Meteorological events that happened on September 20th:
The Great Adirondack Tornado traveled 275 miles across Lake Ontario, NY, Lake Champlain, into Vermont. The swath of downed trees caused by the storm was visible for decades.
A devastating hurricane struck the Louisiana coast, coming ashore in Louisiana 50 miles west of New Orleans, during the evening hours near Houma. The hurricane was as intense as the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 with a central pressure of 931 millibars or 27.49 inHg. 350 people were killed as a large section of the Louisiana coast was inundated. The storm surge reached 15 feet in the Timbalier Bay area.
The earliest widespread snowfall for so early in the season occurred across the United Kingdom.
A hurricane that hit Miami, FL on the 18th pounded Pensacola, FL with wind gusts to 152 mph. Winds in excess of 100 mph lasted for 4 hours and above 75 mph for 20 hours. The minimum pressure recorded at Perdido Beach, AL was 955 millbars or 28.20 inHg.
On this date through the 23rd, a rainstorm deluged the Maritime Provinces in Canada. Four day totals included 13.99 inches at Stellarton, Nova Scotia and 10.83 inches at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Halifax, Nova Scotia recorded 9.40 inches.
A tropical storm moving northwesterly just southwest of Baja California dissipated. Moisture from this storm resulted in rainfall of up to two inches in the mountains of southern California and deserts starting on the 19th and ending on the 21st, with most falling on the 19th. This occurred during the El Niño of 1951-52.
A strong upper level ridge was responsible for record highs across Texas & parts of Arizona. Midland set their all-time September record high with 107°. Other daily record highs included: Phoenix, AZ: 105°-Tied, Wichita Falls, TX: 103°, Dallas, TX: 102°, Dallas (DFW), TX: 102°, San Angelo, TX: 102°, Abilene, TX: 101°-Tied and Waco, TX: 100°-Tied.
Hurricane Esther, a Category 4 storm off of Cape Hatteras, NC began to slow down as it moved north-northeast well off the Jersey shore. The storm continued to weaken as it did a 5 day loop south of Cape Cod, MA then moved across Cape Cod and into Maine on the 26th.
Hurricane Beulah made landfall in South Texas as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 160 mph and a central pressure around 931 millibars or 27.49 inHg. Winds gusted to 136 mph at South Padre Island and 109 mph at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Brownsville, TX. 10 to 20 inches of rain was common across much of south Texas with Pettus, TX receiving the highest reported amount of 27.38 inches. The storm produced an incredible 115 tornadoes across South Texas, a record up to that time. This record would be broken with Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The Rio Grande citrus industry was particularly hard hit. At least 58 people lost their lives and damage totaled over $215 million dollars.
On this date through the 23rd, heavy rain over several days brought extensive flooding to the Apalachicola River at Quincy, Havana, and Blountstown; and much of Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Calhoun and Quincy Counties in the Florida panhandle. Havana 23.42", Quincy reported 18.41" of rain and Blountstown 10.41". Several funnel clouds and waterspouts were reported from northwest Florida to the Keys on the 22nd and 23rd.
Britain's greatest September daily rainfall flooded Kent with 7.51 inches.
Much of northwest Iowa received violent severe weather. In O'Brien, Clay, Monona, Crawford and Buena Vista counties, high winds and hail pounded crops and buildings. Winds of 70 to 75 mph blew trees down on power lines, houses and cars. Hail up to the size of baseballs severely damaged crops with over $10 million dollars in losses. In Ricketts, every north and west window was broken from the hail. The strong winds destroyed many farm structures in these counties. In addition, a strong tornado touched down in Spencer completely leveling several metal warehouse buildings in an industrial park.
A chilly Canadian air mass built in across the Rockies into the Plains while a ridge was in place on the west coast. The temperature at West Yellowstone, MT plunged to -6°, while the temperature at downtown San Francisco CA soared to 94°.
Daily record lows across parts of the Rockies and Plains included: Casper, WY: 16°, Pocatello, ID: 19°, Helena, MT: 20°, Cheyenne, WY: 21°, Kalispell, MT: 21°-Tied, Lander, WY: 23°, Missoula, MT: 24°, Sheridan, WY: 25°, Billings, MT: 26°, Scottsbluff, NE: 26°, Denver, CO: 28°, Rapid City, SD: 29°, Goodland, KS: 30°, Lewiston, ID: 34°, Amarillo, TX: 37°-Tied, Kansas City, MO: 38° and Dallas, TX: 50°.
