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Weather History: May 9: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, lightning, wind & snow

Meteorological events that happened on May 9th:


Portland, OR had its latest freeze when the temperature fell to 32°. This is the only May freeze in Portland's history.


An F4 tornado moved across Floyd, Chickasaw, and Winneshiek Counties in northeast Iowa from two miles north of Pearl Rock to Calmar. Two people died just east of Calmar, when the tornado was a mile wide. Losses in and near Calmar totaled $250,000. Overall, this tornado killed 7 people and injured 15 others. An F3 tornado initially touched down a mile south of Pachard, IA then moved east northeast into Chickasaw County, Iowa and dissipated three miles east of Pearl Rock. A woman was killed there when a dozen homes were damaged. As many as 30 people hid in a single cellar. Overall, it killed one person, injured 5 other, and caused $50,000 dollars in property damage.


Yosemite Valley, CA received 7.5 inches of snow, their biggest May snowfall on record.


It was the latest opening of navigation on record at Buffalo, NY.


A major tornado outbreak occurred from Texas to Michigan. There were 28 tornadoes rated F2 or greater. Nine separate tornadoes killed five or more people making this day one of the worst tornado days in U.S. history. A tornado touched down 5 miles east of Morrisonville, IL, then moved northeast to Decatur. In Christian County, the tornado killed one person and caused 67 injuries. The tornado widened in the Decatur area, did minor damage to over 1,000 homes, and injured 50 people. Popular Bluff, MO was devastated by an F4 tornado. 98 people were killed and 300 were injured. 31 business and residential blocks were destroyed in the city. Strong, AR was leveled by another F4 tornado with 24 people killed. St. Louis, MO reported a wind gust of 75 mph.

Behind the storm, Chadron, NE reported two inches of snow. They also set their greatest daily precipitation on record for May with 2.31 inches.


A tornado causing F4 damage moved through Monroe, Cumberland, and Russell Counties in Kentucky along a 60-mile path. The town of Tompkinsville, KY was the hardest hit with 18 people killed. Overall, 36 people lost their lives.


An outbreak of tornadoes occurred in central and eastern Oklahoma with more than 10 tornadoes. The most significant tornado, an F4, touched down near Harden City in Pontotoc County, and produced a path of devastation before lifting north of Stonewall. Seven people were killed and another 12 injured by the twister. Many head of cattle were killed and 20 oil derricks north of Harden City were destroyed.


A supercell thunderstorm formed over eastern Greer County, in southwest Oklahoma. This storm then proceeded to drop hail larger than baseballs along its entire 135 mile path into the south central parts of the state. The damage was enormous. An Air Force plane that flew into the storm near Cooperton, in Kiowa County, disintegrated and crashed due to the barrage of hail, killing six people. Large hail damaged every roof in the community of Fletcher, just northeast of Fort Sill.


Record snows fell in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, including 5.4 inches at Youngstown, OH and 3.1 inches at Pittsburgh, PA. Snow also extended across parts of New York State, with 8 inches reported in the southern Adirondacks. A couple of inches was reported in parts of western New York state with 0.1 inches at Buffalo, NY.

Behind the storm, Owen, WI dropped to 13°; their coldest May temperature.


Terrace, British Columbia Canada set a record May low of 28°.


A late season snowstorm hit parts of Pennsylvania, New York State, and southern and central New England. Heavier snowfall totals included 27 inches at Slide Mountain, NY and 20 inches at Norwalk, CT. At Boston, MA it was the first May snow in 107 years of records and heaviest with 0.5 inches. The heavy wet snow caused extensive damage to trees and power lines. A half a million people were without power days following the storm.

Las Vegas, NV recorded 0.15 inches of rain. This is the only time measurable rain has fallen on this day.


Tummel Bridge, at Tayside, Great Britain recorded the countries greatest 24-hour temperature range; from a morning low of 19° to an afternoon high of 72°.


A heat wave occurred across the east coast: Notable afternoon highs included 95° at Boston, MA and 94° at New York City.

In contrast, beginning the previous day ending on this day, heavy snow blanketed parts of Montana. Some totals included: Red Lodge: 16 inches, Sheridan: 12 inches, Mystic Lake: 7 inches and Pryor/Broadus: 2 inches.


A tanker rammed the massive Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, FL. 30 people died as part of the bridge collapsed.


Lightning struck some trees about 150 yards away from a home in Alabama, and followed the driveway to the home. The charge went through the house and burned all the electrical outlets, ruined appliances, and blasted a hole in the concrete floor of the basement.


Strong thunderstorms produced high winds and copious rainfall amounts in eastern South Dakota. The strong winds blew down an overhang and porch near Brandon, but more impressive were the rainfall amounts. 2 to 4 inches of rain were common over much of eastern South Dakota including a 7.5 inch total at Redfield. The heavy rainfall caused extensive flooding, with Walworth and Potter counties reporting the most damage. In those counties many roads and several bridges were washed out. In Lyman County, a dam on Lake Byre broke leaving water waist deep in the town of Kennebec. 7 inches of rain in three hours caused severe flooding in Des Moines, IA. The flooding damaged 530 homes and did $16 million dollars in damage. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.


Lightning killed two men standing under a tree on a golf course in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Two people who did not go under the tree were not injured.

