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Weather History: September 4: Record temps, dust, storms, wind & flooding

Listed are Meteorological events that happened on September 4th:


An intense hurricane struck Galveston Bay, TX, driving five Spanish treasure ships aground. Most of the treasure was salvaged, but the ships were totaled.


The Netherlands' hottest September day occurred as Maastricht hit 95.4°.


The remnants of a hurricane tracked northeastward across northern Baja California into southwest Arizona starting on this day and ending on 9/6. Up to 7 inches of rain fell on the mountains and deserts. Blythe, CA received more rain than would normally fall in a year and Imperial, CA received more rain than would normally fall in two years. Four tropical cyclones would impact Southern California during the month of September 1939, an unprecedented occurrence. 1.21 inches fell at San Diego, CA. Floods through eastern canyons inundated Thermal, CA with three feet of water. Extensive damage occurred in Mecca.

A thunderstorm deluged Washington D.C. with 4.4 inches of rain in two hours. September of that year was very dry across much of the nation, and Washington D.C. received more rain in that two hour period than most other places in the country that entire month.


Five people were killed when a tornado struck Minneapolis, MN.


Record heat blasted parts of the Southwest into the Plains. The high of 108° established the record high for the month of September at Liberal, KS.

Other daily records included: Yuma, AZ: 116°, Phoenix, AZ: 112°, Las Vegas, NV: 109°, Tucson, AZ: 106°, Grand Island, NE: 103°, Concordia, KS: 102°, Dodge City, KS: 102°, Amarillo, TX: 102°, Goodland, KS: 100°, Pueblo, CO: 98°-Tied and Flagstaff, AZ: 90°.


A ridge across the Rockies brought record heat. Billings, MT high temperature was 100 degrees, their record latest occurrence of 100 degrees. Other record highs included: Miles City, MT 105°, Stockton, CA: 104°, Columbus/Roundup, MT: 102°, Glasgow, MT: 100°, Salt Lake City, UT: 98°, Havre, MT: 97°, Pocatello, ID: 95°, Helena, MT: 93° and Ely, NV: 89°-Tied.


Hurricane Betsy stalled 350 miles east of Jacksonville, FL just before the busy Labor Day holiday weekend, causing major headaches for weather forecasters.


The greatest natural disaster on record for Arizona occurred. Unprecedented rains courtesy of the remnants of Tropical Storm Norma caused rivers in central Arizona to rise 5 to 10 feet per hour, sweeping cars and buildings as far as 30 to 40 miles downstream. Flooding claimed 23 lives, mainly campers, and caused millions of dollars damage. Water crested 36 feet above normal near Sunflower, AZ. Workman's Creek was deluged with 11.40 inches of rain in 24 hours to establish a state record.


Record heat occurred across parts of the Midwest and Plains ahead of a strong cold front. Record highs included: El Paso, TX: 101°, Roswell, NM: 100°-Tied, Midland-Odessa, TX: 99°-Tied, Albuquerque, NM: 97°, Clayton, NM: 97°, Fort Wayne, IN: 95° and Chicago, IL: 95°-Tied.


A tropical air mass lasting two weeks and high sea surface temperatures led to record minimum temperature records set each day except one at San Diego starting on this date and ending on the 19th. Low temperatures ranged from 73° to the highest minimum of all time of 78° on this day and on 9/17. The high was 100° on 9/8. The low temperature of 80° reached in both Santa Ana and Escondido are each the highest minimum temperature on record. San Diego reached 100°, the hottest day since 9/15/1979. Poor air quality and high humidity caused numerous health problems.


An unusually strong dust devil moved across Flagstaff, AZ’s Pulliam Airport. The dust devil blew open the doors of the National Weather Service office scattering papers and bringing down a ceiling-mounted light fixture.


Thunderstorms developing along a stationary front produced heavy rain across the Southern Atlantic Coast. Up to 8 inches was reported north of Charleston SC. Monks Corner, SC reported serious flooding.

Several cities in the northeastern U.S. reported record low temperatures for the date; including Houlton ME dipped to 32°, Concord, NH: 34°, Portland, ME: 39°, Burlington, VT: 40°, Binghamton, NY: 40°, Rochester, NY: 40°-Tied, Milton, MA: 46° and New York (LaGuardia Airport), NY: 57°-Tied.


The western U.S. experienced another day of record heat. The afternoon high of 91° at Stampede Pass, WA established an all-time record for that location, and Downtown Los Angeles CA equaled their all-time record high with a reading of 110°. A record high of 107° at San Diego, CA was their hottest reading in 25 years. Red Bluff, CA was the hot spot in the nation with an afternoon reading of 118°. Other record highs included: Redding, CA: 115°, Bakersfield, CA: 109°, Santa Ana, CA: 108°, Sacramento, CA: 108°, Escondido, CA: 107°, Fresno, CA: 107°, Long Beach, CA: 107°, Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 106°, Stockton, CA: 105°, Reno, CA: 100°, Yakima, WA: 98°, Spokane, WA: 96° and Kalispell, MT: 91.


