The Weather Century- 1935-1936
Some of America's most extreme weather occurred in 1935 and 1936. In fact most of the decades records happened in these two years. 19 states recorded minimimum yearly precip rcords, 11 states had lowest on-day temp records, 26 states recorded highest one-day temp records (both of those are more then any other decade). There were 59 state records in the 1930s more then any other decade and nearly twice as many as the next decade in line! We start our journey in the spring of 1935, a time when the "black blizzard" was going on in the Great Plains. It was the worst drought in that part of the world since the farming evolution. 60 mph winds kicked up frequent dust storms that reduced visibility so much, that you couldn't see in front of you. The affected area: Colorado to Kansas to Oklahoma. Soil was ripped and houses were gutted with dust. And with these depressing weather conditions happening when the country was facing its worst economic times ever, it didn't help matters any. The drought in the Plains lasted for the rest of the year.
With a dust bowl happening in the Plains, it was Labor Day weekend and a tropical storm lie south of the Bahamas. It became a tropical storm on August 29, 36 hours later, the strongest hurricane in history to strike the U.S. made landfall in the Florida Keys on September 2. The lowest barometric pressure reading in the U.S. still stands there at an incredible 26.35 in of mercury! The horrible part was that the storm intensified so rapidly! Winds were estimated at 200 mph well into Catagory 5 status. People couldn't evacuate in time especially with the storms rather weak intensity just days before landfall. The only route to the mainland was the Florida East Coast Railroad. World War I veterans among others were building a highway down to the Keys at the time and a rescue train was sent down there. 10 of the 11 cars on the train were blown into the water and were gutted by storm surge killing most. Official death toll at 408 although twice as many were missing.
As the winter of 1935-1936 unfolded, it became bitterly cold across the northern section of the U.S. Snowfall records set at Missoula, MT with a monthly total in February 1936 of 43.5 inches that still stands today. Also the west was wet, Eureka, CA saw 26 straight rain days from Christmas 1935 to January 19 with a total of 11.02 inches. All time cold records were set in Great Falls, MT with -49 and Lander, WY with -40 degrees among other places. Fargo, ND stayed below zero for 37 straight days! Minneapolis had a record low of -34 and Bismarck went down to -45 degrees. More records to the other extreme would be seen but later in this year.
Flooding and severe weather made headlines in the spring of 1936. High water records remain in the Middle Atlantic, Ohio Valley, and Northeast following the severe flooding that occured. In that soggy month of March, 107 people died following the floods causing 270 million dollars ($2.5 billion 1990 dollars) in damage. The government responded quickly by passing the Flood Control Act which allocates $310 million for flood control. Also, special flood forecasting offices were authorized as a result of the flooding. From April 5-6, the worst tornado outbreak since 1925 occurred. It was the most tornados in an outbreak since 1896. 17 tornados blew through northern MS, TN, northern AL, northern GA and into SC. 446 people were killed in a series of tornados that began after the sun had set! These were nocturnal storms without the benefit of daytime heating. There were a lot of upper level dynamics involved that kept sirens going off all night. When Tupelo, MS woke up the next morning they found a city in ruins with 216 people dead. The same destruction in Gainesville, GA where 203 people were killed.
It was a hot hot summer! Cities that experienced record cold earlier in the winter got record warmth in the summer. These records stand to this day. Among the highlights, 108 degrees in Minneapolis, MN; 114 degrees in Fargo, ND; 113 degrees in Fort Smith, AR; 115 degrees in Tulsa, OK; 117 degrees in Grand Island, NE. Minneapolis had its hottest summer ever with average temp of 81.4 degrees and its longest string of above 100 degree temps lasting 5 days straight. Dayton, OH had 7 straight above 100 degree days and 10 days for the entire summer.
In the next year, more floods were in store for the Ohio Valley while the Great Plains still couldn't buy a drop of precipitation. It stayed dry into 1941. For MRS Weather, Marcus Smith.
National Weather Report
The Weather Century