Unseasonably warm weather spread from the Pacific Northwest to the upper Mississippi Valley. Many cities reported record high temperatures for the date; including: Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN: 91°, Eugene, OR: 87°, Olympia, WA: 87°, Havre, MT: 87°, Portland, OR: 86°, Salem, OR: 86°, Billings, MT: 86°, Great Falls, MT: 85°, Sheridan, WY: 83°, Seattle, WA: 81°, Lander, WY: 81° and Quillayute, WA: 70°, It was the fourth day of record warmth for Eugene and Salem, OR.


A strong area of low pressure in the central U.S. produced severe thunderstorms from eastern Texas to the Upper Ohio Valley. A strong F3 tornado ripped through Middleboro, KY causing more than $22 million dollars damage. Thunderstorms in east central Texas produced hail 3.5 inches in diameter at Groesbeck, and near Fairfield.


Thunderstorms developing ahead of a cold front in the south central U.S. produced golf ball size hail and wind gusts to 62 mph at Mira, LA, and during the morning hours drenched Stuttgart, AR with 5 inches of rain.

Borrego Springs, CA soared to a record high of 108°.


Thunderstorms produced severe weather in the central U.S. during the evening hours, mainly from southeastern Missouri to southwestern Indiana. Severe thunderstorms spawned 4 tornadoes, including two strong F2 tornadoes in southern Illinois. Strong thunderstorm winds gusted to 100 mph at West Salem and to 85 mph at Orient, IL. Thunderstorms drenched northeastern Illinois with up to 4.50 inches of rain.

22.4 inches of snow fell at Marquette, MI after temperatures the day before were in the 70s.

A cyclone struck India, killing 1,000 people. The storm surge was measured at 22 feet.


May of 1993 was very wet across the state of Iowa, which was just of prelude of flooding to come in the summer of 1993. Statewide, rain was recorded somewhere in Iowa on 26 of the 31 days in the month and statewide precipitation averaged 5.68 inches or 143% of normal. Flood warnings for mainstem river flooding were issued for the Rock River and the upper portion of the Des Moines river in northwest Iowa during the second week of May. A record crest occurred on the Rock River at Rock Rapids measuring 12.53 feet, which was six feet above flood stage. Damage in Lyon county alone was near $2 million and the city of Rock Rapids had 56 houses damaged. The crest of the river occurred between the 8th and 9th.


Severe weather struck central Illinois, with numerous reports of hail and tornadoes. The strongest tornado developed northwest of Springfield during the late afternoon, moving northeast affecting the small town of Cantrall. The tornado then moved into southern Logan County through the town of Elkhart. The tornado was on the ground for 40 miles, finally lifting in eastern Logan County, about 5 miles northeast of the town of Beason. 6 people were injured by these tornadoes, with damage estimated around $10 million dollars. Severe thunderstorms also produced two strong tornadoes in northwest parts of Illinois, each of which traveled over 40 miles.

A 7-year-old girl was killed when a lightning bolt directly struck her as she played softball in a park at Lighthouse Point in Broward County, Florida. The thunderstorm was about 5 miles northwest of the park when the lightning struck in the midst of 10 children and coaches. The park is surrounded by trees.


In western Kansas, hail and wind cut a path 2 miles wide along highway 96 across all of Lane County. Hail was piled 6 inches deep and was visible for several days. Property damage across the county was more than $2.5 million dollars. Siding was extensively damaged on many homes, roofs were damaged, and trees had the bark stripped off. Eight power poles were broken along highway 96.

An 8 mile wide area of hail and wind moved across Ness County along and near highway 96. Golf ball size hail and 80 mph winds were produced by a vicious thunderstorm that moved all the way from Scott County during the late evening hours. Damage across the county topped $1 million dollars.


A severe heat wave affected much of central and southeastern India through the 15th with daily high temperatures up to 122°. The intense heat resulted in 1,000 deaths.


A late spring snowstorm hammered the parts of the Colorado Rockies. The heaviest snowfall occurred north of I-70. The heavy wet snow caused damage to trees and downed power lines across much of metro Denver affecting 40,000 people. Snowfall totals included: 11.5 inches at Louisville, 8 inches at Boulder & Broomfield and 7 inches at Thornton and at Denver International Airport. In the foothills, 15 inches of snow fell near Jamestown, 9 inches at Rollinsville and Rawah with 8 inches at Chief Hosa and atop Lookout Mountain. The snow was accompanied by thunder at the Denver International Airport.

This was the last day of a 3-day string of strong to violent tornadoes over Oklahoma. During the evening hours, tornadoes ripped through areas from near Binger, in Caddo County, east and northeast through Union City, Bethany and Warr Acres, into the northern parts of Oklahoma City, Wellston and Stroud. The strongest tornado produced F3 damage as it tore through the northeastern Oklahoma City and Luther areas. Remarkably, there were only 10 injuries and no fatalities. The low numbers are attributed to the preparedness and actions taken by Oklahomans, emergency management, broadcast media, and the National Weather Service Forecast Office.

An F1 tornado, accompanied by 60 mph downburst winds and tennis ball sized hail, struck five miles south of Pierceton, IN. An empty unsecured mobile home was blown 150 feet and many trees were uprooted. 70 mph winds were reported at South Whitley. Softball sized hail fell two miles north of Columbia City and five miles west of Columbia City.


A late-season snowfall event occurred across the high Sierra in California beginning the previous day through early on this date. Some snowfall totals included: 16 inches at Tunnel Guard and 13 inches at Volcanic Knob.


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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