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Weather History: May 7: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, floods, wind & snow

Meteorological events that happened on May 7th:


A mile wide tornado destroyed the town of Natchez, MS killing 317 people. This was the worst tornado in United States history to occur before the establishment of the Weather Bureau.


The Washington Evening Star began publishing newspaper weather reports from the observations made by Joseph Henry's network of volunteer weather observers.


A powerful wind storm struck Lethbridge, Alberta Canada causing the hour hand on the clock of the towns’ post office tower to break off. The falling steel hand narrowly missed a passing pedestrian.


Two massive F5 tornadoes combined for a 95 mile path of destruction through Comanche, Barber, Kingman, Reno, and McPherson Counties in Kansas. The death toll was 10 and 300 were injured. Damage was set at $1.3 million dollars. The tornado’s path width reached two miles at one point.


The temperature at White Mountain, CA, dipped to -15° to set a record for May for the continental U.S.

Palm Springs, CA set a May record low when they dropped to 36°. Locations that reported daily record lows included: Tanana, AK: 12°-Tied, Cordova, AK: 27-Tied, Boise, ID: 31°, Los Angeles (Civic Center), CA: 46°-Tied and San Diego (WFO), CA: 49°-Tied.


The eastern half of South Dakota was choked by a dust storm. Strong winds which occasionally exceeded 60 mph whipped dust high into the air reducing visibilities to near zero at times. The low visibilities were responsible for many accidents on area highways. A large amount of top soil was eroded and carried away by the wind in some areas erosion was so bad that small grain crops had to be re-seeded.


Many cities in the western U.S. reported record high temperatures for the date. Highs of 93° at Portland, OR and San Jose, CA were the warmest of record for so early in the season. The high of 92° at Quillayute, WA was a record for May.

Other daily record highs included: Stockton, CA: 103°, Sacramento, CA: 101°, Fresno, CA: 103°, Redding, CA: 101°, Sacramento, CA: 101°, Bakersfield, CA: 101°, Medford, OR: 97°, Salem, OR: 94°, Yakima, WA: 93°, Eugene, OR: 90°, Spokane, WA: 88°, Burns, OR: 85°, Olympia, WA: 84°, Astoria, OR: 83°, Eureka, CA: 82° and Seattle, WA: 81°.


A powerful storm in the north central U.S. produced up to three feet of snow in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming and the mountains of south central Montana. Up to 5 inches of rain drenched central Montana in less than 24 hours, and flash flooding in Wyoming caused a million dollars damage.


Many cities in the central and eastern U.S. reported record low temperatures for the date. Dodgeville, WI dropped to 24° and Montello, WI fell to 25° setting May records. Locations that reported record lows included: Madison, WI: 24°, Traverse City, MI: 24°, St. Cloud, MN: 26°, Mason City, IA: 26°, Altoona, PA: 27°, Waterloo, IA: 28°, Dubuque, IA: 28°, South Bend, IN: 28°, Fort Wayne, IN: 28°, Lincoln, NE: 29°, Norfolk, NE: 29°, Milwaukee, WI: 29°, Moline, IL: 29°, Chicago (O’Hare), IL: 29°, Springfield, MO: 31°, Topeka, KS: 32°, Quincy, IL: 33°, Lexington, KY: 33°, Asheville, KY: 33°, Bristol, TN: 33°, Fayetteville, AR: 34°, Paducah, KY: 35°, Emporia, KS: 36°, Louisville, KY: 36°, Hickory, NC: 36°, Jackson, TN: 37°, Knoxville, TN: 37°, Rome, GA: 37°, Kansas City, MO: 38°, Fort Smith, AR: 38°, Danville, VA: 39°, Charlotte, NC: 40°, Anderson, SC: 40°, Huntsville, AL: 41°, Tuscaloosa, AL: 41°, Nashville, TN: 41°, Wilmington, NC: 41°, Florence, SC: 41°, Anniston, AL: 42°, Montgomery, AL: 44°, Tallahassee, FL: 47° and Pine Bluff, AR: 48°.

24 hour snowfall totals of 7.2 inches at Buffalo, NY and 10.7 inches at Rochester, NY were records for the month of May.

While northerly winds ushered unseasonably cold air into the eastern U.S., temperatures warmed rapidly in the Great Plains Region, reaching the 90s in Kansas. The temperature at Manhattan KS soared from a low of 30° to a high of 88°. Death Valley National Park recorded a high temperature of 114° setting a daily record. Other locations that set daily record highs for the date included: Phoenix, AZ: 108°, Blythe, CA: 108°, Palm Springs, CA: 107°, Needles, CA: 106°, Daggett, CA: 104°, Las Vegas, NV: 102°, Wink, TX: 102°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 101°, Carlsbad, NM: 100°, Roswell, NM: 98°, El Paso, TX: 98°, Victorville, CA: 96°, Dodge City, KS: 93°, Winslow, AZ: 92°, Albuquerque, NM: 92°, Salt Lake City, UT: 87°, Cedar City, UT: 85°, Bismarck, ND: 85°, Ely, NV: 83°, Palomar Mountain, CA: 82°, Flagstaff, AZ: 81°, Alamosa, CA: 81° and Big Bear Lake, CA: 77°.


