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Weather History: May 3: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, fire, wind & snow

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Listed are Meteorological events that happened on May 3rd:

1761

Large tornadoes swept through the harbor at Charleston, SC when a British fleet of 40 sails was at anchor. It raised a wave 12 feet high, leaving many vessels on their beam ends. Four people drowned.

1774

A major snowstorm was reported in areas from Virginia to New York. Severe frost was reported as far south as North Carolina.

1812

A major snowstorm occurred from Philadelphia, PA to Maine. 12 inches fell at Keene, NH and 9 inches at Waltham, MA.

1868

A tornado traveled 15 miles across Warren and Knox Counties, northwest of Galesburg, IL. The small town of Ionia, in Warren County, was destroyed. 16 homes and two churches in the town were leveled, along with 30 homes elsewhere. The tornado killed six people and injured 40 others. Many of the casualties occurred during a church service, when the church roof was torn off and dropped onto the congregation.

1895

Several powerful tornadoes ripped through portions of northwest Iowa. In Sioux County, an extremely violent tornado, at times 1,000 yards wide packing winds estimated at over 250 mph moved from three miles north of Ireton to two miles southwest of Hull hitting four schools. Two school houses several miles apart were leveled, killing teachers and students. The teacher killed at one of the schools was the brother of the teacher killed at the other school. Adjoining farms were also entirely destroyed with several deaths in homes. Amazingly, school children were carried for up to a half mile with many sustaining serious injuries. Two more strong tornadoes ravaged other portions of Sioux, Lyon and Osceola Counties destroying more schools and homes.

A tornado moved northeast from 3 miles northwest of Redfield through Ashton, SD. The tornado was estimated to be on the ground for about 5 miles. Several homes were unroofed and barns were destroyed. Tornadoes were also spotted in Minnehaha and Bon Homme Counties in South Dakota.

1922

A lightning bolt knocked a couple and their horse unconscious at Fort Lawrence, Nova Scotia Canada, but all survived.

1954

Record low temperatures occurred across the Plains and northern Rockies. Records for the month of May included: Sheridan, WY: 13° degrees, Miles City, MT: 15°, Billings, MT: 16° and Oklahoma City, OK: 32°.

The low of 28° tied the record low for the month of May at Liberal, KS.

Daily record lows included: Lewistown, MT: 16°, Cheyenne, WY: 20°, Clayton, NM: 24°, Falls City, NE: 31°, Hobart, OK: 32°, Burlington, IA: 32°-Tied, Springfield, IL: 35°-Tied, Little Rock, AR: 41°-Tied and Brownsville, TX: 56°.

Snow fell on three straight days from this date through the 5th across Lower Michigan. Record snowfall on this date included 1.3 inches at Grand Rapids.

1955

This was the third of a four consecutive day warm spell from parts of the Midwest, Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley as temperature climbed into the 80’s and 90’s. Locations that reported record highs for the date included: Alexandria, LA: 96°, Chicago, IL: 92°, Iron Mountain, MI: 90°-Tied, Fort Smith, AR: 90°-Tied, Stevens Point, WI: 89°, Traverse City, MI: 88°, Gaylord, MI: 87°, Rhinelander, WI: 86°, Appleton, WI: 86°-Tied, Park Rapids, MN: 84° and Mt. Clemons, MI: 84°-Tied.

1960

Late season snowfall of 3 to 7 inches covered Perkins, Corson and Campbell Counties in South Dakota. Lemmon reported 7 inches, and 6 miles SE of McIntosh had 6.5 inches. Main roads were very slippery and some rural roads impassable for about one day.

1967

Many locations from parts of the Rockies to the Great Lakes and deep south endured record cold temperatures for the date. Many locations set record May lows in the upper Midwest including: Mondovi, WI: 20°, Rochester, MN: 21°, Austin, MN: 22°, Alma, WI: 24° and Waukon, IA: 24°.

Locations that set daily record lows for the date included: International Falls, MN: 11°, Huron, SD: 17°, Minneapolis, MN: 18°, Flagstaff, AZ: 19°-Tied, Traverse City, MI: 22°, Pierre, SD: 22°-Tied, Helena, MT: 23°, Ste. St. Marie, MI: 25°, Muskegon, MI: 26°, Grand Junction, CO: 29°, Albuquerque, NM: 34°-Tied, Birmingham, AL: 40° and Fort Smith, AR: 41°-Tied.

1978

Persistent thunderstorms caused widespread flooding in southeastern Louisiana and extreme southeastern Mississippi. Rainfall totals of 10 to 13.5 inches were reported around New Orleans, LA causing the worst flooding in 30 years. The water depth reached 3 to 4 feet in several hundred homes, and total property damage was estimated at $100 million dollars. An oil storage tank was set afire at Covent, LA by lightning.

