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Weather History: May 30: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, wind, floods & tropics

Meteorological events that happened on May 30th:


John Park Finley of the U.S. Army Signal Corps was the first bonafide tornado researcher. In 1879, he was assigned the task of researching tornado events across the Plains of the United States. A major outbreak of severe weather occurred in Kansas and western Missouri. In Kansas, tornadoes killed 18 people at Delphos, and 30 people at Irving. Two tornadoes struck the town of Irving within a few minutes time virtually wiping the small Kansas community off the map. The second tornado was perhaps two miles wide, and exhibited multiple vortices. A local newspaper commented on Finley's investigation, stating its skepticism that studying such storms would be of little benefit to anyone who had gone through the storm or to anyone in the future. Indeed, Finley's work was met with skepticism in wide quarters. He set up a network of volunteer "tornado reporters" and even issued the first tornado forecasts. Finley's impressive research was pushed aside to be forgotten and he was reassigned to other duties.


A tornado causing F4 damage killed 10 people and injured 100 in Crawford, Washington, St. Francois, and Jefferson counties in Missouri. This tornado was part of an outbreak that produced 7 separate tornadoes and was responsible for 21 deaths and 140 injuries.


Vanport City was a federal housing project built during World War II on 650 acres along the banks of the Columbia River north of Portland, OR. Warm spring temperatures caused a rapid melt of the heavy snowpack in Columbia River basin. When a dike collapsed, it only took two hours to flood the entire city. There was almost no warning for the town's 19,000 residents and 25 people drowned. The residents of the town lost all of their personal belongings, most escaping with just the clothes on their backs. Vanport would never be rebuilt.


Thunderstorms drop over 10 inches of rain in less than an hour in Buffalo Gap, Saskatchewan, Canada breaking a long drought.


Severe flooding occurred in parts of New Jersey. Seven people died in the flooding between the 28th through this date. Damage totaled $133 million dollars.


Severe thunderstorms produced winds of 57 mph or greater over parts of eastern Missouri. Hail measuring up to 2.75 inches in diameter was also reported in St. Charles County, Missouri and an F2 tornado caused $2.5 million dollars in damage in Adams County in Illinois.


An amazing 17 inches of rain fell in a nine day period of time ending on this date at Avon, South Dakota. This led to major flood problems in the area. Krug's lake, located one mile south of Avon, is normally dry. Not only did the lake fill up, but it also drained into the south side of the town after a hastily constructed dike gave way. Many dwellings in the town ended up being completely surrounded by water.


Unusually high temperatures throughout the western United States caused great runoff from snow pack in the Rocky Mountains. This caused flooding which washed out bridges and caused mudslides in parts of Nevada.


An F3 tornado touched down west of Elkader, IA and tracked east northeast at about 45 mph. While the tornado did miss the town of Elkader, it did hit the County Care Facility and killed two residents. More than 20 farmsteads were also struck, with significant damage to dwellings, farm buildings, machinery, livestock, and crops. Total damage in Clayton County, IA alone was estimated at $9 million dollars including $1.5 million dollars at the care facility alone. The tornado crossed the Mississippi River near Bagley, WI. There were 25 injuries in Clayton County and two injuries in Grant County, Wisconsin. An F2 tornado caused over $100,000 worth of damage to area farms north of Livingston, WI. Baseball sized hail fell in Floyd County, Iowa.

Oklahoma City, OK hit 104°, not only setting a record high for the date; but also their earliest 100° on record.


Hanford, WA hit a scorching 104°, breaking the all-time record high temperature for May for eastern Washington. Yakima, WA hit 102° setting a record high for the month of May.

Newark, NJ had their fourth day in a row over 90°, making this a record breaking May heat wave for Newark (May 28-30, 1931).

Flash flooding occurred in Jones County, Mississippi. An estimated 5 inches of rain fell at Laurel over a period of 2 to 3 hours. 45-50 homes were damaged and many cars were stalled on roadways.


