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Weather History: March 13: Record temps, storms, dust, wind & '93 Superstorm

Meteorological events that happened on March 13th:


The coldest March reading at Medicine Hat, Alberta Canada occurred as the temperature dropped to -38°.


A storm produced a record 5.22 inches of rain in 24 hours at Cincinnati, OH ending on this date.


Heavy wet snow blanketed a large part of northern and central Alabama. The snow clung to everything and caused a lot of damage and major interruptions in communications. Final accumulations ranged from 6.5 inches in Birmingham to 1.4 inches at Montgomery.


Suffocating dust storms occurred frequently in southeast Colorado between the 12th and the 25th of the month. Six people died, and many livestock starved or suffocated. Up to six feet of dust covered the ground. Schools were closed, and many rural homes were deserted by tenants.


Serious flooding occurred at Wilkes-Barre, PA was caused by the melting of winter ice.

Palm Springs, CA dropped to 29°, tying with 3/4/1952 as their lowest temperature for March. It is also the latest sub-freezing temperature on record.


The state of Iowa experienced a record snowstorm. The storm buried Iowa City under 27 inches of snow.


An F4 tornado cut an 18 mile path through Haskell and Knox counties in Texas. 17 people were killed and an eight block area of Knox City was leveled.


A storm which started out as rain changed over to freezing rain and, eventually, to snow across western South Dakota that lasted through the 14th. The storm produced generous amounts of snow in the Black Hills and surrounding Plains. Lead reported 52 inches, while Deadwood reported 47 inches. The heaviest total outside the Hills was at Rapid City where 15 inches fell. Strong winds to 60 mph accompanied the storm reducing visibilities to zero due to blowing snow and knocking down over 800 power poles. Further south, Cheyenne, WY picked up 23.1 inches of snow.


An intense downpour at Baltimore, MD accumulated an inch of rain in just 8 minutes.


A winter storm produced heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada Range of California, and the Lake Tahoe area of Nevada. Mount Rose, NV received 18 inches of new snow.


Unseasonably cold weather prevailed from the Plateau Region to the Appalachians. Chadron, NE, recently buried under 33 inches of snow, was the cold spot in the nation with a low of -19°.


Unseasonably warm weather continued in the southwestern U.S. The record high of 88° at Tucson, AZ was their seventh in a row. In southwest Texas, the temperature at Sanderson soared from 46° at 8am to 90° at 11am.

Residents of the southern U.S. viewed an extremely rare display of the "Northern Lights".


Thunderstorms produced severe weather from northwest Texas to Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska during the day, and into the night. Severe thunderstorms spawned 59 tornadoes, including 26 strong or violent tornadoes, with about 200 reports of large hail or damaging winds. There were 48 tornadoes in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, and some of the tornadoes in those 3 states were the strongest on record for so early in the season, and for so far northwest in the United States.

The most powerful tornado of the day; an F5 storm that cut a 48 mile path from Preety Prairie to just northeast of Hesston, killing two people, injuring 60 others, and caused $22 million dollars damage. The tornado had a life span of two hours. A personal check was carried from Manhattan, KS some 115 miles to northeast of Blaine. Another tornado tracked 124 miles across southeastern Nebraska injuring eight people and causing more than $5 million dollars damage during its 3-hour life span. In York County, NE, 12 farms were hit and 10,000 geese were killed.

Meanwhile, record early season heat continued across the east with many record high temperatures set including Richmond, VA with 89°, 87° at Elizabeth City, NC, National Airport at Washington, D.C. and Dulles Airport, 86° at Wallops Island, VA which remains a March record, 85° at Baltimore, MD, Salisbury, MD, Atlantic City, NJ & Wilmington, DE and 84° at Philadelphia, PA. The record high of 84° at Bridgeport, CT is interesting because of their close proximity to the coast; but also from March 1 to March 28, this is the only day where the daily record high is above 70°.


