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Weather History: July 23: Record temps, storms, wind, tropics, hail & floods

Meteorological events that happened on July 23rd:

On a year-round basis, the lightning strike capital of the United States is found around Tampa Bay, FL. But on any given day the lightning "hot spot" could be almost anywhere east of the Sierras. Some Midwestern thunderstorms can unleash 50,000 or more strikes during a lifetime of only several hours.


A weather diary kept by George Washington recorded that the center of a hurricane passed directly over his Mount Vernon home. The hurricane crossed eastern North Carolina and Virginia before moving into the Central Appalachians. Norfolk, VA reported houses destroyed, trees uprooted, and crops leveled to the ground.


A two hour thunderstorm deluged Atlanta, GA with 4.32 inches of rain. More than a foot of water flooded Union Depot. Many street car motors burned out while trying to run through flooded streets. It grew so dark before the afternoon storm that gas lights were needed.


Sheridan, WY was drenched with 4.41 inches of rain, an all-time 24 hour record for that location. Associated flooding washed out 20 miles of railroad track.


Severe thunderstorms affected parts of northern and central Illinois. In Peoria, winds gusting to 85 mph knocked over trees. Two tornadoes affected Fulton County. The first passed through mainly rural areas. The second tornado caused major damage in Canton, where 127 businesses and 100 homes were destroyed. 300 other homes and 100 trailers were damaged; total damages were around $20 million dollars. Two people were killed as the tornado moved through a mobile home park. Power lines were downed during the storm; some areas were without power until the 28th.


Intense thunderstorms dumped copious amounts of rainfall over the western parts of Oklahoma. Rainfall amounts were quite impressive, including reports of up to 7 inches just north of Arapaho, in Custer County. Four inches of rain fell in just one hour east of Arapaho and two inches of rain fell in only 30 minutes in Clinton. Many creeks and rivers were quickly forced out of their banks by the heavy rainfall. Floods covered the Arapaho-Weatherford Road with as much as 4 feet of water. More than 5 inches of rain fell in the Taloga area of Dewey County, causing Highway 183 to be inundated by one to two feet of flood water.


Tropical Storm Bob moved across south Florida from Ft. Myers to just north of Palm Beach. The storm then turned north and moved northeast of Florida. The storm did minor damage to roofs and downed some trees, mainly on Florida’s west coast. Rainfall amounts ranged up to 13 inches at Naples. Tides 3 to 5 feet above normal isolated Sanibel Island and Marco Island and flooded streets in Naples and Everglades City. Several beaches suffered erosion from Port Charlotte to Marco Island.


Thunderstorms produced a record 10 inches of rain in 6.5 hours at Minneapolis, MN, including 5.26 inches in two hours. Flash flooding claimed two lives and caused $21.3 million dollars damage. Streets in Minneapolis became rushing rivers, parking lots became lakes, and storm sewers spouted like geysers. A tornado hit Maple Grove, MN causing $5 million dollars damage. Baseball size hail was reported at Olivia, MN.


Thunderstorms produced severe weather in Lower Michigan and northern Ohio, over eastern sections of the Dakotas, and over the Central High Plains Region. Showers and thunderstorms soaked Wilmington, NC with another two inches of rain, following 6.50 inches the previous day.


Morning thunderstorms in the central U.S. drenched central Oklahoma with up to 6 inches of rain. Afternoon thunderstorms produced wind gusts to 85 mph at Fort Smith, AR.

Evening thunderstorms over Florida spawned a tornado which touched down three times in south Fort Myers damaging 38 mobile homes, 7 condominiums, 20 apartments,11 commercial buildings, 37 boats, and l5 travel trailers causing nearly three quarters of a million dollars damage.


At Dodge City, KS thunderstorm winds to 100 mph caused extensive damage to fences. One filling station canopy was downed and it landed on two occupied vehicles but there were no injuries. One roof was taken off a house with debris scattered several hundred yards. A large storage shed was heavily damaged with two motor homes inside receiving extensive damage. Debris was carried one quarter of a mile.


Tornadoes hit South Carolina in wake of dying Hurricane Danny, including one that leveled a duplex apartment and killed one person. A Charlotte, NC, railroad trestle gave way, plunging a CSX locomotive into Little Sugar Creek. Crew members escaped unharmed. 6.88 inches of rain fell in Charlotte, breaking the 24 hour record of 5.91 inches in July 1944. A record 6.14 inches fell between midnight and 2pm Up to 10 inches fell in other parts of south-central North Carolina.


A large 594 decameter heat ridge dominated from the Rockies to the West Coast bringing record heat. Boise, ID hit 107° setting a new record is set for the number of consecutive days with temperatures above 100° at nine. Other daily record highs included: Billings, MT: 107°, Winnemucca, NV: 107°, Helena, MT: 104°, Salt Lake City, UT: 104°, Great Falls, MT: 103°, Missoula, MT: 103°, Burns, OR: 103°, Kalispell, MT: 101° and Lander, WY: 100°.


A large upper level ridge brought record heat to parts of the west and western Canada. Victoria, British Columbia Canada hit 96° at the Gonzales Heights Observatory, the hottest day in the 100-year record at that location.

Other daily record highs included: Portland, OR: 103°, Olympia, WA: 99°, Astoria, OR: 96° and Quillayute, WA: 93°.


This was the peak of an intense July heat wave that affected much of California thanks to an intense upper level heat ridge. Fresno set a daily record with 113°. This was the hottest reading since 7/27/1933. An all-time record high minimum was set with 90°. In Lemoore, 10,000 customers lost power for up to four hours. In all, 46 deaths were reported with 18 injuries.

Stockton, CA & Yakima, WA set their July high temperature records with 115° & 109° respectively. Eugene, OR tied their July record with 105°. Other daily record highs included: Phoenix, AZ: 114°, Redding, CA: 114°, Sacramento, CA: 111°, Lewiston, ID: 109°, Medford, OR: 107°, Spokane, WA: 102°, Casper, WY: 100°, Los Angeles (Civic Center), CA: 97°, Santa Maria, CA: 90° and Los Angeles, (LAX), CA: 88°.


A waterspout formed at about 4pm just off Rumstick Point near Barrington, RI then moved inland as a tornado in Warren before moving into the Ocean Grove section of Swansea, MA. The tornado's path was estimated at 4.2 miles long and 40 yards wide. No injuries were reported, but damage to trees, power lines and houses was reported.


The temperature soared to 118° in the Algerian community of Relizane.


A massive hail stone fell in Vivian, SD that set an American record for weight (1.94 pounds) and also diameter (8 inches). The hail stone's 18.5-inch circumference was just shy of that record. The hailstorm damaged nearly every home in Vivian breaking through roofs and leaving fist-size holes in interior ceilings. The stones smashed through windshields, causing at least five injuries in cars stranded along I-90. Dents in the ground were as large and deep as coffee cans.


On this date through the 24th, Typhoon Vicente became the strongest typhoon to hit Hong Kong, China in 13 years causing the Hong Kong Observatory to issue its No. 10 hurricane signal — the highest warning level — for the first time since 1999.


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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