Record highs across northern California: San Francisco (Airport), CA: 93° and Eureka, CA: 86°. That set a September record high at Eureka.
Northward moving Hurricane Manuel dissipated off the west coast of Baja California with up to three inches of rainfall in the southern mountains and deserts on this day through the 21st. This occurred during the strong El Niño of 1982-83.
A slow moving quasi-stationary front produced flash flooding occurred in parts of central Illinois, primarily from near Peoria and Lincoln eastward to Bloomington, as rainfall amounts ranged from 3 to 7 inches. Bloomington reported 7.12 inches in 4 hours during the overnight, causing significant flooding.
Afternoon and evening thunderstorms produced severe weather in Oklahoma and west Texas. In Oklahoma, a thunderstorm at Seiling produced 3 inches of rain in one hour, golf ball size hail, and wind gusts to 60 mph which collapsed a tent at the state fair injuring 9 people.
Showers and thunderstorms produced locally heavy rains in central Wyoming, and snow in some of the higher elevations. Casper WY reported 1.75 inches of rain in 24 hours, and a thunderstorm north of the Wild Horse Reservoir produced 1.90 inches of rain in just 40 minutes.
Hurricane Hugo churned toward the South Atlantic Coast, gradually regaining strength along the way with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph by days end and a minimum central pressure of 950 millibars or 28.05 inHg. Tropical Storm Iris got too close to Hugo, and began to weaken.
A strong late summer storm brought the season’s first snow to parts of the Rockies. Denver, CO reported 4 to 8 inches of heavy wet snow that damaged millions of trees and downed power lines into Boulder leaving 100,000 people without electricity. It took a week to fully restore power to all areas. Total insured losses in the Denver area was $6.5 million dollars. Record cold followed the storm as the low at Denver dropped to 27° the next morning followed by an afternoon high of 36°. Further north, 2 to 8 inches of snow was reported at Cheyenne, WY. They also experienced downed tree limbs and power lines causing power outages.
Record cold accompanied the storm. Record lows included: Glasgow, MT: 20°, Great Falls, MT: 24°, Havre, MT: 24°, Grand Island, NE: 32° and Pueblo, CO: 32°. Viroqua, WI set their all-time record low for September with 20°.
Hurricane Georges reached peak intensity as a strong Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and a central pressure of 937 millibars or 27.67 inHg about 300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. Georges would go on to kill over 600 people in the Caribbean, eventually making it 7th landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast near Biloxi, MS on the 28th.
An F4 tornado devastated some of the same portions of Xenia, OH that were damaged in the April 3, 1974 twister. No tornado warning was issued when the storm struck, raising the ire of local residents.
Record heat prevailed across parts of the southwest courtesy of a large upper level heat ridge. Record highs included: Death Valley, CA: 116°, Palm Springs, CA: 115°, Borrego Springs, CA: 110°, Victorville, CA: 104°, Stockton, CA: 101°, Sacramento, CA: 99°-Tied, Idyllwild, CA: 89°, Palomar Mountain, CA: 87°, Flagstaff, AZ: 83°-Tied and Big Bear Lake, CA: 83°.
Hurricane Gordon passed between the Azore Islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria. Gordon was the first hurricane seen in the Azores since Emmy in 1976 and first tropical storm since Bonnie and Charlie in 1992.
Powerful winds, reaching 73 mph at Happy Valley-Goose Bay whipped across central and coastal Labrador and cause widespread power outages. The winds blew clouds of sand along streets reducing visibility. Winds also tore off roofs and siding and topple hundreds of trees.
Typhoon Wipha made landfall at Cangnan, China, about 240 miles south of Shanghai with sustained winds of 100 mph and torrential rains. The storm killed at least 9 people and destroys thousands of homes. Chinese authorities evacuate a total of 2.7 million people from coastal, flood-prone areas and unsafe housing in Shanghai and other areas affected by the storm. Damage was estimated at $638 million dollars.
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