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Weather History: March 26: Record temps, storms, wind, snow, floods & Catarina

Meteorological events that happened on March 26th:


Two steamboats were crushed by ice during the breakup of a major ice jam at Bismarck, ND.


Washington, DC reported an unusual late winter storm snow accumulation of up to a foot. Up to five inches has fallen as late as March 30-31 in the nation's capital.


The Miami River at Dayton in Ohio reached a record flood crest 8 feet higher than the previous record crest after 10 inches of rain deluged a wide area of the Ohio River Basin. Severe flooding killed 467 people and total damage was $147 million dollars.


The town of Elba, AL received an amazing 38.09 inches of rain during a 4-week period from February 26th - March 26th as every river in the state of Alabama was flooding. Birmingham, AL received 81.82 inches of rain that year, a record that still stands. The annual rainfall total at Seven Hills, AL west of Mobile was an incredible 96.88 inches. 29 people died in the Alabama flooding.


19.2 inches of snow was reported over a 2-day period at Chicago, IL.


A severe dust storm swept across Denver, CO. The dense dust blew in from the east-northeast with gale force winds. The dust bank was first visible on the northeastern horizon about 2pm local time. As a rolling, swirling yellowish to smoke black cloud, at 2:06pm the cloud enveloped the Denver area. The visibility went from unlimited to 1/8 mile in just two minutes. By 2:25pm, the visibility was improving and above 1,000 feet by 3:10pm. Thereafter, the dimmed sun appeared periodically. The dust was partially gone by 8:30pm.


Good Friday tornadoes moved from Terre Haute to Redkey, IN killing 20 people. 80% of the town of Coatesville was destroyed, and 16 people were killed. The path was a half mile wide.


Dumont, SD, set the state's 24-hour snowfall record with 38 inches and a single storm of 60 inches through March 28th.


The temperature at Allaket, AK plunged to -69°. This set a record for the lowest U.S. temperature ever for March.


The United Kingdom's wettest March day on record occurred as 6.47 inches of rain fell at Glen Etive, Highland. Ardgour House, Highland was just behind with 6.42 inches, while 6.34 inches fell at Broadford, Skye and 6.26 inches of rain at Kinlochewe.


Parts of northern and central Georgia experienced their worst snow and ice storm since 1935. Power outages lasting two days ruined 2 million eggs at poultry hatches. Two people were killed when a tree landed on their car.

Denver, CO recorded their highest March temperature soaring to 84°.


A major Pre-Easter blizzard battered the Rockies into the Plains. In northeastern Colorado, millions of dollars in livestock were lost. Denver escaped the brunt of the storm only receiving five inches of snow. Temperatures plunged there from 50° to 18° by midnight on March 26th.

A combination of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow produced an intense ice storm over the northern two-thirds of Iowa. Heavy ice accumulation on power and telephone lines, combined with winds of 20 to 30 mph to cause extensive damage. Hundreds of power and telephone poles snapped. 70,000 homes were without electric power, many for six days. At least eight radio or TV towers were heavily damaged or destroyed. Many old timers claimed that this was one of the worst ice storms of memory in this century.


A heavy snowstorm struck from eastern Nebraska to southwestern Minnesota. A general 10 to 20 inches of snow fell. Lyons, NE recorded 24 inches. The 13.3 inches that fell at Omaha, NE set a new record for the heaviest spring snowfall on record.


The Mojave Desert was strafed by ferocious winds of 60-90 mph. Peak winds at Mojave were clocked at 103 mph and Daggett reported 66 mph. Power outages and road closures resulted. Near Indio, a California Highway Patrol officer reported a car door ripped off and that he was hit by a sizable rock. Another car had its windows blown out.


Strong winds associated with a storm and frontal boundary produced strong winds across the Colorado Foothills. Boulder, CO reported a gust to 76 mph while Stapleton Airport reported a gust of 52 mph. A dust storm produced by the strong winds caused a 35-car pileup on I-25 north of Denver. In Denver, the winds blew out windows in a few downtown buildings.

It was 98° at Riverside, CA, their highest temperature recorded in March.

Mid afternoon thunder snow spawned a tornado at Albany, NY.


A U.S. Air Force rocket being launched from Cape Canaveral, FL was lost just 48 seconds into flight after it was struck by lightning generated by the exhaust plume of the rocket. Lightning researchers regularly trigger lightning flashes by launching rockets when thunderstorms are present.

A cold front crossing the Plateau Region produced high winds in Utah causing property damage. Winds gusted to 51 mph at Salt Lake City.


Many cities in the southwestern U.S. reported new record high temperatures for the date. Afternoon highs of 73° at Flagstaff, AZ, 90° at Sacramento, CA, 95° at Santa Maria, and Los Angeles, CA, 98° at Tucson, AZ, and 100° at Phoenix, AZ set records for March.


Record warm temperatures occurred across the central U.S. Many cities reported record unseasonably warm readings, including Dodge City, KS with an afternoon high of 88°. Strong southerly winds gusted to 51 mph at Dodge City, and reached 55 mph at Salina, KS.

Thunderstorms that moved into south-central Kansas from northwest Oklahoma produced considerable lightning activity in Clark and Comanche counties. Many range fires were started when lightning struck the very dry grass in the region. Several cattle were lost in the fires along with some fences and corrals. An estimated 7,000 acres of land was burned in the two counties.


Fair weather prevailed across the nation for the second day in a row. Freezing temperatures were reported in the Middle Atlantic Coast Region in the wake of an early spring snowstorm. Afternoon highs were again in the 70s and 80s in the southeastern U.S., and for the ninth day in a row, temperatures in the southwestern U.S. reached into the 90s.


