1889-90 was second only to the 1875-76 winter for warmest on record for our area. December 1889 was the warmest on record in the Lafayette/West Lafayette data set with the mean temperature an incredible 15 degrees above normal! The daily high mean was an amazing 17.5 degrees above normal!
January was similar, as was February, before the coldest air of the “winter” arrived in March (along with the heaviest snowfall of the season, but even that cold spell was rather short-lived & March still ended up substantially above normal.
A tornado struck Wayne County, Indiana with a track a half-mile wide & at least 4 miles long west of Cambridge City on December 11, 1889. Damage was conducive to EF2 strength, it appears.
A severe weather outbreak occurred on New Years Day 1876 & several tornadoes hit areas south of modern-day Interstate 70 in January 1890. Brazil, Terre Haute & many portions of southern Indiana reported significant damage.
In the other warm winter, a violent, potentially EF4 tornado, demolished part of Princeton, Indiana in February 1876 & another tornado struck southwest of this location in March 1890.
Louisville, Kentucky was struck by a very destructive tornado in March 1890.
Here, at least some severe t’storms occurred in the viewing area each month in the 1889-90 winter.
On the other side, the Pacific Northwest had its coldest winter on record with deep snows to the Oregon & Washington coasts.
Below is data from West Lafayette Purdue Experimental Farm, December 1889.
Temperature deviations & surface low tracks for December 1889 (courtesy of NOAA):
Check out this article on the opposite end of the spectrum the country in the 1889-90 winter:
Nevada City, California after a series of record-breaking snowstorms in 1889-90 winter:
(Courtesy of http://yubanet.com/index.php)