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Weather History: July 15: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, snow, fire & floods

Meteorological events that happened on July 15th:


The first of three damaging tornadoes hit 7 miles north-northeast of Highmore, SD and moved to the northeast. Two small homes were destroyed before the funnel turned to the east, then northeast and north before lifting. This tornado was estimated to have F2 strength and was seen in all directions for 20 miles. The second tornado appeared to be motionless 3 miles east of Harrold, and then moved east to Holabird where it destroyed two homes and dissipated. A third tornado, this one with an estimated F3 strength, formed to the west of Highmore and moved east into town, then lifted about 4 miles east of town. Three homes were destroyed and about 20 other buildings were damaged at Highmore. A farmer was killed two miles east of town. Losses totaled about $55,000, which included many new buildings, including a church and a skating rink.


Marquette, MI set their all-time record high with 108°.


A dying South Atlantic Coast storm produced torrential rains in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Altapass, NC was drenched with 22.22 inches of rain, a 24 hour rainfall record for the state. Flooding resulted in considerable damage, particularly to railroads.


Perhaps the hottest night ever recorded in the U.S. outside of the desert Southwest, occurred at Lincoln, NE when the minimum temperature fell to only 91°. The citizens of that city spent the night outdoors trying to sleep on the lawn of the state capitol.

All-time record highs were set at Quincy, IL: 114°, Peoria, IL: 113°, Lincoln, IL: 113° and Rockford, IL: 112°. Champaign, IL hit 107°. This stood as their all-time record until 1954.


The temperature at Balcony Falls, VA soared to 110° to establish the state’s high temperature record. Roanoke, VA set their all-time high temperature record with 106°.


The highest ground temperature ever recorded was at Death Valley, CA: 201°. The air temperature at standard thermometer height that day peaked at 128°.


Thunderstorms caused 76 mph winds at Washington, D.C.’s National Airport and the highest since 98 mph winds were recorded in Hurricane Hazel in October 1954.


Minneapolis, MN was plagued by severe thunderstorms that produced hail and tornadoes. Nearly 100,000 people were without power. Damage totaled over $43 million dollars.

Memphis, TN set their all-time record high temperature record with 108°. Albany, GA also set their all-time record high with 107°.


Daytona Beach, FL set their all-time record high with 102°.


The Big Thompson Creek in Colorado flooded for the second time in seven years, claiming three lives, and filling the town of Estes Park with 8 to 10 feet of water.


Unseasonably cool weather spread into the south central and eastern U.S. Many cities reported record low temperatures for the date, including Houghton Lake, MI with a low of 37°. The high temperature for the date of 58° at Flint and Grand Rapids, MI was their coolest on record for July.


Many cities east of the Mississippi River reported record high temperatures for the date. Charleston, WV established an all-time record high with a reading of 103°, and Chicago, IL hit 102°; a record 5th day of 100° heat for the year. Jump River, WI set their July high temperature record with 98°.

A tornadic thunderstorm moved out of Omaha into southwest Iowa. Three tornadoes ripped through the northern part of Council Bluffs, IA injuring 88 people and damaging over 1,000 homes. There were 18 homes completely leveled and 21 apartments damaged. Numerous businesses in Council Bluffs were severely damaged. Outages from power line damage affected about 20,000 customers. One tornado blew a 40 car freight train off its tracks. Total damage was done to a 700 square block area in Council Bluffs totaling $43 million dollars.


Thunderstorms drenched Kansas City, MO with 4.16 inches of rain, a record for the date. 2.50 inches fell in just one hour.

Afternoon thunderstorms in South Carolina deluged Williamstown with 6 inches of rain in 90 minutes, including 4 inches in little more than 30 minutes.


A Mesoscale Convective Complex crossed the Adirondack Mountains and much of eastern New York during the early morning hours and bolted southeast, producing a very damaging derecho. The Adirondack Derecho was produced by thunderstorms which rose to heights of 70,000 feet, moved at forward speeds of 70 mph, produced winds to 106 mph and causing as many as 3,000 lightning strikes per hour. Across western New York, thunderstorm winds caused widespread damage, downing trees and wires. Hardest hit were the counties of Jefferson and Lewis where states of emergency were declared. In some cases, these structures were tossed hundreds of feet and debris was scattered over a half mile away. Permanent structures suffered considerable roof damage. Power was knocked out in all of Jefferson and Lewis counties for at least 12 hours, and in some cases, for days. The North Country was declared a disaster area by the Governor of New York State. Thousands of trees covering over one million acres were blown down in the Adirondacks. Five people were killed.

The temperature reached 106° at Danbury, CT, the state's hottest day on record while the heat index at Philadelphia, PA reached 130°.


22 of 26 reporting stations in Florida reported measurable rain with two inches at Lakeland and one inch at Fort Myers, giving firefighters some much needed assistance in their battle against wildfires.


Calgary, Alberta Canada dropped to 36.5° with snow flurries and winds gusting to 43 mph.


Seoul, South Korea recorded its heaviest rain since 1964 as 12.21” of rain fell at a rate of nearly 4 inches per hour. 40 people were killed.


The Phoenix Sky Harbor in Arizona recorded a record low maximum temperature of 96°. This is the highest low temperature in Phoenix’s history.

A rock face on the Matterhorn in Switzerland collapsed due to melting ice at a height of 11,220 feet.


An intense thunderstorm deluges the Peterborough area in Ontario Canada during the early morning hours. Official rainfall totals range from 3.94 inches at the airport to 9.45 inches at Trent University, most of the rain fell in less than five hours.


Kelly Ranch/Usta set South Dakota’s all-time high temperature record with 120°. Pierre and Rapid City, SD sets their new all-time daily maximum temperature records with 117° and 111° respectively. Chadron, NE also set their all-time record high with 112°. Alliance, NE reported their second hottest day on record with 107°. Denver, CO set daily record highs on this date and the 16th with 101° and 103° respectively.


Extreme temperatures across central Hungary reached historic levels as temperatures peaked as high as 107°. Hungarian health officials blame the heat for the deaths of 500 sick or elderly people.


Frigid polar air moved north from the Antarctic over South America sending the thermometer to depths not experienced for decades. In Buenos Aires, Argentenia, the overnight low temperature dropped to 29°.


Powerful tornadoes killed at least one person and injure another 10 at Kujawy-Pomorze and Wielkopolska, Poland. As many as 100 homes were damaged.


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Houston, TX area weather & the weekly Weather America Newsletter with Larry Cosgrove at

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