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Weather History: March 11: Record temps, storms, snow, ice, wind & tsunami

Meteorological events that happened on March 11th:


Rain began falling during the afternoon in New York City. By evening, it turned to freezing rain, coating the city in ice. Shortly after midnight on the 12th, it changed over to snow and the Blizzard of '88 began. Three feet of snow fell on southeast New York by the evening of the 13th with 50mph winds creating drifts to the second story of buildings in New York City. 21 inches accumulated in the city. Albany, NY received 47 inches of snow and Saratoga, NY 58 inches. At sea, the storm was referred to as the Great White Hurricane. 400 people died from the storm and the ensuing cold.

Heavy rain that began early in the day in Washington, D.C. and changed to snow during the afternoon and by midnight wind and heavy snow took down electric wires and blacked out the city. By the following morning, snow depths varied from a few inches in the city to over 10 inches to the north and west.


Tamarack, CA reported 451 inches of snow on the ground, a record for the U.S.


A tornado tore through New Castle, IN killing 22 people. 75 buildings were destroyed with an additional 275 damaged. A tornado at Cincinnati, OH killed three people.


Deanburg and Pinson, TN were struck by an F5 tornado. 20 people were killed and ¼ of Pinson was obliterated.


Bitterly cold temperatures occurred in the wake of a major blizzard in the Midwest. Readings of -27° at Scottsbluff, NE & -25° at Oberlin, Healy and Quinter, KS set low temperature records for the state for March. Lows of -15° at Dodge City, -11° at Concordia, and -3° at Wichita were records for March at these locations. The low of -3° at Kansas City, MO was their latest subzero reading on record.


A blizzard struck New York City with up to 20 inches of snow. Transportation was paralyzed.


One of the most paralyzing snowstorms in decades produced record March snowfalls in Iowa. Four feet of snow covered the ground at Inwood following the storm.


Unseasonably cold weather prevailed in the southeastern U.S., and a storm over the Gulf of Mexico spread rain, sleet and snow into the Appalachian Region. Sleet was reported in southern Mississippi.


A blizzard raged across the north central U.S. Chadron, NE was buried under 33 inches of snow, up to 25 inches of snow was reported in eastern Wyoming, and totals in the Black Hills of South Dakota ranged up to 69 inches at Lead. Winds gusted to 63 mph at Mullen, NE. Snow drifts 30 feet high were reported around Lusk, WY.

On this date through the 15th, more than one hundred hours of continuous snow buried Marquette, MI under 43 inches of snow.


Many cities in the central and southwestern U.S. reported new record high temperatures for the date. The afternoon high of 95° at Lubbock, TX equaled their record for March. Liberal, KS established their record high for the month of March with 93°.


Many cities in the central and eastern U.S. reported record high temperatures for the date. Record highs included 71° at Dickinson and Williston, ND, and 84° at Lynchburg, VA, Charleston, WV and Huntington, WV. Augusta, GA and Columbia, SC tied for honors as the hot spot in the nation with record highs of 88°.

A vigorous cold front produced up to three feet of snow in the mountains of Utah.


A major winter storm with a central pressure of 978 millibars or 28.88 inHg struck the northeastern U.S. Heavy snow occurred over western Pennsylvania and New York with Bradford, PA recording 23 inches, Rochester, NY 21.9 inches, and Buffalo, NY with 15 inches. On the warm side of the storm in Vermont, heavy rains combined with snowmelt and ice breakup caused massive ice jams on the Winooski River in Montpelier, resulting in severe flooding. The downtown section was under five feet of water with millions of dollars of damage resulting.


Heavy rains and mountain snows blasted southern California. Heavy rain produced 3.07 inches at Banning-Beaumont, 2.75 inches at Murrieta, 2.10 inches at Moreno Valley, 1.23 inches at Riverside and 0.84 inch at Palm Springs. 7.73 inches fell at Wrightwood in 48 hours. 3.06 inches of precipitation fell in Big Bear Lake, the greatest daily amount on record for March. A section of I-5 was washed out. Over 20 inches of snow fell at Bear Mountain Ski Resort.


The town of Dubbo, New South Wales Australia, located northwest of Sydney received 1.06 inches of rain in just an hour.


A massive avalanche closed the Trans-Canada Highway at Golden, British Columbia Canada as snow from a major influx of moist, tropical air produced unstable snow packs throughout the southeastern mountains.


The record run for dry days finally ended at 143 at Phoenix, AZ. The last measured rain fell on 10/18/2005. The last time the region had significant precipitation was 8/2/2005 when 0.59 inch fell. Not only did the rain break the dry spell, the 1.40 inches was a record for the date. The previous consecutive dry-day mark was set in 1998-99 at 101 days.

A powerful winter storm which began the previous day continued in southern California. A supercell thunderstorm produced a waterspout off south Carlsbad. This storm continued through northern San Diego County leaving one inch hail again in Escondido, and half inch hail accumulated to one inch deep from Carlsbad to Escondido. A tornado was later reported in north Ramona which downed trees and caused property damage. Storm total snowfall was 36 inches fell at Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead. 27 inches fell at Pine Cove and Idyllwild, 25 inches at Cuyamaca, 13 inches in Warner Springs, and 12 inches in Pine Valley. All the mountain highways were closed. Roof damage occurred in Guatay. One immigrant was killed and seven were injured near Pine Valley.


A powerful earthquake struck eastern Japan with a magnitude 9.1 occurred at 05:46 UTC, with the epicenter approximately 43 miles east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku and the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 20 miles. It was the most powerful known earthquake ever to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 133 feet in Miyako in Tōhoku's Iwate Prefecture. The waves travelled as much as 6 miles inland. The earthquake moved Honshu 8 feet east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between 4 inches and 10 inches. The Japanese National Police Agency confirmed 15,854 deaths, 9,677 injured and 3,155 people missing across eighteen prefectures, as well as 129,107 buildings totally destroyed, with a further 254,139 buildings sustaining heavy damage, and another 365,750 buildings partially damaged.

Minor fluctuations in sea level occurred in Southern California for two days following. A bait barge was damaged in Mission Bay.


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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