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Weather History: March 2: Record Temps, Storms, Snow, Tornadoes & Tropics

Meteorological events that happened on March 2nd:


A great snowstorm in Virginia and the Carolinas pushed the tide 5 feet above normal at Norfolk. $500,000 damage resulted with 50 families and 1,000 head of cattle drowned on Nott's Island, North Carolina.


Raleigh, NC was buried under 17.8 inches of snow in 24 hours, a record for that location. Nashville, NC received 31 inches of snow. Goldsboro and Edenton received 26 inches. The average snow depth in North Carolina was 14 inches.


Las Vegas, NV dropped to 19°; their coldest March temperature on record.


Cedartown, GA was buried under 19.3 inches of snow, the 24-hour snowfall record for the state of Georgia.


The March one-day record snowfall of 16 inches buried Ottawa, Ontario Canada. The storm left 28.7 inches of snow covering the Ottawa region.


A ferocious blizzard began late on this date across much of the northern Plaims and continued through the 5th. Snow depths ranged from 2 to 4 inches in southeast South Dakota to nearly 2 feet in north central part of the state. Winds of 40 to 55 mph with gusts to 100 mph caused widespread blowing snow and near zero visibilities during the storm. Drifts up to 30 feet were reported in sheltered areas with open fields nearly bare. The storm caused heavy livestock losses. The heavy snow also collapsed a number of structures. Six deaths were recorded. The blizzard was rated as one of the most severe that has been experienced in South Dakota. Many roads were blocked for days along with many schools and businesses closed. Some snowfall totals included: Watertown, SD: 17 inches, Huron, SD: 15 inches, Sioux Falls, SD: 10 inches and Rapid City, SD: 8 inches.


The "Governor's Tornado" in Atlanta, GA did considerable damage to the governor's mansion and surrounding areas resulting in 3 deaths and $56.5 million dollars in damage.


The costliest ice storm on record struck a large section of western New York. Ice was reported to be four inches thick in some spots. Erie, Chautauqua, Genesee, and Wyoming counties were declared major disaster areas by President Ford as a result of the ice storm and localized flooding. The two day storm left more than 100,000 families without power, 5000 without telephone service, and at least 10,000 without water. One of every two homes and businesses in the area were without power. Niagara Mohawk crews repaired more than 1000 miles of downed power lines. Damages in Erie County were $45.6 million dollars with $26 million dollars in the City of Buffalo.


Half of the island of Tonga in the South Pacific was rendered homeless by Tropical Cyclone Isaac after winds of 112 mph caused heavy damage.


A series of El Niño storms battered Southern California, which began the previous day and ended on the 3rd. Rain measured up to 18 inches from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. 2.68 inches of rain fell on this day at Victorville and 2.46 inches fell at Borrego Springs. Both represent the greatest daily amount on record for March and the second greatest daily amount on record. Waves of 15 to 20 feet hit the coast around Los Angeles on this day and on the 3rd.

An unusual warning to residents of Lake Tahoe, CA: they were advised not to go out cross country skiing as they might ski into power lines. The snow depth was an amazing 215 inches. A major coastal storm ripped out several hundred feet of the Santa Monica pier.


A massive winter storm struck the Northern Plains. 33 inches of snow fell at Summit and Milbank, SD. High winds produced massive twenty foot snow drifts. Houses and telephone poles were covered in the deep drifts. Many highways were closed in parts of South Dakota and Minnesota.

Snow fell briefly at Escondido, CA. Ice pellets fell at Poway, Coronado, La Mesa, and Escondido, CA, with hail at Linda Vista and downtown San Diego. Strong storm winds struck San Diego County. Trees and antennas were toppled, causing numerous power outages.


A storm in the northeastern U.S. produced heavy snow in Maine, with 16 inches reported at West Grand Lake and Guilford.


Thunderstorms produced severe weather in the south central U.S. A tornado at Baton Rouge, LA injured two people, and another tornado caused $5 million dollars damage at the airport in Lafayette, LA.


Snow and high winds plagued the western U.S. Up to 16 inches was reported south of Seattle WA, and more than two feet blanketed the Sierra Nevada Range of California. Winds gusted to 89 mph at Hidden Peak, UT, and reached 92 mph at Peavine, CA.


Mild weather continued across the northern tier of states. Highs of 52° at Saint Johnsbury, VT, 63° at Olympia, WA, and 64° at Seattle, WA were records for the date.

22 ships were trapped by ice in the worst ice jam in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 10 years. The ice was 23 feet thick.


Another East Coast snowstorm deposited 4.6 inches of snow at Central Park in New York City to bring its seasonal snowfall total to 66.3 inches, breaking the old season snowfall record of 63.2 inches set in 1947-48.


Lead, SD set a record with a 9-day snowstorm total of 103 inches.


Both Caribou and Bangor, ME set a new all-time March record low temperatures with -28° and -16°, respectively.

The first snowfall in over 15 years hit the mountains of the Ardeche region of the French Riveria dropping up to 20 inches. The storm was responsible for power outages to more than 100,000 homes.

The high temperature in Las Palmas, the capital of Grand Canaria, Canary Islands, reached 87°, their highest March temperature in 45 years.


The temperature plummeted to -24° at Kitchner, Ontario Canada, breaking the day's former record by more than 18 degrees. The wind chill dropped as low as -44°.


One of the largest, if not the largest tornado outbreak ravaged the Tennessee Valley, the Ohio Valley and parts of the South on this day through the 3rd. At least 70 tornadoes were confirmed, including at least 11 being EF-3 intensity or greater and two of EF-4 intensity with winds estimated at 170 mph that devastated Henryville, IN and the other tore through Crittenden, KY. As many as 71 tornadoes touched down with the Storm Prediction Center reported 160 tornado accounts. The outbreak claimed 41 lives and damage was as much as $2 billion dollars.


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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