Meteorological events that happened on October 21st:
Columbus made landfall on San Salvador Island under clear skies. Fortunately, he met no hurricanes on the first voyage through March of 1493, although the "Santa Maria" was wrecked on a reef off of Cuba.
A tornado struck a church in southwest England during a service, reportedly killing as many as 50 people.
Benjamin Franklin made the revolutionary discovery that the wind in storm systems rotate in a counter clockwise direction. Franklin was waiting in Philadelphia, PA that night to view a lunar eclipse, but had his opportunity foiled by a nor'easter. Franklin later discovered that his brother in Boston, MA was able to observe the eclipse clearly and the storm did not arrive at his location until four hours later. It puzzled Franklin that the system seemed to move from southwest to northeast even though winds at his location were from the northeast. He theorized the winds in the storm system must have been rotating around a center. A brilliant deduction considering he had no satellite to show the big picture.
Spanish Admiral Solano was en-route from Havana, Cuba to Pensacola, FL to capture the important port city. The 3rd major hurricane of the month swept north through the Gulf of Mexico catching and scattering the fleet of 64 warships.
A severe windstorm lashed the northern Pacific coast. In Washington State, the storm claimed the lives of 22 people, and caused $1.7 million dollars damage, mostly to timber. Winds, gusting to 87 mph at North Head, WA, and waves were more than 20 feet high, even in the inland waters of Puget Sound and Lake Washington.
The Hector Glacier crashed to the valley floor northeast of Lake Louise in Alberta Canada. The valley was buried under a 1.25 mile wide by 2.5 mile long pile of ice rubble. The wind created by the falling avalanche blew down all trees on the opposite side of the valley.
The second in a series of unusual October storms hit southern California, causing widespread thunderstorms. Santa Maria was drenched with 1.13 inches of rain in two hours, hail drifted as high as 18 inches in eastern Los Angeles, and waterspouts were sighted off Point Mugu and Oceanside.
An unnamed hurricane at Mazatlan, Mexico produced winds of up to 130 mph before the anemometer blew away. Eight people died when the jail at Mazatlan was destroyed.
It is one of the coldest mornings on record in western Lower Michigan with temperatures falling into the teens. Grand Rapids fell to 18°, their lowest October temperature on record.
After three consecutive days of being postponed by rain, the sixth game of the 1975 World Series was finally played at Fenway Park in Boston, MA.
Records for 24-hour October rainfall were recorded at Decatur, IL with 4.09 inches, and at Champaign, IL with 3.72 inches courtesy of the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Tico.
Hail as large as eggs pounded Travis County and the city of Austin, TX, causing over $14 million in damage. Car dealers reported that every car on their lots sustained damaged. The hail fell along a path 5 miles wide and 20 miles long.
Cold arctic air continued to invade the central U.S. Several record lows were reported in the Great Plains Region, including lows of 9° at Aberdeen, SD and 12° at Valentine, NE. Temperatures warmed rapidly during the day in the Southern and Central Plains. Goodland, KS warmed from a morning low of 24° to an afternoon high of 75°.
Hurricane Joan lashed Nicaragua with 125 mph winds, causing $1.5 billion dollars in damage and killing more than 200 people. Joan was remarkable in several regards. The storm held a straight westward course for over 40 degrees of longitude never straying north of 12 degrees. Another amazing fact was that the hurricane transported African locusts 2,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean islands.
Unseasonably cold weather continued to grip the south central and southeastern U.S. Many cities reported record low temperatures for the date, including Calico, AR with 26°, and Daytona Beach, FL with a low of 41°.
Snow squalls deposited 12.7 inches on Marquette, MI in 24 hours to set a new 24 hour record for the month of October.
A state of emergency was declared in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine after a powerful coastal storm dumped over a foot of rain causing massive flooding. Portland, ME recorded 7.92 inches of rainfall in 24 hours to set their rainfall record.
A tropical depression formed in the southwest Caribbean Sea, about 360 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica. This disturbance would intensify over the next few days to become Hurricane Mitch, a monster storm that would eventually become the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record, behind "The Great Hurricane" of 1780 in the Caribbean.
An unusually strong 594 decameter heat ridge covered most of the west bringing record high temperatures for the date including: Palm Springs, CA: 108°, Borrego Springs, CA: 104°, Yuma, AZ: 104°, Phoenix, AZ: 103°, Escondido, CA: 102°, Tucson, AZ: 96°-Tied, Victorville, CA: 95°, Wichita Falls, TX: 95°, Las Vegas, NV: 94°, Bakersfield, CA: 94°-Tied, Fresno, CA: 93°, Lubbock, TX: 90°, Stockton, CA: 90°-Tied, Pueblo, CO: 89°, Bishop, CA: 89°, Pendleton, OR: 88°, Idyllwild, CA: 87°, Dodge City, KS: 87°-Tied, Billings, MT: 85°, Glasgow, MT: 85°, Winnemucca, NV: 85°, Colorado Springs, CO: 84°, Sheridan, WY: 84, Boise, ID: 84, Reno, NV: 84, Miles City, MT: 84, Palomar Mountain, CA: 83°, Denver, CO: 83°, Havre, MT: 83°, Lewiston, ID: 83°, Elko, NV: 83°, Medford, CA: 83, Yakima, WA: 83, Helena, MT: 82, Lander, WY: 82, Burns, OR: 82, Ely, NV: 81°, Portland, OR: 81°, Albuquerque, NM: 81°-Tied, Grand Junction, CO: 80°, Missoula, MT: 80°, Salem, OR: 80°, Big Bear Lake, CA: 78°, Cheyenne, WY: 78°, Pocatello, ID: 78°, Spokane, WA: 77°, Bozeman, MT: 77°, Alamosa, CO: 76°, Kalispell, MT: 75°, Butte, MT: 75°, Flagstaff, AZ: 75° and West Yellowstone, MT: 72°.
Very strong Santa Ana winds developed on this day and continued through the 23rd. A gust of 85 mph was recorded at Fremont Canyon, 79 mph at San Bernardino, 75 mph at Descanso and Mira Loma, 74 mph at Fallbrook and Rancho Cucamonga. Some locations experienced tropical storm force winds or greater for more than 36 consecutive hours. Winds caused at least $60 million dollars in damage and destruction to buildings, fences, vehicles, etc. The devastating wildfires of 2007 were fanned by these winds. These fires caused one million Californians to evacuate, the largest mass evacuation in California history.
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