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Blog

Weather forecasting, detailed weather analysis and climate information

Filtering by Category: Historic Events

10:20 AM | *The deadly heat wave of July 1936 and perhaps the worst ever in the US*

Paul Dorian

One of the most widespread and destructive heat waves ever recorded in the US took place in the summer of 1936 which fell right in the middle of the hottest and driest decade ever for the nation. The decade of the 1930’s is renowned for the “Great Depression” and the “Dust Bowl”, both of which caused calamitous human suffering in this country.  Not only were huge numbers of crops destroyed by the heat and lack of moisture in the “Dust Bowl” era, but thousands of lives were lost as a result of the heat, drought and economic hardship. Many of the all-time high temperature records that were set in the decade of the 1930’s still stand today.  The heat wave experienced in 1936 began in late June, reached a peak in July, and didn’t really come to an end until September.  This extreme heat wave was particularly deadly; especially, in high population areas where air conditioning was still in the early stages of development.

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8:00 AM | *Hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth took place on July 10th, 1913 in Death Valley, California – a year with many amazing weather events*

Paul Dorian

The high temperature forecast in Death Valley, California for the next couple of days is an impressive 115°F or so, but this is rather pedestrian compared to the all-time record high that occurred on this date one hundred and five years ago.  On July 10th, 1913, the weather observer at Greenland Ranch in Death Valley recorded a high temperature of 134°F. One hundred and five years later, this is still the highest air temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. In addition to this all-time and worldwide high temperature record, the year of 1913 produced numerous other extreme weather events.

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11:00 AM | *A race against time in Alaska to recover the wreckage and human remains from a 1952 military plane crash as an advancing glacier pushes towards a nearby lake*

Paul Dorian

For 60 years, the Colony Glacier of Alaska hid the remains of 52 serviceman in a frozen grave after an Air Force plane crashed into the side of a mountain during bad weather.  The military transport plane was en route to Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage when it crashed into Mount Gannett on November 22nd, 1952 in the Chugach Mountain Range about 40 miles east of Anchorage.  The wreckage of the plane and the remains of the 52 servicemen slid into the glacier next to the mountain. Recovery efforts never got into high gear that year as Alaska’s unforgiving winter came on quickly and by later the following year, the glacier and new deep snow pack had claimed the aircraft and its passengers.  

It was not until 60 years later in June 2012 that the wreckage was spotted about 12 miles from the original crash site by members of the Army National Guard during a routine training mission. Since then crews have returned every summer to try to recover the remains and personal effects during a small window of opportunity of about one month when it is relatively safe to do so on the glacier. This painstaking effort is in a race against time, however, as the relentlessly north-flowing Colony Glacier continues to advance relatively quickly and it won’t be long before the plane wreckage and passenger remains are pushed into nearby Inner Lake George - and perhaps lost forever to history.

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7:00 AM | *Deadly Hurricane Audrey slammed into southwest Louisiana 61 years ago as the strongest June hurricane to ever make landfall in the US*

Paul Dorian

Nowadays, when the people of New Orleans think of devastating hurricanes they think of Katrina, but before 2005, the most notorious storm name in Louisiana was Audrey. Sixty-one years ago today, Hurricane Audrey slammed into the southwest coast of Louisiana and became the earliest major hurricane (category 3) to make landfall in the US.  Hurricane Audrey killed hundreds of people – estimated to be somewhere between 400 and 500 - including many of whom to this day remain unidentified and tragically, about one-third of those were children. The high number of deaths in an era without satellite imagery were attributed to the storm moving ashore earlier and stronger than predicted while most people were sleeping. 

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7:00 AM | *One of the worst natural disasters Pennsylvania has ever faced – 46 years ago*

Paul Dorian

The official Atlantic Basin tropical season was barely underway in June of 1972 when a polar front interacted with an upper-level trough of low pressure over the Yucatan Peninsula.  Within a few days, a tropical depression formed and the system moved slowly eastward and emerged in the western Caribbean Sea by the middle of the month.  The depression began to intensify over the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and soon became Tropical Storm Agnes – the first named storm of the 1972 tropical season.  Ultimately, Agnes would reach hurricane status, grow to a diameter of about 1000 miles, and become the costliest hurricane at the time to hit the US and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was the prime focus of its wrath.

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7:00 AM | *The most important weather forecast of all-time: D-Day, June 6, 1944*

Paul Dorian

This Wednesday, June 6th, marks the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France during World War II and the weather forecast for that historic event makes for quite an interesting story in what turned out to be a pivotal moment in world history.  Years of detailed planning went into the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, but success hinged on one element that no military commander could control — the weather.  Defying his colleagues, Captain James Martin Stagg advised General Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower to postpone the invasion of Normandy by one day from June 5th to June 6th because of uncertain weather conditions in a weather forecast that was arguably the most important of all-time.

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7:00 AM | *Weather’s impact on the sinking of the Titanic*

Paul Dorian

This weekend marked the 106th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic (April 15, 1912) and I thought I’d revisit the overall weather pattern that played a key role in the tragedy. By studying weather maps and written records from that time period, some definitive conclusions can be drawn about the weather during the trip across the Atlantic, and there are also some interesting relatively new theories involving atmospheric conditions.

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1:20 PM | *The Great Blizzard of March 18-21, 1958…one of the worst snowstorms ever in Pennsylvania…some similarities with next week’s expected pattern*

Paul Dorian

March is known to feature some crazy and surprising weather and the 1958 blizzard that occurred in the Mid-Atlantic region between March 18th and 23rd was indeed rather unexpected. In general, forecasts on the morning of March 18th had no mention of snow. This was in an era when computer forecast models were just in their infancy and it was even before satellite imagery existed which could aid in the forecast. By afternoon on that particular day, the light rain had changed into huge, wet snowflakes and - for the next few days - history was being made.

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10:50 AM | *The “Storm of the Century” March 12-14, 1993*

Paul Dorian

The winter of 1992-1993 was not bad at all in the Mid-Atlantic region in terms of cold and snow, but one storm at the end of the season will put that particular winter in the history books forever. One of the most intense storms ever observed in the eastern US took place from March 12-14, 1993 and it will be forever known as the “Storm of the Century”. This intense storm generated tremendous snowfall totals from Alabama through Maine, high winds all along the east coast, extreme coastal flooding along the Florida west coast and incredibly low barometric pressures across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The aftermath of the “Storm of the Century” was unseasonably cold and broke records in many spots for the middle of March. To this day, the storm also known as the “Superstorm of 1993” ranks among the deadliest and most costly weather events in US history.

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7:00 AM | *Weather and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28th, 1986*

Paul Dorian

This Sunday marks the 32nd anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster which occurred on January 28, 1986, when the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. STS-51-L was the 25th American Space Shuttle Program flight since the program began in 1981. It was also the first mission to have a civilian on board, American teacher Christa McAuliffe. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:39 EST (16:39 UTC). According to the Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, weather conditions were likely one of the factors that contributed to the incident. Tests conducted during the subsequent investigation showed that O-rings were much less resilient at lower temperatures, but the extreme cold at the Kennedy Space Center was not the only weather factor involved with this tragedy.

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