On this date through the next day, lines of severe thunderstorms associated with a cold front and strong low pressure system swept through northern and central Florida causing a variety of severe weather, resulting in three deaths and over 100 injuries. Tornadoes, lightning, high winds, hail, heavy rain and local flooding, high tides and beach erosion, funnel clouds and waterspouts were reported. Tides along the Gulf coast were two to 4 feet above normal. A squall line ahead of a fast-moving cold front spawned at least 11 tornadoes and many severe thunderstorms from Jacksonville to Lake Okeechobee as it moved down the peninsula.

1981

Severe thunderstorms dumped 5.1 inches of rain on Keenesburg, CO in 45 minutes. 6 to 12 inches of hail piled up in Keenesburg/Hudson area with extensive damage to crops occurring. Snowplows were needed to clear the hail off of local roads.

1982

The late President Reagan's star horse from his Death Valley Days, Sinbad the Sailor was struck by lightning and killed at Kanab, UT.

1984

A powerful tornado ripped through Montgomery, AL killing 5 people and injuring 37 others.

Fairbanks, AK experienced their earliest ever thunderstorm.

1987

Thunderstorms produced severe weather in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Softball size hail was reported at Center Point, TX, and a tornado caused $3 million dollars damage near Satanta, KS.

Heavy snow blanketed the foothills of eastern Colorado, with 18 inches reported at Divide.

1988

Thunderstorms brought much needed rains to the drought- stricken central U.S. Evening thunderstorms produced large hail in North Carolina. Baseball size hail was reported west of Mooresville, NC.

1989

Thunderstorms produced severe weather in the Southern and Central Plains Region. Thunderstorm winds gusted to 72 mph at Graford, TX, and baseball size hail was reported at Graham and Lake Kemp, TX.

1990

A stubborn late season storm slowly crawled across southern Colorado the first 3 days of the month producing heavy snow from the San Juan Mountains to the southeast plains. The storm produced up to 3 feet of snow in the higher elevations of southern Colorado, and 18 to 22 inches of snow along the eastern slopes of the Central Mountains of New Mexico. Pueblo, CO reported a record 10.6 inches of snow for the month as a result of the storm, and a record total for the winter season of 69.6 inches.

While it was snowing in Pueblo, record heat was occurring in California. Sacramento recorded a new high temperature of 93°.

1991

Bismarck, ND reported 6.1 inches of spring snow.

1994

26 reports of severe weather, including severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, lightning, large hail, funnel clouds and waterspouts occurred from the Florida Panhandle to the Keys. The most significant event occurred in Volusia County at Ormond Beach where a tornado touched down at intersection of I-95 and Highway 40 in northern Volusia County. It moved east, producing minor damage. The tornado intensified when it passed over the Holiday Village mobile home park just west of Ormond Beach, where it damaged 125 and destroyed 150 mobile homes. No serious injuries. Damage was estimated near $10 million dollars. The only injuries for the day occurred at St. Lucie in Martin County, where two firefighters were sent to the hospital after lightning struck the side of their truck while they were fighting a brush fire started by lightning. The largest hail, up to 3 inches, was reported in Palm Beach County.

1999

Beginning on the afternoon on this date through the evening of May 4th, there was an outbreak of tornadoes from southwest Texas through southeast South Dakota. The most devastating part of this outbreak occurred during the late afternoon and evening, on this date, over Oklahoma and southern Kansas.

There were 63 tornadoes in Oklahoma, making this the worst outbreak ever to strike the state. In central Oklahoma alone, 8 individual supercell thunderstorms produced 57 tornadoes. One of the supercells produced an incredible 20 tornadoes and it tracked northeast across the state. 18 tornadoes were rated F2 or greater, including a monster F5 tornado that tracked through Grady, McClain, Cleveland, and Oklahoma Counties, doing extreme damage, killing at least 35 people, and injuring 748 others. Bridge Creek, Moore and southern parts of the Oklahoma City Metro area were hit the hardest. When it was near Moore, OK, a truck-mounted Doppler radar measured a wind speed of 318 mph, the highest ever observed in a tornado and close to being the first F6 ever officially recorded.

Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK were faced with the unprecedented situation of a major tornado on the ground threatening their location. As a major F5 tornado was approaching the Oklahoma City metro area from the southwest, the SPC notified its backup, the Air Force Weather Agency at Offutt AFB in Omaha, NE that they might have to assume operational responsibility if the tornado approached Norman. The storm remained several miles west of the facility and was visible from the SPC roof.

Damage from this single tornado was around one billion dollars, making it the most costly tornado in history. Estimated damage from the entire tornado outbreak was $1.485 billion dollars, making this the most costly tornado outbreak ever. 2,314 homes were destroyed and another 7,428 were damaged. To the north in Kansas, an F4 tornado tracked 24 miles through Sumner and Sedgwick Counties, killing 6, injuring 154, and causing $146 million in damages. Haysville and Wichita suffered severe damage. A total of 8,480 buildings and homes were damaged or destroyed with 1,109 totally destroyed.

