On These Dates In Local Weather History

February 27th, 2012 at 4:40 pm by under Chad's WLFI Weather Blog

February 29, 1857

The winters of 1811-12, 1819-20, 1856-57, 1976-77 & 1977-78 overall are generally regarded as the coldest winters of the past 200 years.  Each were incredibly snowy with numerous days area-wide below zero.  Great hard ship occurred on settlers to modern-day residents from these winters.  The Wabash froze solid enough to easily navigate across in all of these years.

March 1, 1960

Coldest March temperatures on record for parts of the viewing area occurred.  Only March 1814, 1833, 1868, 1872 & 1943 had temperatures this cold.  The 1960s were known for their cold Marches with very cold weather occurred in 1964 & 1967, as well.

Romney dropped to -14, West Lafayette, Logansport & Peru to -12, while Frankfort had -11, Rensselaer -8.  Delphi had -7, while Crawfordsville bottomed out at -4.

A deep snow pack of 7-14” resided across the area from late February through the first 8 days of March.

March 2, 1833

Early March 1833 was the coldest March weather until 1872.  Andrew Jackson’s inauguration was done inside the hall of the House of Representatives as the Arctic air races east & southeastward.

There are indications that mid-March 1814 had a major cold wave.  In fact, the temperature was 4 degrees at sunrise near Cincinnati, Ohio on one of the March mornings & readings were reportedly below zero at Chicago & Fort Wayne.

March 3, 1983

Winter & early spring was a big tease in 1982-83.  The winter of 1982-83 was a very mild reprieve from the winters of deep snow & bitter cold in the late 1970s & early 1980s.  A false spring also arrived early in 1983.  Today would mark a 5-day stretch of temperatures in the 70s in the viewing area with overnight lows unseasonably mild in the mid to upper 50s.  However, the coldest temperatures of the entire winter would occur March 23 with lows of -5 to 3, killing the fresh, new unfurling leaves & flowers of the trees & shrubs.

March 4, 1880

Severe weather outbreak occurred in the southern half of the viewing area & over a good chunk of Indiana.

A tornado hit Indianapolis at approximately 10:30 p.m. with substantial damage, while “considerable damage” was reported in Lafayette from very strong winds & heavy rainfall from the storm passage around 10 p.m.

A tornado near Alto, in Howard County killed one & injured 9 when the twister destroyed a house shortly after 10 p.m.

Other damage occurred in Warren, Fountain & Clinton counties with numerous downed trees with outbuildings damaged, even destroyed.

On this same night, a major tornado “caused immense damage” (2 fatalities, numerous injuries) in part of Toledo, Ohio at 11:15 p.m., while tornadoes likely hit Spencer, Indiana at 10 p.m. & Liberty, Indiana “in the early morning hours” of the 5th.  A “great loss of property” from damaging winds was reported at Madison, Indiana (just north of Louisville) at 5 a.m.

Widespread wind damage occurred 40 miles southwest of Bloomington, Indiana near Odon.  It was written that wind leveled many old buildings & blew down fences & orchards.

This appears to have been a racing squall line with a bulge in the line in the Warren to Howard County areas with an embedded tornado likely at the top of the line kink, which may have produced damage at Lafayette & then the bigger damage at Alto.  The storms hit at the same time at Spencer & Lafayette & if you drawn a line they line up nearly due north & south, meanwhile the Howard County storm hit shortly after 10 p.m. with Indianapolis getting hit with a tornado at 10:30 p.m.

March 5, 1828

The growing seasons were so long & the winters so mild in the mid & late 1820s that settlers raised cotton in Indiana.  In fact, a cotton gin was built at Springfield, Illinois & Worthington, Indiana.  The cotton industry collapsed in the early 1830s when a series of hard winters & uncommonly late frosts crushed the early investments in the Midwest.  The winter of 1827-28 was exceptionally mild & appeared to rank up with the very mild winter of 1875-76 & 1889-90 in the Midwest & Ohio Valley.  Daffodils were in blossom & American elms budding at Lexington, Kentucky in late January 1828.  Peaches were reportedly blossoming in Arkansas in January 1828.

However, the coldest air of the season in many 1820s winters hit in late February or early March, before a nice, warm spring commenced.

March 6, 1956

A significant outbreak of severe weather occurred in the viewing area with 6 confirmed tornadoes.  Golfball- to baseball-sized hail fell in a swath from near Radnor to south of Bringhurst to northwest of Burlington while an F2 tornado in Carroll County ripped through areas 1-1.5 miles northwest of Delphi.

An F2 tornado near Dunnington, in Benton County, injured 3 people & caused $1/4 million in damage, while another F2 injured 1 person as it tracked 2 miles from northwest of the Route 18/Co. Road 500E intersection to north to north of Galveston Airport to Co Road 700E.

Yet another F2 tornado touched down between Amboy & Converse in Miami, while an F2 did damage to farms northwest of Windfall.  In White County, an F2 tornado did $3,000 in damage by side-swiping farms 1-1.5 miles northwest of Monticello.  In Grant County, a significant F4 tornado killed 1 & injured 31 people as it tore through homes.  A $¼ million in damage was done (1956 dollars).

March 7, 1961

Clean-up continued after 6 confirmed tornadoes roared through Warren, Tippecanoe, Clinton, Howard & Boone counties during the early morning hours of the 6th.  All were F1’s & F2’s, but 2 large F3’s hit Howard County.  1 person was killed & 5 were injured while damage amounted to nearly $600,000 (1961 dollars).

3 Responses to “On These Dates In Local Weather History”

  1. Tom says:

    Thanks for the great info Chad! The March 4, 1880 tornado passed through the northwestern part of Lafayette. The tornado came from the southwest and was probably about 600 yards wide. It was reported that at about 9pm the storm swept through the upper part of West Lafayette, but luckily there were few houses in its path. A barn on the Battle Ground road was lifted from the ground. I could talk about this all day but I have to stop now. Thanks again for the info Chad. Would love to get together with you sometime. All of this info is just too good to keep to myself.

  2. Chad Evans says:

    Hey Tom!

    Yeah, I am a big weather history guy! We need to get together, my friend!

  3. Tom says:

    Hi Chad!

    I think it would be great if we could get together. I was thinking that whenever you have a free day, maybe we could meet at the Tippecanoe County Library in the Indiana room. I could bring most of my info and articles and I think they have places to plug in your laptop. I don’t know if that would be out of your way or if that would work for you? If that’s not a good place for you we can always meet somewhere else. I hope to get together with you soon. Have a great night!


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