up to 20 inches was reported in Macon County in western North Carolina. Sleet and freezing rain paralyzed areas along the southern perimeter of the snowfall zone with one inch ice accumulations reported in northern Alabama.

Locations from the Plains to the East Coast reported record low temperatures for the date including: Kennebec, SD: -37°, Huron, SD: -37°, Sioux Falls, SD: -29°, Valentine, NE: -27°, Pierre, SD: -26°, Rockford, IL: -19°, Marquette, MI: -16°, Chicago, IL: -14°-Tied, Grand Rapids, MI: -12°, Elkins, WV: -12°, Binghamton, NY: -2°, Youngstown, OH: -2°, Jackson, KY: 1°, Bridgeport, CT: 8°, Newark, NJ: 8°, Islip, NY: 8°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 9°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 10° and Wallops Island, VA: 13°.


A blizzard ripped through south central and southeastern Idaho. Strong winds, gusting to 60 mph at the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, whipped the snow into drifts 5 feet high, and produced wind chill readings as cold as -35°. The blizzard prompted an Idaho Falls air controller to remark that "the snow is blowing so hard you can't see the fog".

Further east across the upper Midwest, heavy snowfall of 8 to 12 inches with local amounts of 24 to 26 inches fell in northern Minnesota the 6th through the 8th. The heavy snow was followed by an Arctic intrusion which brought in 35 to 50 mph winds. This caused a shutdown the Red River Valley. Snowdrifts were from 5 to 10 feet in some areas. Roads had to be closed. The strong winds caused near-blizzard conditions along with extremely low wind chills.


Rain and gale force winds prevailed along the Northern Pacific Coast. Winds at Astoria, OR gusted to 65 mph.

Unseasonably warm weather prevailed over Florida courtesy of upper level high pressure offshore. A few cities reported record high temperatures for the date, including Miami with a reading of 86°. Vero Beach and Orlando reached 85° and 84° respectively. The hot spot in the nation was West Palm Beach with a high of 87°.


The Milwaukee, WI area endured their 11th consecutive day without sunshine. This broke the old record of 10 consecutive days from 11//22 to 12/1/1985.


A nearly continuous 5-day snowstorm brought a record 23.3 inches of snow to Salt Lake City, UT, and left a record 26 inches of snow on the ground. A state of emergency was declared.

A very wet series of storms that began on this day and ended on the 18th across southern California produced 20 to 50 inches of precipitation in the mountains and up to 12 inches at lower elevations over a two week period. It was one of the longest periods of consecutive days of rain on record (13) and measurable rain fell nearly every day from 1/2 to 1/19. Flooding and flash flooding, mud slides, etc., resulted. This day marked the start of 14 consecutive days of measurable precipitation in Santa Ana, Escondido and Big Bear Lake which ended on 1/19, the most on record.


Big snows blitzed the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. Alta was buried under 55.5 inches of snow in 24 hours, setting a new 24 hour snowfall record for the location. Over 70 inches fell from the 4th through the 6th.


A warm front helped to cause a heavy snow event across southwest and central Iowa. Snowfall amounts were generally from 6 to 8 inches across a 60-mile wide band extending from south of the Council Bluffs area through Des Moines to between Marshalltown and Waterloo. The Des Moines airport received 8.1 inches of snow, with 7.8 inches reported at Ankeny. Following the snowfall, an arctic cold front dropped southeast across the state. The winds were gusty in the wake of the front, gusting at times to 30 to 40 mph in northwest Iowa.

Across East-Central Missouri, a period of freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet caused glazing with accumulations from one-quarter to three-quarters inch. The layer of ice left roads hazardous; resulting in hundreds of accidents including parts of Interstate 70 being shut-down for a short time.


