Meteorological events that happened on May 12th:
Ben Franklin was the first person to identify nor'easters. In a letter on this date, Franklin described an experience that happened to him in November 1743 when storm clouds in Philadelphia blocked his view of an eclipse. Franklin assumed that the storm had blown in from the northeast because the surface winds at his location were from that direction. He was puzzled to find out later that his brother had viewed the eclipse with no problems and that the storm had arrived in Boston four hours later. The information caused Franklin to correctly surmise that the storm had moved from southwest to northeast.
Unusual snows occurred across the Northeast. 6 inches fell at Erie, PA and 12 inches at Rutland, VT from this date through the 15th.
The first American newspaper weather map was published in the New York Herald. Weather maps would first appear on a regular basis beginning on May 9, 1879 in the New York Daily Graphic.
A tornado, which peaked at F4 intensity, touched down in Vermilion County near Armstrong, and passed between Alvin and Rossville before moving into Indiana. At least 5 houses were destroyed, two of which were totally swept away. Three people were killed. Five other strong tornadoes occurred across Illinois that day: two near Mt. Carroll, one near Odell, one near Jacksonville, and one in Iroquois County.
A tornado killed 57 people as it passed through Greene and Huron Counties of Ohio leaving 43 dead in Xenia.
7.80 inches of rain fell in 15 minutes at Plumb Point, Jamaica to set a world rainfall record for that time frame.
Virginia's worst tornado on record occurred on this date. 6 tornadoes touched down, including two west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, killing 22 people and destroying 4 schools. 13 of the victims were killed at Rye Cove in Scott County.
A dust storm darkened the skies from Oklahoma to the Atlantic coast.
A severe weather outbreak produced tornadoes, high winds and large hail across Lower Michigan. A deadly tornado hit near Flint for the second time in three years, killing three people on the southeast side of the city. One person was killed in Gratiot County as a tornado moved between Alma and Ithaca. Muskegon was pelted with baseball-sized hail that caused thousands of dollars in damage to homes and cars.
Dust storms suddenly reduced visibilities to near zero on Interstate Highway 10 near Casa Grande, AZ. Chain reaction accidents involving cars and trucks resulted, killing 7 people.
A cloudburst dumped 16 inches of rain north of New Braunfels, TX sending a 30 foot wall of water down Blueders Creek into the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers washing away people, houses and automobiles. The flood claimed 18 lives and caused more than $20 million dollars damage.
Cheyenne, WY received 3.8 inches of snow. It turned out to be the last snow of the 1979-80 season which produced a record 121.5 inches of snowfall. On the same day Scottsbluff, NE received just under an inch of snow (0.8 inches) which brought their snow season to an end with a record 78.5 inches.
A major storm dumped 1.5 to 3.5 inches of rain across northeast Colorado and dumped incredible amounts of snow in the foothills. Coal Creek Canyon southwest of Boulder was buried under 46 inches with 39 inches at Nederland. The heavy wet snow downed power lines.
Further to the southeast, in Wichita Falls, TX more than 4.5 inches of rain fell, after more than half an inch fell the day before. Some homes reportedly had more than eight feet of water in them when the Holliday and McGrath Creeks rose out of their banks. The heavy rain of this period, combined with the rest of the season, gave Wichita Falls their greatest spring rainfall ever. From April through June of 1982, rainfall totaled slightly more than 24 inches. 12 inches of rain fell in Bonham, TX and Clinton, OK reported 7.32 inches.
Heavy wet snow fell on this date through the 12th across parts of Montana. Snowfall totals included: Pryor: 22 inches, Melstone: 19 inches, Hysham: 18 inches, Broadus: 17 inches, Red Lodge: 16 inches, Plevna: 15 inches, Columbus: 14 inches, Nye: 13 inches, Baker: 13 inches, Billings: 12 inches, Forsyth: 12 inches and Miles City: 12 inches.
Severe weather erupted across northeast South Dakota. A tornado touched down just northeast of Clark and cut a path 25 miles long into Codington County. The tornado moved southeast and, at times, was an amazing three quarters of a mile wide. The storm moved through southwest sections of Henry where it split into two separate tornadoes which moved different directions. One moved northeast and quickly dissipated while the second continued its path of destruction to the southeast. On its southeast trek the tornado destroyed 11 barns, 23 sheds, 6 homes, one mobile home, 7 garages, 8 grain bins, as well as, machinery and hundreds of trees. The storm also wrapped a small plane around a pole. Areas along the storm path reported hail from golf ball to grapefruit size with some areas in Henry having the hail pile up to 15 inches deep.
Widespread severe weather occurred for two days across the state of Oklahoma from this date through the next day. The city of Moore reported baseball size hail and winds of 70 to 80 mph. Even larger hail fell in south Oklahoma City, with some stones as large as grapefruits. Hail larger than baseballs fell as far southwest as Sterling. Two weak tornadoes also occurred, but caused little additional damage.
A heat wave persisted in central California. Afternoon highs of 100° at Fresno, CA and 102° at Sacramento, CA were records for the date.
Unseasonably warm weather prevailed in the western U.S. Several cities reported record high temperatures for the date, including Phoenix, AZ with a reading of 106° and Pendleton, OR with 92°.
Showers and thunderstorms associated with a low pressure system stalled over New York State and drenched Portland ME with 4.50 inches of rain in 24 hours. Rainfall totals of 5 to 7 inches soaked the state of Maine over a four day period causing $1.3 million dollars damage.
Thunderstorms produced severe weather from eastern Texas and the Central Gulf Coast States into Missouri and Illinois. Thunderstorms spawned 6 tornadoes, including one which injured four people at Doloroso, MS. Thunderstorms also produced hail three inches in diameter west of Vicksburg, MS, and wind gusts to 83 mph in southern Illinois, north of Vevay Park and at the Coles County Airport. High winds and heavy rain caused $1.6 million dollars crop damage in Calhoun County, Illinois, and in southeastern Louisiana, Saint Joseph was deluged with 8 inches of rain.
A weak but impressive looking tornado developed over downtown Miami, FL and moved straight across parts of the city. Four people received minor injuries.
The last gasp of El Niño brought rare rain to San Diego, CA and rained out the first Padres game in Mission Valley in over 15 years. Further north, snow fell in the higher elevations. Lodgepole received 17 inches and 13.3 inches fell at Grant Grove.
Slow moving thunderstorms dropped several inches of rain on already saturated ground during the morning hours across western New York State.
Later that day, thunderstorms rolled across the Niagara Peninsula and then along the Lake Ontario shore counties. Only small hail was reported with the storms, however the storms produced hurricane-force winds. A 86 mph wind gusts was recorded at the Niagara Coast Guard Station in Youngstown along with two inches of rain. The high winds buffeted the area taking down trees and power lines. A State-of-Emergency was declared in Youngstown where over 100 trees and many more branches were down in the small community. Various communities reported power outages of 12 hours or more. In Irondequoit, Monroe County, Kings Highway and Bayview Road caved in as a result of erosion.
Severe thunderstorms procued hail up to 2.5 inches in diameter from Eureka to Roanoke, causing $300,000 damage to 100 cars. This was part of a cluster of severe thunderstorms, producing hail in a large area from the Illinois River to the Indiana border.
Typo by the forecasters at the NWS State College PA in the daily Severe Weather Outlook: THERE IS A SLIGHT RISK OF SEVERE WEATHER OVER CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA LATER TODAY...THE MAIN TREAT WILL BE STRONG WINDS AND DAMAGING HAIL.
A rare tornado reportedly touched down in Taipei, Taiwan. The storm flipped a few vehicles, and uprooted some trees.
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