2001

Many locations from the Ohio Valley to the East Coast reported early May record heat. The high temperature reached 92° at Portland, ME obliterating the old record of 74° set in 1969. The airport station also set the warmest low and warmest average with temperatures of 57° and 75°, respectively.

Other locations that reported record high temperatures for the date included: Boston, MA: 92°, Williamsport, PA: 92°, Blue Hill, MA: 91°, Concord, NH: 91°, Newark, NJ: 91°, Allentown, PA: 91°, New York (Central Park), NY: 90°, Philadelphia, PA: 90°, Houlton, ME: 89°, St. Johnsbury, VT: 89°, Albany, NY: 89°, Glens Falls, NY: 89°, Atlantic City, NJ: 89°, Harrisburg, PA: 88°, Scranton-Wilkes Barre, PA: 88°, Millville, NJ: 88°, Caribou, ME: 87°, Wilmington, DE: 87°, Bridgeport, CT: 86°, Utica, NY: 86°, Lafayette, IN: 85°, Detroit, MI: 85°, Cincinnati, OH: 85°, Montpelier, VT: 85°, New York (JFK), NY: 85°, Columbia, MO: 84°, Louisville, KY: 84°, Bradford, PA: 82° and Wallops Island, VA: 82°.

A hailstorm dropped stones as large as 2.2 lb on the remote Nepalese village of Thori. Damage included 800 thatched-roof homes destroyed, crops and livestock were killed, and one person was killed with 25 injured.

2002

With low humidity, very dry vegetation, and increasing south winds, embers from a day old controlled burn initiated a large grassland fire in the early afternoon hours west of Claremont, SD. South winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 50 mph caused the fire to spread quickly. The fire expanded to 4 miles wide and spread 4 miles north before it was contained late in the evening. Many trees along with a mobile home, an abandoned house, and an old barn were also burned. Seven miles of road had to be closed due to poor visibility for smoke. 11 fire departments with nearly 150 firefighters extinguished the fire. The fire was completely put out during the afternoon hours of the 4th. This was one of the largest grassland fires in Brown County history.

2003

New Hampshire lost a treasured icon when the "Old Man of the Mountain," a granite outcropping fell in a massive rockslide from the side of Cannon Mountain above Franconia Notch. The landmark, a symbol of the fierce independence and stubbornness of the state, eventually succumbed to the same natural forces that created the amazing rock formation 200 million years ago. Residents mourned the loss of the symbol, which is pictured on the state symbol, the state quarter, license plates and road signs across New Hampshire.

2004

Many locations in Alaska and across the West enjoyed record high temperatures. It was 105° in Santa Ana, the highest temperature on record for May. Locations that set daily record highs included: Borrego Springs, CA: 105°, Needles, CA: 104°-Tied, Escondido, CA: 103°, Blythe, CA: 103°, Los Angeles (Civic Center), CA: 101°, Daggett, CA: 100°, Phoenix, AZ: 100°-Tied, Las Vegas, NV: 99°, Stockton, CA: 96°, Campo, CA: 94°, Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 94°-Tied, Bishop, CA: 93°, San Diego, CA: 93°, Reno, NV: 89°, Honolulu, HI: 87°-Tied, Cedar City, UT: 84°, Burns, OR: 82°, Big Bear Lake, CA: 78°, McGrath, AK: 68°, Skagway, AK: 68°, Talkeetna, AK: 66°, Cordova, AK: 65°, Bethel, AK: 63°, King Salmon, AK: 63°-Tied, Anchorage, AK: 59°, Kenai, AK: 59°-Tied, Kotzebue, AK: 52°, Cold Bay, AK: 51°-Tied and St. Paul Island, AK: 45°.

2007

A slow moving Pacific storm moving from the southwest brought unsettled weather to the Colorado Rockies through the 6th. During the 3-day period, locally heavy snow was reported over parts of the Front Range foothills. Storm totals included: 15 inches near Conifer, 14.5 inches west of Jamestown, 13.5 inches six miles southwest of Evergreen and 12.5 inches at Pine Junction.

Severe thunderstorms produced large hail, up to one inch in diameter in the vicinity of Boulder and Hudson. Lightning struck a residence in Jefferson County causing a fire. At Denver International Airport, lightning struck a United Airlines jet as it was pushing away from the gate. None of the passengers were affected; but they switched planes.

2009

A large and damaging thunderstorm complex known as a derecho moved quickly east across areas of northeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi during the morning to midday hours. The primary locations affected were south of interstate twenty and wind gusts ranging from 60 to 80 mph were common. One fatality was recorded just east of Laurel, MS, as straight line winds knocked a tree onto an occupied mobile home. In addition, multiple tornadoes were spawned by this thunderstorm complex.

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