“The Blizzard of 96” began clobbering the major cities of the Northeast setting many new snowfall records. Travel in New York was impossible, where 20 inches of snow fell in Central Park, making it the 3rd biggest snowfall ever there. Other notable record accumulations included 30.7 inches in Philadelphia, PA; 27.8 inches Newark, NJ, 24.9 inches in Roanoke, VA and 14.4 inches as far away as Cincinnati, OH. The snowfall at Dulles Airport accumulated to 24.6 inches while National Airport measured 17.1 inches. Other snowfall totals included 25.7 inches in Rockville, MD, 22.5 inches in Baltimore, MD and 21 inches in Fredericksburg, VA. Generally snowfall amounts between Washington D.C. and Boston, MA were between 17 to 30 inches. The snow bands were accompanied by lightning, thunder and whiteout conditions at times. 100 people died in the storm and damage totaled $2 billion. The blizzard of 1996 was just the first of three snowstorms to hit the Mid-Atlantic during the snowy week of 1/7 to 1/12. On the 9th an Alberta clipper storm center passed directly over the Mid-Atlantic region, dropping another quick shot of snowfall totaling 1 to 6 inches. The third and final snow took place on the 12th as a quick moving coastal storm dropping 5 to 12 inches of snow across the Mid-Atlantic. In the Baltimore–Washington area, on January 18th there was an extremely rapid thaw brought on by temperatures in the lower 60s along with high dew point temperatures and heavy rain. A foot of snow melted in about 8 hours during the night. Many grassy areas appeared in the morning and snow piles that were left appeared to be “steaming” in high dew point temperatures. This sudden melt of snow sent the Potomac River surging out of its banks. The Potomac River approached levels not seen since flooding caused by Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. Also many small streams and creeks caused flooding from the rain and the extremely quick snow melt.

Many locations also reported record low temperatures for the date including: Syracuse, NY: -24° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Burlington, VT: -23°, Albany, NY: -19°, Alpena, MI: -16°, Buffalo, NY: -10°, Binghamton, NY: -7°, Erie, PA: -3°, Providence, RI: 1°-Tied, Bridgeport, CT: 2°, Newark, NJ: 6°, Islip, NY: 6°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 8° and New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 9°-Tied.


Heavy snow piled up on top of the snow dropped during the blizzard a few days earlier across parts of Michigan. Another 9 inches of snow at Muskegon, MI brings the snow total on the ground to 30 inches, with snow drifts several feet high. This would be the snowiest January on record at Grand Rapids, MI with 46.8 inches and Lansing with 34.6 inches.

A few locations up and down the East Coast reported record low temperatures for the date including: Caribou, ME: -20°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 4°-Tied, Wallops Island, VA: 13°-Tied, Savannah, GA: 17°, Charleston, SC: 17°, Gainesville, FL: 19°, Daytona Beach, FL: 30°, Tampa, FL: 30°, Orlando, FL: 31° and Vero Beach, FL: 32°.


On this date through the 7th, the largest snowstorm in 6 years struck Charlottetown, Prince Edward island, Canada dropping 17 inches of snow blown into huge drifts with winds gusting to 44 mph.

Temperatures plummet to a record -70°in the Kemerovo region of western Siberia, while temperatures in much of the rest of Russia east of the Ural Mountains shiver around -40°.


National Airport in Washington, DC recorded its first trace of snow for this winter season, their latest first snow on record for the location.

Welcome rains fell on parts of New South Wales in Australia where 20,000 fire fighters had been battling bushfires since Christmas Eve. Dubbed the Black Christmas Fires, the wildfires burned over 1.2 million acres. Many of the fires were believed to have been intentionally set and arrests were made.

A father and son fishing on a sand bar along the English coast drowned when a thick fogbank suddenly overspread their position, disorienting them. The father called frantically for help on his cell phone as the incoming tide began to engulf them. The pair drowned within earshot of rescuers.

Snow fell in Athens, Greece for the first time since 1992 beginning on the 4th ending on this date. The snow accumulated 1 to 2 inches in the city and 4 inches at the Acropolis. Some Aegean islands were also affected by snow and gale force winds. On this date the low temperature at Athens fell to 28° and the high was just 35° compared to the normal of 55°, while in Souda on Crete the low and high was just 33° and 38° respectively. The average January high there is 61°. It wasn't just cold in Greece though; in Italy, Rome and Naples dropped to lows of 23° and 27° respectively the previous morning.