Severe thunderstorms across much of north-central and northwest Oklahoma produced a total of 5 tornadoes. Four of the tornadoes were weak, but the fifth was much stronger. That tornado traversed a 67 mile long path from just northeast of Nash, in Grant County, northeastward into southern Kansas.

High winds caused damage to homes across Kansas. Winds gusted over 80 mph in the southwestern part of the state and between 60 and 70 mph across the rest of the state. Roofs were torn off in the Dodge City and Garden City areas, and several cars and homes were damaged in the Fort Scott area. Total damage estimate from the high wind episode was $1.5 million dollars.

Out ahead of this storm, Eau Claire, WI set a record high with 76°.


Strong winds from high based thunderstorms blew a roof off a business and into several parked cars at Englewood, CO. The winds also caused half of a furniture warehouse roof to collapse in North Denver, ripped a mechanical shed roof off in downtown Denver and downed power lines in Commerce City. Winds gusted as high as 68 mph. At Stapleton Airport, no thunder was heard; but a microburst wind gust to 55 mph briefly reduced the visibility to zero in blowing dust.


Two crewmen were killed when a mudslide wiped out 164 feet of Canadian rails near Frasier Canyon British Columbia Canada causing an eastbound freight train to plunge from the tracks at Fraser Canyon, British Columbia Canada.


The first ever confirmed hurricane in the South Atlantic Ocean struck the coast of Brazil. Named “Catarina”, the cyclone hit the coasts of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul states with heavy rains and sustained winds estimated at 90 mph, before dissipating over land late on March 28th. Three people died and 75 more were injured. Damage to local crops was extensive. At least 1,500 homes were destroyed and another 40,000 damaged. At least 2,000 people were left homeless. 85% of the banana crop and 40% of the rice crop were lost. The local corn crop also sustained heavy loss. Damage was estimated at $350 million dollars.

South Atlantic Hurricane/Cyclone Catarina developed along a stationary upper level cold core trough on March 19th. Emerging off the coast of Brazil on March 20th, it continued moving east-southeast until March 22nd when a ridge to the storms southeast slowed it down and eventually became stationary. With unusually favorable upper level winds and seas surface temperatures in the mid to upper 70s, the storm attained sub-tropical characteristics on March 24th, tropical characteristics on March 25th as it started moving slowly westward and a hurricane on March 26th. A Brazilian newspaper indicated a "Furacão (hurricane)” was threatening Santa Catarina State. This was partially the reason the cyclone was unofficially names “Catarina”. The cyclone made landfall along the southern coast of Brazil in the state of Santa Catarina just south of the resort town of Laguna and north of the town of Torres in the northeast of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande Del Sol early on March 28th. Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 90 mph through the Dvorak estimates.

This was the first documented hurricane in the South Atlantic Ocean since geostationary satellite records began in 1966. Believe it or not, the Brazilian Government Forecasters initially denied the storm. They did not classify “Catarina” as a Tropical Cyclone until a year after it made landfall. Surprised American Meteorologists had no problem identifying “Catarina” as a Hurricane/Tropical Cyclone.

You may have also seen this cyclone referred to as “Aldonca”. That is because no World Meteorological Organization agencies officially named it; as tropical cyclone names are pre-determined by the World Meteorological Organization. Other unofficial names for this cyclone is 01T-ALPHA by the United Kingdom Meteorology Office and “50L-NONAME” from the National Hurricane Center.

As far as other events, there may have been two: A possible tropical depression or storm in April 1991 forming from an area of convection that may have been associated with a disturbance from Africa. The second was January 19, 2004; an area of convection that may have been briefly a Tropical Depression off the Brazilian coast.

The three reasons that tropical activity is practically non-existent in the South Atlantic:

1.) Seas surface temperatures are usually less than 27°C/80°F.

2.) Upper level wind shear is too strong.

3.) Easterly tropical waves from Africa and the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone are virtually non-existent.

It is quite possible the detection of other tropical cyclones may have been missed during the modern satellite era.

Satellite Analysis Branch estimated positions and intensity for South Atlantic storm:

Date/Time Latitude Longitude Dvorak Estimate (FT/CI)

25/2009Z 28.8S 42.3W T3.0/3.0

25/2339Z 28.7S 42.6W T3.0/3.0

26/0639Z 28.7S 43.1W T3.5/3.5

26/1145Z 28.9S 43.7W T4.0/4.0

26/1709Z 29.0S 44.3W T4.5/4.5

26/2300Z 29.0S 44.8W T4.5/4.5

27/0639Z 29.3S 45.6W T4.5/4.5

27/1145Z 29.5S 46.4W T4.5/4.5

27/1745Z 29.6S 47.4W T4.5/4.5

27/2309Z 29.3S 48.2W T4.5/4.5

28/0639Z 28.9S 49.7W OVERLAND

Dvorak Current Intensity Chart

CI Mean Wind Speed

Number (Knots) (MPH)

1 25 KTS 29 MPH

1.5 25 KTS 29 MPH

2 30 KTS 35 MPH

2.5 35 KTS 40 MPH

3 45 KTS 52 MPH

3.5 55 KTS 63 MPH

4 65 KTS 75 MPH

4.5 77 KTS 89 MPH

5 90 KTS 104 MPH

5.5 102 KTS 117 MPH

6 115 KTS 132 MPH

6.5 127 KTS 146 MPH

7 140 KTS 161 MPH

7.5 155 KTS 178 MPH

8 170 KTS 196 MPH


Check out my colleague Weather Examiners:

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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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