A large area of thunderstorms developed over eastern Nebraska and moved into western Iowa. In southwest Iowa in Mills County, one of the thunderstorm cells became severe and produced violent winds which ripped a portion of a roof off a business in Mineola, IA. The windows were also blown out. In addition, tree damage was widespread and some of the trees which fell landed on cars. To add insult to injury, a small tornado touched down twice in Mineola, but damage from the tornado was minor compared to the damage done by the straight line winds. The storms also produced heavy rains 1.5 to 3.5 inches with locally higher amounts of up to 7 inches. Creston, NE reported 6.97 inches.

It was also a soggy Labor Day for northern Florida. Jacksonville reported 6.82 inches of rain and evening thunderstorms produced 2.75 inches of rain in one hour at Sandlewood.


A strong 594 decameter heat ridge brought record highs across parts of the Rockies to the southern Plains. Denver, CO hit 97° equaling a September (9/5/1899, 9/5/1960 & 9/1/1995). Other record highs included: Dallas, TX: 102°, San Angelo, TX: 101°, Grand Junction, CO: 100°, Houston, TX: 100°-Tied, Galveston, TX: 98°, Lake Charles, LA: 98° and Lander, WY: 94°.


Hurricane Fran reached peak strength of 120 mph 275 miles off the east coast of Florida. The Space Shuttle Atlantis had to be rolled back from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral as the storm threatened the east coast of Florida. The storm would make landfall the following evening on the North Carolina coast to become the most damaging hurricane of the 1996 Atlantic season.


A strong heat ridge extending from the south to the Rockies produced record high temperatures for the date. Scottsbluff, NE equaled their warmest September temperature with a high of 102°. Other record highs included: Fort Smith, AR: 109°, Dallas, TX: 108°, Dallas (DFW), TX: 108°, Wichita Falls, TX: 108°, Oklahoma City, OK: 107°, Tulsa, OK: 107°, Waco, TX: 106° and Austin (Camp Mabry), TX: 101°.


Tropical Storm Dennis ruined the debut of South Carolina Football Coach Lou Holtz, as North Carolina State took advantage of Mother Nature induced miscues to win a rainy game at Raleigh 10-0.


A strong heat ridge was in control from the central Plains to the Gulf Coast. Houston and College Station, TX recorded their hottest day on record when highs reached 109° and 112° respectively. Other daily record highs included: Wichita Falls, TX: 111°, Waco, TX: 111°, Dallas, (DFW), TX: 111°, Austin, (Bergstrom) TX: 110°, Austin (Camp Mabry), TX: 110°, Dallas, TX: 110°, Victoria, TX: 110°, San Antonio, TX: 109°, Shreveport, LA: 108°, Corpus Christi, TX: 107°, Del Rio, TX: 107°, Abilene, TX: 106°, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 105°, San Angelo, TX: 105°, Lake Charles, LA: 105°, Baton Rouge, LA: 104°, Brownsville, TX: 103°, Dodge City, KS: 103°, Amarillo, TX: 102°-T, Galveston, TX: 101°, Lubbock, TX: 101°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 101° and New Orleans, LA: 99°.


A slow moving low pressure system triggered scattered thunderstorms across northern Illinois during the afternoon. A series of slow moving storms moved into and sat over the east side of Rockford. As much as 5 to 10 inches of rain fell in a localized area, while less than 3/4 inch fell nearby at the airport. The heavy rain produced severe flooding of Keith Creek in the late afternoon and early evening. Hundreds of basements were flooded and 15 homes were left uninhabitable. Streets and parking lots were flooded and cars were submerged in water. Damage was estimated around $20 million dollars.


Hurricane Felix came ashore in the pre-dawn hours as a Category 5 storm on the Miskito Coast in Nicaragua. At the time of its landfall, the maximum sustained surface winds were approximately 160 mph. Felix killed at least 130 people along the Miskito Coast, with damage in Nicaragua totaling $46.7 million dollars. With Felix following the footsteps of Hurricane Dean, also a Category 5 hurricane, it marks the first time since record-keeping began that the first two hurricanes of the Atlantic hurricane season reached Category 5 intensity and also the first season where two hurricanes made landfall at Category 5.

As Hurricane Felix walloped the Central American coastline, Hurricane Henriette, also a Category 5 storm, slammed into resorts on the tip of Baja California. This is the first time since records began in 1949 that both Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes make landfall on the same day.

A deluge of 4.29 inches of rain swamped Marquette, MI. The downpour not only smashed the previous maximum precipitation record for the date, but also sets the all-time daily maximum precipitation record since the station was moved to that location in 1961.


The remnants of Hurricane Gustav brought heavy rains to southern Lower Michigan. Muskegon set a daily rainfall record of 3.25 inches and Grand Rapids sets a record with 2.82 inches.


On this date through the 5th, a very strong area of low pressure system, with a minimum central pressure of 970 millibars or 28.64 inHg, moved through Alaska generating hurricane-force wind gusts near Anchorage, causing phone and power outages across most of the city.


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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