Unseasonably warm weather prevailed across the eastern U.S. Several cities, from Virginia to Ohio and Michigan, reported record high temperatures for the date. Afternoon highs of 98° at Newark, NJ and 97° at Baltimore, MD & Washington D.C. were records for the date.


Memorial Day heralded heavy snow in some of the mountains and higher passes of Wyoming, closing roads in Yellowstone Park. McDonald Pass, MT was blanketed with 8 inches of snow, while the temperature at Miles City, MT soared to 94°.

A supercell thunderstorm in west Texas produced baseball size hail in Bailey and Lamb counties, and up to five inches of rain in less than one hour.


Thunderstorms produced severe weather from the Upper Mississippi Valley to the Upper Ohio Valley during the day. A powerful F4 tornado injured three people and caused a million dollars damage at New Providence, IA. Baseball size hail was reported at Blue Earth, MN. Several locations in Wisconsin reported their wettest May day on record including: Necedah: 3.18 inches, Mather: 3.05 inches and Owen: 2.6 inches.


Thunderstorms developing along a warm front spawned 14 tornadoes in northeastern Texas during the late afternoon and evening hours. The thunderstorms also produced baseball size hail near Marshall, wind gusts to 77 mph at Commerce, and up to 5 inches of rain. Thunderstorms over southwestern Kansas produced up to 6 inches of rain.

Heavy rain over Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Canada sets a daily record accumulation for the month of 2.77 inches.


Three thunderstorms produced 5.65 inches of rain in a 3-hour period across New Marlboro and Sheffield, MA resulting in severe flooding. Many roads and several bridges were washed out eventually isolating the two towns. About 89 miles of road were damaged. Typical washouts ranged up to 8 feet deep and roads that were 25 feet wide were reduced to only 10 feet. Power outages were widespread and a state of emergency was declared. The flooding was the worst since 1955 for the area and total damage was estimated near $10 million dollars.

Baltimore, MD set a record high with 98° and Philadelphia, PA set a record May high of 97°.


Strong onshore winds produced rip currents that drowned five people during a festival at American Beach on Amelia Island, FL. Eight other people were hospitalized after nearly drowning in rip currents at American and Main Beaches.


The town of Spencer, SD was virtually wiped off the map by a half-mile wide F4 tornado at approximately 7:30pm CDT. 92% of the homes in the town of 300 were destroyed. Six people died and 150 were injured. Damage totaled $18 million dollars with an another half million dollars in crop damage. Five other tornadoes occurred that night in the vicinity of Spencer. It was the first F4 tornado in South Dakota since 6/7/1993. No one had died in a tornado in South Dakota since 7/14/1970.


San Francisco, CA recorded their all-time high temperature for May with a reading of 101°.


About 40,000 people obtain permits each year to climb dangerous Mount Hood, OR. On this date, a group of four climbers roped together was about 800 feet from the summit at a ledge called the "Pearly Gates," when a misstep by two climbers at the rear of the group pulled them all down and they slid into five other climbers. One by one, the climbers fell into a deep horizontal gash in the ice that forms each spring, many of them falling as much as 250 feet. Three climbers died.


Kimball, NE reached their earliest 100 degree temperature on record with a high of 101°.

The death toll from a two-week heat wave across southern India climbed to 637. At least 119 deaths were reported in Nalgonda and 85 in East Godavari where the temperature soared to 118°.


Afternoon temperature peaks at 87° at Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport, tied the record high set in 1956.


Rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Agatha that pounded an area from southern Mexico nearly to Nicaragua moved over Guatemala after 4.3 inches of rain fell in Guatemala City's valley in a 12-hour period and deluged the coastal community of Champerico who received 11.8 inches of rain in 30 hours. The heavy rains produced rising rivers and deadly landslides that killed at least 99 people in Guatemala.


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Houston, TX area weather & the weekly Weather America Newsletter with Larry Cosgrove at

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