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Weather History: July 17: Record temps, storms, snow, tropics, wind & flooding

Listed are Meteorological events that happened on July 17th:


One of the worst heat waves in the history of the nation commenced. During the last two weeks of the month extreme heat claimed 679 lives in Michigan, including 300 in Detroit alone.


A prolonged heat wave over Washington State finally came to an end. Lightning from untimely thunderstorms was responsible for 598 forest fires.


Early morning excessive rain deluged parts of north-central Pennsylvania. A total of 30.80 inches fell in 4.5 hours along parts of the Pennsylvania/New York border. 15 people were killed damage was set at $10 million dollars. Smethport, PA received 34.3 inches in a 24-hour period, setting the state record.


Col. James Duckworth became the first person to fly an airplane into a hurricane. Duckworth took his AT-6 trainer right into the eye of a category 1 hurricane off the Texas coast.


Thunderstorms helped the temperature at Key West, FL to dip to 69°, to equal their July record established on 7/1/1923.


On a warm and sunny day at Wilmington DE, with a high of 86°, a dust devil suddenly appeared. It tore the roof off one house, and stripped shingles from a neighboring house. A TV aerial was toppled, and clothes were blown off clothes lines.


Severe thunderstorms ripped across southwest sections of South Dakota. One storm which dumped hail larger than golf balls and had winds which exceeded 80 mph was labeled as one of the most destructive to strike several western counties. Bennett County alone lost 20,000 acres and 600,000 bushels of unharvested winter wheat. The storms also did considerable property damage. Total price tag for the storms was near $28 million dollars.


Severe thunderstorm winds ripped a 10,000 square foot hole in a 90 foot high pavilion at Sea World in Orlando, FL. The storm panicked a crowd of 550 tourists. One death occurred due to injury and heart attack and 15 people were injured. The canopy was made of fiberglass and Teflon, designed to withstand 120 mph winds.


Corpus Christi, TX set a record high of 99° and also a record low of 70°.


An F1 tornado touched down, 10 miles east of Raymond, SD destroying two cattle sheds and several buildings. A garage was moved off its foundation. Heavy rains, strong winds and hail up to 2.75 inches in diameter produced considerable damage to farm buildings between Raymond and Garden City. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches caused additional crop losses from erosion. A thunderstorm near Kennebec produced wind gusts to 80 mph and small hail was observed. A few trees were uprooted and numerous branched were downed. Several car windows were broke from wind and small hail. A half inch of rain fell in 10 minutes, filling ditches. A damage path from wind and hail continued to Clear Lake, to south of Gary and into Minnesota to the east of Canby. Winds gusted to 70 mph and hail ranged from one to almost two inches in diameter. In Clear Lake, four businesses were damaged and power poles were downed. One building had the fiberglass siding and roofing torn off. A second building had a metal roof blown off. Highway 77, south of Clear Lake was impassable due to hail on the ground.


Slow moving thunderstorms caused flooding on the Guadalupe River in Texas resulting in tragic loss of life. A bus and van leaving a summer youth camp stalled near the rapidly rising river, just west of the town of Comfort, and a powerful surge of water swept away 43 people killing 10. Most of the others were rescued from tree tops by helicopter.

An unseasonable cold core upper level storm system produced snow showers across the higher elevations of Yosemite National Park in California with up to 4 inches in some areas.

Further south, measurable rain was reported down to San Diego.


Several cities in the eastern U.S., and others in California, reported record high temperatures for the date. Downtown San Francisco CA, with a high of 103°, obliterated their previous record high of 82°. Philadelphia, PA reported a record five straight days of 100 degree heat, and Baltimore, MD reported a record eight days of 100 degree weather for the year.


Thunderstorms produced severe weather from South Dakota to Louisiana, with 126 reports of large hail and damaging winds during the day and night. Thunderstorms in Nebraska produced hail four inches in diameter in Frontier County, and at North Platte, causing millions of dollars damage to crops in Frontier County. Thunderstorms in Oklahoma produced wind gusts to 90 mph at Peggs. Tahlequah, OK was drenched with 5.25 inches of rain.


Heavy rains of 3 to 7 inches fell in Grant County, South Dakota resulting in the overflow of Lake Farley into the city of Milbank. The dam held, but an emergency dike broke during the evening releasing water into residential streets and a trailer court in Milbank. This forced evacuation of at least 200 people. Damage included 120 mobile homes and 26 houses being affected by floodwaters. In addition, a man died when his pickup truck hit a wash out on a gravel road south of Milbank and was swept into the floodwaters of a nearby creek.

All-time monthly record rainfall established already at Concordia, KS as rainfall records continued to fall across the Midwest during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1993. Total rainfall so far was 13.26”; this broke the old record of 11.19”. On this date, two inches of rain fell in 12 minutes in parts of Montgomery County, Iowa. 12 inches fell in just three hours near Bamboo, WI.


Atlanta, GA experienced 14 days in a row with rain; tying a record. The entire month of July had 17.71 inches, the wettest month ever in the Georgia capital.


Tropical Storm Danny strengthened in the Gulf of Mexico off of the Louisiana Coast and moved slowly toward land. This marked only the third time in 126 years that four tropical storms had formed so early in the season (1886, 1959 were the other years). The storm would eventually stall over Mobile Bay, dumping incredible amounts of rain on the Alabama coast.


Death Valley, CA soared to a daily record high of 129°.


One inch of snow fell at Denali National Park Headquarters in Alaska, the first occurrence of measurable snow ever recorded in July.

A heat wave affected much of Europe with daily temperatures between 90°-101° across France and Switzerland southeastward across the Mediterranean region from early to mid July.


A strong heat ridge produced record high temperatures across the Southwest.

Needles, CA reached a high temperature of 125°, recording their hottest temperature ever.

Other daily records included: Palm Springs, CA: 121°, Borrego Springs, CA: 120°, Yuma, AZ: 117°, Las Vegas, NV: 116°, Phoenix, AZ: 116°, Kingman, AZ: 113°, Tucson, AZ: 111° and Winslow, AZ: 105°.


During the evening thunderstorms began forming over parts of northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin and continued well through the overnight hours dumping nearly 10 inches of rain from far northern Clayton County, Iowa into Crawford and Grant Counties in Wisconsin. Significant flash flooding developed during the overnight hours in drainage areas. Mud and rock slides were also common given the steep terrain in that area. Some rainfall totals included: McGregor, IA: 9.47 inches, Marquette, IA: 8.09 inches, Prairie du Chien, WI: 7.31 inches, Ion, IA: 4.89 inches, Burton, WI: 3.52 inches, Millville, WI: 2.99 inches, Lancaster, WI: 2.60 inches and Guttenberg, IA: 2.57 inches..


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

NOAA Headlines Examiner with Dr. Steve Oliver and IPR at

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