Gale force winds lashed the northern and central Pacific coast. A wind gust of 52 mph at Eureka, CA established a record for the month of May. Strong winds associated with a fast moving Pacific cold front, gusted to 63 mph at Peetz, CO. Snow developed over the northwest mountains of Wyoming late in the day, and Yellowstone National Park was whitened with 6 to 14 inches.


A freak snowstorm in the North Carolina Mountains dumped 40 inches at Mt. Pisgah and 18 inches at Mt. Mitchell.


Severe weather erupted across South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota ahead of an approaching cold front. Tornadoes, large hail, strong winds, and flash flooding all affected the area. A tornado traveled north near I-29 destroying a farmstead and tossing vehicles. The tornado destroyed a large barn silo, and numerous outbuildings just north of Beresford, SD. The tornado overturned an 11,000 lb. tractor, but that was only a warm-up for the 34,000 lb. semi-truck that the storm lifted off the ground and threw into the ditch. The storm also blew several cars off of an exit ramp.

Strong thunderstorm winds estimated at over 100 mph destroyed an apartment building, 5 mobile homes, 15 garages, 16 vehicles, and damaged many other homes and vehicles in the Brookings area in South Dakota. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 7 inches in less than three hours were common across southeast South Dakota and southwest Minnesota causing flash flooding. Several hundred homes and businesses were flooded across southwest Minnesota causing $1.6 million dollars in damage in Rock County alone.

Serious flooding occurred in central Oklahoma following torrential rain and hail on this date through the 8th. Rainfall amounts on this date were generally around one inch. Oklahoma City, OK then recorded 6.64 inches of rain on the 8th, the third greatest daily rainfall amount ever observed in the city. Extensive flooding resulted, which killed four people, and the fire department had to rescue 183 others. More than 2,000 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, and damages were estimated at $8 million.


Severe thunderstorms struck Aurora, CO. Hailed piled 4 to 5 inches deep in the vicinity of Quincy Reservoir in south Aurora. Lightning struck an Aurora Police Communications Tower causing significant malfunction to the primary system. Minor damage was sustained when lightning struck an apartment building. Hail up to 1.25 inches in diameter accumulated 6 inches deep in just 15 minutes. Many streets were closed for an hour or more due to flooding caused by heavy rain and melting hail. Some trees were stripped of their leaves. Hail, up to a half inch in diameter was measured at Denver International Airport where a funnel cloud was sighted. One inch of rain fell at Cheyenne, WY.

An F3 tornado cut a 34 mile path across Love and Carter Counties in south central Oklahoma, while on the ground for over an hour killing three people and doing over $100 million dollars in damages; $75 million in Ardmore alone. Major damage was done to the Uniroyal plant.


The temperature at Caribou, ME soared to 81° to establish a new record high in a week of very warm temperatures across Maine. It was the fourth consecutive day that record high temperatures were set at Caribou. Temperatures for the first seven days of the month averaged 14.2 degrees above normal.


The Stickleman family of Brady, NE had their own tornado early warning system. Their English Setter, Champ, headed for the basement anytime severe weather threatened. On this date, the dog headed for the basement and stayed until a tornado appeared on the horizon. The tornado destroyed their farmhouse as the family took shelter with Champ in the basement. Fortunately, everyone was safe. Animals do seem to have a special ability to sense approaching bad weather.


An afternoon of heavy rain caused flooding in the Birmingham, AL area. Persistent thunderstorms dumped 5.71 inches on the airport over a six hour period during the afternoon and early evening, but the heaviest rainfall total came from Trussville, on the northeast side of Birmingham, where over 9 inches fell. Flooding was severe from Fultondale to Roebuck to the Trussville area, where water entered several businesses and overran the waste water treatment plant, dumping raw sewage into the Cahaba River.

This date marked the first day of a three-day barrage of tornadic thunderstorms over Oklahoma. The first tornadoes occurred over southwest and south central Oklahoma during the late evening into the overnight hours. The strongest tornadoes with this initial activity were rated as F2, and they occurred in the Cornish, Overbrook, and Antioch areas of extreme south central Oklahoma. Although there was over $250,000 in damage, no injuries or fatalities were reported.


On this date through the 8th, winter weather returned to the Nickel Belt, with snow and high winds. The storm dropped 2.8 inches of snow on North Bay, Ontario Canada breaking a May record that has stood for 33 years.


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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