Meteorological events that happened on September 15th:
A great hurricane produced a tide along the South Carolina coast which nearly inundated downtown Charleston. However, just before the tide reached the city, a shift in the wind caused the water level to drop 5 feet in 10 minutes.
Chicago, IL recorded its first temperature of 90° or above for the year. This is the latest such occurrence on record, excluding 1875 when it was never reached.
A four day heat wave peaked across the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. Detroit, MI established a record high for September with 100°. Other record highs included: Rockford, IL: 102° (Also their latest 100° reading), Paducah, KY: 102°, Angola, IN: 101°, St. Louis, MO: 101°, Moline, IL: 100°, Peoria, IL: 100°, Springfield, IL: 100°, Indianapolis, IN: 100°, Detroit, MI: 100°, Flint, MI: 100°, Toledo, OH: 100°, Chicago, IL: 99°, Milwaukee, WI: 99°, Evansville, IN: 99°, Kansas City, MO: 99°-Tied, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN: 98°, Dubuque, IA: 97°, Sioux City, IA: 97°, Grand Rapids, MI: 97°, Cincinnati, OH: 97°, Columbus, OH: 97°-Tied, La Crosse, WI: 96°, Madison, WI: 96°, Rochester, MN: 96°, Mansfield, OH: 96°, Alpena, MI: 95°, Akron, OH: 95°, Green Bay, WI: 94°, Lansing, MI: 94°, St. Cloud, MN: 93°, Houghton Lake, MI: 93°, Cleveland, OH: 92°, Youngstown, OH: 92°, Elkins, WV: 90°, Duluth, MN: 89° and Ste. St. Marie, MI: 89°.
A hurricane entered the south Florida coast at Homestead, curving northward right up through the center of Florida, remaining over land, and exited near Jacksonville Beach with winds gusting to 170 mph. Three Navy blimp hangars that were used as evacuation shelters for 25 Navy blimps, 183 military planes, 153 civilian planes and 150 automobiles were destroyed. The three great hangars were torn to pieces at the height of the storm, then caught fire and burned with all their contents. Hurricane force winds were felt as far inland as the Orlando and Ocala areas. Four deaths were attributed to this storm and damage totaled $55 million dollars.
Between the 12th and the 15th, 146.61 inches of rain fell at Cherrapunji, India.
Sioux Falls, SD residents received a rude awakening during the morning hours as thunderstorms rolled through the city. Over 2.5 inches of rain fell in the city in an hour and 15 minutes. The large amount of rain in a short period of time led to street flooding in some areas. Lightning strikes from the storms also started several small fires.
A snowstorm over Wyoming produced 16.9 inches at Lander to establish a 24 hour record for September for that location.
The first snow of the season was observed at the Winter Park ski resort in Colorado. 8 inches was reported at the Summit of Mount Evans, along with wind gusts to 61 mph.
Early morning thunderstorms in Texas produced up to 6 inches of rain in Real County. Two occupants of a car drowned, and the other six occupants were injured as it was swept into Camp Wood Creek, near the town of Leakey.
Late afternoon and evening thunderstorms produced severe weather in central and northeastern Oklahoma. Wind gusts to 70 mph and golf ball size hail were reported around Oklahoma City.
Thunderstorms brought much needed rains to parts of the central U.S. Rainfall totals of 2.87 inches at Sioux City, IA and 4.59 inches at Kansas City, MO were records for the date. Up to 8 inches of rain deluged the Kansas City area, nearly as much rain as was received the previous eight months.
Hurricane Gilbert, meanwhile, slowly churned toward the U.S./Mexican border.
Showers and thunderstorms produced locally heavy rain in the Central Appalachians. Virgie, VA received 2.60 inches of rain during the evening hours, and Bartlett, TN was deluged with 2.75 inches in just 90 minutes. Heavy rain left five cars partially submerged in high water in a parking lot at Bulls Gap, TN. Thunderstorms over central North Carolina drenched the Fayetteville area with 4 to 8 inches of rain in just 4 hours during the late evening. Flash flooding, and a couple of dam breaks, claimed the lives of two people, and caused $10 million dollars damage.
Since aircraft reconnaissance began flying into hurricanes in 1944, thousands of flights have been made into hurricanes and typhoons in the Atlantic and Pacific. A total of 4 flights have gone down, and a few close calls, but none as close as the one on this date with Hurricane Hugo. Hugo, churning over the waters of the Caribbean, strengthened to a very dangerous category 4 hurricane, packing winds of 150 mph.
A widespread early frost greeted northwest Iowa. Light winds and clear skies allowed temperatures to dip into the upper 20s to lower 30s. Due to the cool and rainy weather of the summer past, crop maturity was lagging its normal rate by about three weeks. Crop damage of tens of millions of dollars was reported in several areas, especially the far northwest corner of Iowa.
Marilyn struck the Virgin Islands as a Category 3 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and an estimated minimum central pressure of 952 millibars or 28.11 inHg. The strongest, most damaging part of the storm passed directly over the island of St. Thomas. The island of Culebra reported an unofficial wind gust of 125 mph. Storm surge was generally 6 to 7 feet with an isolated 11.7 storm surge in St. Croix. 80% of the homes and business on St. Thomas were destroyed and 10,000 people were left homeless. 30% of the homes on St. John were destroyed and 60% were left roofless. Marilyn caused 8 deaths and $1.5 billion dollars in damage.
Las Vegas, NV recorded 0.02 inches of rain, setting a daily record. This was the only time measurable rainfall was recorded on this date since records began in 1937.
An incorrect hurricane forecast can kill hundreds, but an unnecessary evacuation can cost millions and put the population in harm's way. That is the dilemma facing forecasters every time a major hurricane threatens a coastline. In the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, many residents along the east coast were second guessing the huge evacuations that were ordered by officials as the hurricane approached the coast.
A large 588 to 594 decameter heat ridge extended from the Rockies to the southwest bringing record high temperatures for the date including: Salt Lake City, UT: 97°, Pocatello, ID: 96°, Billings, MT: 95°, Great Falls, MT: 95°, Havre, MT: 94°, Helena, MT: 94°, Grand Junction, CO: 94°-Tied, Denver, CO: 92°, Casper, WY: 92°, Lander, WY: 91°, Cheyenne, WY: 89° and Alamosa, CO: 83°-Tied.
A new national daily record for September was set for Hungary when the city of Sopron dropped to a chilly 47°.
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