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Weather History: March 15: Record temps, storms, wind, snow, tropics & flooding

Meteorological events that happened on March 15th:

Here's a piece of weather folklore with some basis in fact. An old saying goes "If the new moon holds the old moon in her lap, expect fair weather." In fair weather conditions the air is more stable, which minimizes turbulence. This lack of turbulence allows us to see more dim objects in the sky than we would see in more unstable conditions. Since a stable air mass is typically associated with fair weather the statement holds true. So, if you look at the new moon and can see the outline of the remainder of the moon which is in shadow, expect fair weather.


0.94 inches of rain fell in just 30 minutes at San Diego, CA.


A rare tornado struck the Los Angeles area in California, moving from the coast through the community of Hawthorne.


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.


A tornado hit McPaul, IA while moving from southeast to northwest. Another tornado raced through Batesville, IL at 60 to 65 mph. Another tornado causing F4 damage killed 10 and injured 12 in St. Clair County, Missouri. A violent tornado touched down in the St. Louis metro area 5 miles southwest of Belleville, MO and moved north to O'Fallon, IL. Glass from a gas station was carried 25 miles. The tornado's roar could reportedly be heard for 10 minutes before the storm struck. This was part of an outbreak that was responsible for 11 deaths and 42 injuries.


The most severe blizzard in modern history struck North Dakota and Minnesota. The blizzard hit on a Saturday night while many are traveling, and thus claimed 71 lives: 39 in North Dakota and 32 perishing in Minnesota. Winds gusted to 75 mph at Duluth, MN, and reached 85 mph at Grand Forks, ND. Snow drifts 12 feet high were reported in north central Minnesota. A cold front traveling at 30 mph crossed Minnesota in just 7 hours.


73.62 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Cilaos, La Reunion Island in the South Indian Ocean to set a world record.


An F3 tornado hit Ada, OK killing one person and injuring 36 at a mobile home park. 68 trailers were damaged or destroyed, with damages totaling $2 million dollars.


Severe thunderstorms in Arkansas produced two violent F4 tornadoes. The first tornado tracked 48 miles through Van Buren, Cleburne, and Independence counties. Two people were killed and 13 were injured. 63 homes and 22 mobile homes were destroyed. The tornado lifted the highway 16 bridge and threw it into Greers Ferry Lake. The bridge was ¼ mile long and had a large steel superstructure. The second tornado tore through Jackson and Poinsett counties with 5 people killed and 12 injured.


A winter storm produced heavy snow and high winds in the western U.S. Austin, NV reported 23 inches of snow. Widespread strong storm winds pushed gusts to 40 mph at San Diego, CA with sustained winds 25-35 mph all day. Power outages occurred all over the San Diego metro area. Motor homes toppled in the desert. Boats flipped over in harbors. A 22 foot boat turned over at the Mission Beach jetty. High winds raked the desert areas of southern California and southern Arizona. Winds gusted to 59 mph at Douglas, AZ.


More than 100 hours of continuous snow finally came to an end at Marquette, MI, during which time the city was buried under 43 inches of snow.


Afternoon and evening thunderstorms produced severe weather from Alabama to the Mid-Atlantic Coast. Thunderstorm winds gusted to 80 mph at Virginia Beach, VA. Prior to the storms, temperatures reached the 70s and 80s.

Low pressure in southeastern Ontario produced high winds in the northeastern U.S. Winds gusted to 70 mph at Saint Albins, VT.


Low pressure crossing the Upper Mississippi Valley produced high winds from the northern and central Plains to the Great Lakes Region and Ohio Valley. Winds gusted to 73 mph at Iowa City, IA and 79 mph at Waukesha, WI. Winds of 75 mph were reported around Rapid City, SD, with gusts to 100 mph. Up to a foot of snow with blizzard conditions was reported in western Iowa, western Minnesota, and extreme eastern North Dakota.

In Washington, D.C., due to an early season extended period with temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s, the cherry blossoms peaked on this date, the earliest ever. Many cities reported record high temperatures for the date including Danville, VA with 88°, Georgetown, DE hit 87°, Atlantic City, NJ with 83°, Baltimore, MD°, Dulles Airport, VA and Harrisburg, PA hit 82° and Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, PA with 81°.


Intense snow squalls that began 3 days earlier finally came to an end over Oswego and Onondaga counties in central New York. Palermo was buried under an incredible 85 inches of snow over the four day period. Parish checked in with 60 inches and Fulton recorded 51 inches.


New Orleans, LA dropped to 31° to break their old record by 9 degrees as cold air remained in place over the East in the wake of the "Superstorm". Fort Myers, FL dropped at 39°.


Nine inches of snow on this day brought the seasonal snowfall total at Binghamton, NY to 123.2 inches, the city's snowiest winter ever.


Marquette, MI established their record for greatest snow depth with 63 inches on the ground.


A huge thunderstorm over the River Plate Estuary on the Argentina/Uruguay border produced some very wet weather. In Montevideo 4.18 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours; most within 12 hours. This equaled their entire monthly average. Across the border, Buenos Aires had 2.25 inches of rain while La Plata recorded 3.74 inches. Other wet spots included Junin with 3.62 inches, Las Flores with 1.42 inches and Bolivar with 1.26 inches. Another thunderstorm dumped 6.78 inches of rain on Florida, Uruguay in 24 hours. This exceeded their monthly average rainfall of 4.33 inches.


A deluge covered Los Angeles, CA with 4.10 inches of rain, their second greatest daily rainfall total for March.


Brownsville, TX broke a century-old record for the greatest daily rainfall for March with 3.23 inches.


Tropical Cyclone Indlada made landfall along the island of Madagascar's northeastern coast just south of Antalaha. The category 3 storm packed maximum sustained winds near 120 mph.


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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