The “Superstorm” of '93" clobbered the eastern U.S. on this day and produced perhaps the largest swath of heavy snow ever recorded. The storm was described as the most costly non-tropical storm ever to strike the U.S. doing an estimated $6 billion dollars in damage. The storm was as strong as a hurricane in terms of winds and low pressure. Heavy snow and a blizzard conditions extended from the Gulf States to New England and from the Ohio Valley to the East Coast. The storm was so large that its effects were felt from Cuba, where high winds and rain damage the sugar crop, to Chicago where 250 flights at O'Hare International Airport were grounded due to snow squalls. Heavy snow was driven to the Gulf Coast with 3 inches falling at Mobile, AL and up to 5 inches reported in the Florida panhandle, the greatest single snowfall in the state's history. 13 inches blanketed Birmingham, AL to set not only a new 24 hour snowfall record for any month, but also set a record for maximum snow depth, maximum snow for a single storm, and maximum snow for a single month with as much as 17 inches reported for the entire storm. Tremendous snowfall amounts occurred in the Appalachians. Mount Leconte, TN recorded 60 inches. Mount Mitchell, NC was not far behind with 50 inches. Grantsville, MD recorded 47 inches and Snowshoe, WV had 44 inches. Practically every official weather station in West Virginia set a new 24 hour record snowfall. Further to the north, Pittsburgh, PA measured 25 inches, Albany, NY checked in with 27 inches, and Syracuse, NY was buried under 43 inches. The major population corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston, MA was not spared this time as all the big cities got about a foot of snow before a changeover to rain. While 14 inches fell at Dulles Airport, only 6.6 inches of snow was reported at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. but the liquid equivalent was between two and three inches. A rather large amount of thunderstorm activity accompanied the heavy snow. Wind gusts to hurricane force were widespread. Boston, MA recorded a gust to 81 mph, the highest wind gust at the location since Hurricane Edna in 1954. Numerous cities in the south and Mid-Atlantic States recorded their lowest barometric pressure ever as the storm dropped to 960 millibars or 28.35 inHg over the Chesapeake Bay. Some low pressure readings included White Plains, NY at 961 millibars or 28.28 inHg, Philadelphia, PA & JFK in New York at 962 millibars or 28.43 inHg and Dover, DE at 963 millibars or 28.45 inHg. The storm originated as a cluster of thunderstorms over Texas on the morning of March 12th. During the late evening into the early morning hours of the 13th, a vicious squall line swept through Florida and spawned 11 tornadoes resulting in five fatalities. Thunderstorm winds gusted to 110 mph at Alligator Point and 109 mph at Dry Tortugas. Extremely high tides occurred along the western Florida coast. A 13 foot storm surge occurred in Taylor County, FL, resulting in 10 deaths with 57 residences destroyed. A 5 to 8 foot storm surge moved ashore in Dixie County. Over 500 homes were destroyed with major damage to another 700 structures. The highest recorded wind gust associated this storm occurred on Mt. Washington, NH clocked at 144 mph. Approximately 270 deaths were attributed to the storm; three times that of the death toll from hurricane Andrew and Hugo combined. According to the National Disaster Survey Report, 26 states were affected, impacting the lives of nearly 100 million people, approximately half the nation's population. Total damage was estimated at $6 billion dollars, the costliest extra-tropical storm in history. The Superstorm produced an unbelievable 50 billion tons of snow. If all the snow were melted it would produce enough runoff to equal the entire flow over Niagara Falls for 100 days.


All time 24 record snowfalls occurred at Alpena MI with 19.3 inches and Marquette, MI with 28.0 inches. Snowfall at Alpena brought their seasonal amount to 176.1 inches, also a record. Further west, the storm produced 6 to 19 inches of snow across most of Wisconsin.


A big snowstorm dumped 19 inches of snow on Medford, OK.


49 tornadoes swarmed across the Midwest, with 38 of them in Missouri. The strongest was an F4 that destroyed homes near Paris, MO.


Las Vegas, NV recorded their earliest 90 degree on record as they hit 90°. This broke the previous daily record of 84° set in 1966.


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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