A Continental Airlines Express Jet with 51 people onboard slid off the end of a runway at Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, OH during a snowstorm, causing the nose gear to collapse. Fortunately, no one was injured. Five inches of snow fell at Cleveland during the quick storm.

Widespread Santa Ana winds blew on this day and ended on the 7th across southern California. A gust of 100 mph was measured at Fremont Canyon, 90 mph at Ontario, 80 mph at Upland, 72 mph at Trabuco Canyon, 70 mph at Riverside and 58 mph at Miramar. Two people died and 11 others were injured. Widespread property damage resulted, as well as road closures, power outages, downed trees, wildfires and crop damage.

Locations reporting record high temperatures for the date included: Borrego Springs, CA: 83°, Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 77°, Redding, CA: 73°, Eureka, CA: 69°, San Francisco Airport, CA: 66°, Astoria, OR: 63° and Quillayute, WA: 57°.


On this date through the 8th, the worst snow and ice storm in a decade blasted Portland, OR. The airport remained closed for three days as thick ice coated runways, stranding thousands of passengers. Many roads and highways were closed because of ice, accidents, downed trees and power lines.

A few locations across the central states reported record lows for the date including: Helena, MT: -32°, Scottsbluff, NE: -29°, Missoula, MT: -23° and Wichita Falls, TX: 7°.


Two weather systems moved out of the southwestern United States affecting areas from the mid Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley with heavy snowfall from the afternoon of the 4th through the early morning on this date. The first system brought snow to mainly northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin on the 4th spreading northward by the 5th. The second system, right on the heels of the first, continued the snowfall on the 5th and spread further north by the afternoon. By late on the 5th, many areas over northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin had already accumulated 5 to 7 inches of snow. By morning on this date, a storm total snow band of 15 to 17 inches was located from west of Dubuque, IA to west of Waterloo, IA. Amounts decreased northward with the I-90 corridor receiving about 4 to 5 inches and 6 to 9 inches across central Wisconsin. Some of the more significant snow totals from the storm: Oelwein, IA: 17 inches, Edgewood, IA: 13.5 inches, Fayette, IA: 13.1 inches, Volga, IA: 12.6 inches, Cassville, WI: 11.5 inches, Elkader, IA: 11.3 inches, New Hampton, IA: 10.5 inches, Decorah, IA: 10.3 inches, Cuba City, WI: 10.5 inches and Victory, WI: 10 inches. This system brought significant icing to much of central Illinois, with ice accumulations of a quarter to a half inch common. There were numerous reports of downed trees and power lines, as well as numerous traffic accidents. A half to 3 inches of ice accumulated across Grant County, Indiana causing major power outages and trees snapping under the weight of the ice. 100 power poles snapped making the total without power around 120,000 residents. There were 4 deaths due to this storm


In the Central Atlantic, Tropical Storm Zeta weakened to below tropical storm strength, thus ending the infamous and record setting 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Zeta, which developed in the last days of December 2005, was the unprecedented 27th named storm of that season. A 28th storm would be later named that developed October 4th about 740 miles southwest of the Azores.


The “Pineapple Express” brought mild temperatures and torrential rain to the Pacific Northwest, melting snowpack from the previous month's record snowstorms and causing massive flooding, mudslides, and avalanches across the state of Washington. A number of precipitation records are set. Seattle, WA received a record 2.29 inches of rain at the Sea-Tac Airport, and at Olympia a record 4.82 inches of rain fell. More than 30,000 people are encouraged to evacuate their homes due to flooding. Roads and railway connections are cut as highway officials close a 20-mile stretch of I-5 and Amtrak passenger service out of Seattle is suspended. Several cities declared a civil emergency. The Snoqualmie River at Carnation reached its highest recorded levels: 61.5 feet or 7.5 feet above flood stage on January 7. The National Weather Service estimated damages at $125 million.

Germany shivered through their coldest night of the winter with a low temperature of -18° recorded in the eastern state of Saxony.


Check out my colleague Weather Examiners:

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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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