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Weather History: March 3: Record Temps, Storms, Snow, Tropics & Flooding

Meteorological events that happened on March 3rd:


The temperature in downtown San Francisco, CA fell to 33°, which was the lowest ever for the city in March.


It was 26° at Escondido, CA their lowest temperature on record for March.


Thunderstorms developed each day starting on 2/28 and ending on 3/4. One person was killed by lightning in Corona. At Riverside 2.56 inches of rain fell, their greatest daily rainfall on record for March. 3.59 inches fell at Escondido, their greatest daily amount on record for March, and the storm total was 6.95 inches. For the storm 210 people were reported dead or missing in flooding across Southern California, 45 in Orange County, of which 43 perished in Mexican-American Atwood from an eight-foot wall of water. Hundreds more were injured. The Santa Ana River flooded, inundating nearly all of northern Orange County. Catastrophic damage hit more than 1,500 residences. 400 cabins and buildings were washed away in and around San Antonio Canyon. The Whitewater River flooded, isolating Palm Springs.


Asheville, NC picked up 15.8 inches of snow to establish their 24-hour snowfall record.


Vermont and northwestern Massachusetts had their biggest snowstorm in this century when Readsboro, in southern Vermont, received 50 inches in 3 days, and Peru, in northwestern Massachusetts, received 47 inches in 3 days.


Snow dusted the higher elevations on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.


Eastern Massachusetts' greatest March snowstorm occurred from this date through the 5th. The storm produced record 24-hour snowfall totals of 27.2 inches at Blue Hill Observatory, 17.7 inches at Worcester, and 16.6 inches at Boston. Winds gusted to 70 mph.


An extremely violent F5 tornado ripped through the southern part of Jackson, MS during the late afternoon. The Candlestick Park Shopping Center was virtually destroyed. 1,000 homes were damaged and 19 killed in Hinds County, mostly in Jackson. Total storm related fatalities were as high as 57 with 504 injured along the 75-mile path. This makes the tornado the sixth deadliest in Mississippi history. Damage was set at $18 million dollars.

Behind the cold front responsible for the severe storms brought strong winds gusting to 70 mph to the south central Plains through the 5th. Grass fires, aided by the strong winds, burned more than 3,000 acres near McAlester and destroyed two homes at Seminole and near Stillwater.

It was 3° at Idyllwild, their lowest temperature on record for March and the third lowest on record. The low of 16° in Palomar Mountain also was their lowest temperature on record for March.

Bakersfield, CA began a stretch of 211 consecutive days without measurable rain, their longest such streak on record.


An extremely intense coastal storm blasted the northeastern U.S. and continued into the 4th. The barometric pressure dropped to 960 millibars or 28.36 inHg at Worcester, MA for the lowest pressure ever recorded at the location. The same record was set at Concord, NH with a reading of 963 millibars or 28.44 inHg. Wind gusts 70 to 100 mph lashed eastern New England with major wind damage. Tides ran 4 to 5 feet above normal resulting in extensive coastal flooding.


One tenth of an inch of snow was recorded at Las Vegas, NV. This marked their latest measurable snow.


A coastal storm produced 25 inches of snow at Elizabeth City, NC, and 30 inches at Cape Hatteras, NC. At Miami, FL the mercury dipped to 32°.


A series of El Niño storms battered Southern California, which began on 3/1 and ended on this day. Rain measured up to 18 inches from Santa Barbara to LA. Waves of 15 to 20 feet hit the coast around Los Angeles on 3/2 and on this day. The lowest barometric pressure on record at San Diego was measured on this day: 29.37 inHg.

Des Moines, IA hit 81°, their earliest 80 degree day. Their normal high for this date is 37°.


A storm brought heavy rain and gale force winds to Washington and Oregon. Quillayute, WA received 2.67 inches of rain in 24 hours, and winds gusted to 60 mph at Astoria, OR.


A small but intense low pressure system roared across west central Mississippi at 90 mph early in the morning. A tornado in southern Mississippi picked up an automobile, carried it 150 feet, and tossed it through the brick wall of an unoccupied retirement home.


Wintry weather prevailed from the southern Rockies to the Upper Great Lakes. Neguanee, MI received 19 inches of snow, and up to 24 inches of snow blanketed parts of Colorado. Blizzard conditions were reported in Minnesota.

The high in Oklahoma City, OK on this date was 74°, but a strong cold front dropped the mercury an amazing 51° to a midnight reading of 23°. The morning low the next morning was 16°. Amazingly, no records were set in this cold wave episode that rivaled the famous 1911 Blue Northern on the Plains.

A massive dust storm lowered visibility to zero along I-10 in Cochise County, Arizona. Chain reaction accidents involved 25 cars killing two motorists.


A major ice storm coated parts of central and northwestern New York State with up to two inches of ice. Damage was totaled at $375 million dollars. It was the most costly natural disaster ever in the state up until that time. Nearly half a million people were without power at the height of the storm and many would not see their power restored until the 16th.


A major coastal storm was in progress over the mid-Atlantic and the northeast. Winds gusts hit 75 mph at Dover, DE. Big snows buried interior sections. Two day snowfall totals 33 inches at Burdett, NY, 30 inches at Frankfort Center, NY, 29 inches at Loganton, PA, 26 inches at Jay Peak, VT, and 22 inches at Frostburg, MD. The 8.7 inches of snow at Allentown, PA raised their seasonal snowfall to 69.2 inches for their snowiest winter ever. Boston's 8 inches pushed its seasonal snow to 89.5 inches for their snowiest winter as well.


Dozens of rivers, saturated with heavy rains, jumped their banks from Arkansas to West Virginia. In Louisville, KY, crews were closing all 45 gates in the city's flood wall along the Ohio and were preparing to reinforce them with 120,000 sandbags. Across the river in Indiana, waterfront communities started evacuating.


Typhoon Mitag struck Yap Main Island in the tropical Western Pacific Maximum sustained winds were 110 mph with gusts to 130 mph. The atolls of Ifalik, Woleai, and Eauripik reported major damage, but fortunately no deaths or serious injuries were reported.


The day's low temperature of -30° at Marquette, MI is the lowest March temperature ever recorded for the city.

The day's high temperature of 90° at Miami, FL was their earliest 90 degree reading since 3/5/1964.


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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