1936 North American cold wave

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The 1936 North American cold wave ranks among the most intense cold waves in the recorded history of North America. The Midwestern United States and the Canadian Prairies were hit the hardest. Only the Southwestern United States and California largely escaped its effects.

February 1936 was the coldest February on record in the contiguous U.S., narrowly eclipsing February 1899.[1] It also was the coldest month ever in Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

The meteorological winter (December through February) of 1935/36 was the coldest on record for Iowa,[2] Minnesota,[3] North Dakota,[4] and South Dakota.[5] This winter was much colder than the immediately preceding winters. 1930 through 1934 had very mild winters in the U.S. 1930/31 was warm in the western north central states; 1931/32 in the mid- and south-Atlantic states, the eastern north central states, and the eastern south central states; 1932/33 in New England; and, 1933/34 in the mountain and Pacific states.[6] In the northern plains, the Februaries of 1925, 1926, 1927, 1930, 1931, and 1935 are among the 25 warmest Februaries between 1895 and 2017, although 1929 had the third-coldest February of all-time.[7]

Despite a mild March over most areas east of the Rocky Mountains, the six months from October 1935 to March 1936 were the fifth-coldest on record over the contiguous U.S.[8]

November–December 1935[edit]

Winter 1935 (December 1935 – February 1936) Precipitation, in inches. Record wettest and driest is based on a 112 yr period of records, 1895–2006.

The 1935/36 cold wave began in the plains states in November, when temperatures were well below normal in many areas west of the Mississippi River. November 1935 was one of the coldest Novembers on record for Idaho (fourth coldest),[9] Oregon (sixth coldest),[10] Washington (seventh coldest),[11] and North Dakota (seventh-coldest).[12]

During December, cold weather spread to the eastern half of the U.S., where most places were much below average. Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina had their second-coldest Decembers of all-time, with Florida averaging 50.8 °F (10.4 °C),[13] Georgia 39.3 °F (4.1 °C),[14] and South Carolina 37.5 °F (3.1 °C).[15] Because of persistent chinook winds,[citation needed] however, Montana[16] and British Columbia[citation needed] were significantly above average.

January 1936[edit]

The month began with a mild spell in the eastern states, but a large storm covered the eastern half of the country by the nineteenth.[citation needed] The storm produced heavy snow and blocked most roads in the Appalachian Mountains.[17] Snow was a contributing factor to several highway accidents that killed up to 100 people.[17]

The cold continued during the following weeks. The sea froze partially as far south as Chesapeake Bay.[citation needed] From January 25 to 28, the east had its coldest January temperatures in eighteen years, with Washington, D. C. averaging 14 °F (−10.0 °C)[18] High winds in some locations caused wind chills below −85 °F (−65.0 °C). In Ohio and the Centralia district of Illinois,[19] the cold destroyed the peach crop, whilst defective heaters caused numerous dangerous fires in Minnesota.[18]

North Dakota had its fifth-coldest January of all-time with an average temperature of −6.9 °F (−21.6 °C).[20]

February 1936[edit]

February 1936 US Temperature, in degrees Fahrenheit. Record warmest and coldest is based on a 112 yr period of records, 1895–2006.

February was the coldest month in this severe winter.

Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota had their coldest month on record. Two states recorded their coldest temperatures on record. McIntosh, South Dakota sank to −58 °F (−50.0 °C), and Parshall, North Dakota hit −60 °F (−51.1 °C).[21][22] An unofficial reading of −60 °F (−51.1 °C) also was recorded in Jordan, Montana.[citation needed] At Devil's Lake, North Dakota, the average temperature for five weeks ending in February was −21 °F (−29.4 °C).[23]

Skis had to be used in rescue operations as a succession of snowstorms hit the Pacific Northwest states and much of the nation east of the continental divide.[24] By the middle of the month, all schools in the midwest, Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest were closed by deep snowdrifts. Health care was affected by a shortage of serum. Many remote South Dakota towns did not have outside contact for several weeks,[25] At the peak of the cold wave, only two days of supplies were in inventory at many stores in the plains states.[26] As far south as Richmond, Virginia, rivers were completely ice-bound.[19] Subsequent thaws accompanied by heavy rain over the southern states led to flooding.[24]

In Canada away from the Atlantic Ocean, temperatures averaged as much as 36 °F (20 °C) below normal.[citation needed] At the Saskatoon airport, the temperature did not rise above 0 °F (−17.8 °C) from February 2 through February 20.[27] A temperature of −63 °F (−52.8 °C) was reached in Sceptre, Saskatchewan.[26]

March 1936[edit]

In the final week of February, a thaw finally came to the nation. Temperatures rose above freezing for the first time in many weeks. Fargo, North Dakota reached 32 °F (0.0 °C) on March 1 for the first time since December 14, 1935. The warming led, however, to avalanches in the Pacific Northwest, where three people were killed on Snoqualmie Pass on February 24.[28]

Above average to near average temperatures were recorded throughout the U.S. in March, except for the Pacific Northwest. The heavy winter snowfalls and freezing of the ground, along with the wettest March on record in the northeastern states[29] led to record floods in most of the region’s rivers, especially on smaller tributary streams.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Contiguous U.S., Average Temperature, February". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  2. ^ "Iowa Average Temperature Rankings, February 1936". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Minnesota Average Temperature Rankings, February 1936". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  4. ^ "North Dakota Average Temperature Rankings, February 1936". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  5. ^ "South Dakota Average Temperature Rankings, February 1936". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  6. ^ Henry F. Diaz; Robert G. Quayle (October 1978). "The 1976-77 Winter in the Contiguous United States in Comparison with Past Records". Monthly Weather Review. 106 (10): 1402–6. Retrieved January 26, 2018. 
  7. ^ "February, Average temperature, Central NWS Region". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 26, 2018. 
  8. ^ "October-March, Average Temperature, Contiguous U.S., All 48 States". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 26, 2018. 
  9. ^ "Climatological Rankings, November 1935, Average Temperature, Idaho". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  10. ^ "Climatological Rankings, November 1935, Average Temperature, Oregon". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  11. ^ "Climatological Rankings, November 1935, Average Temperature, Washington". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  12. ^ "Climatological Rankings, November 1935, Average Temperature, North Dakota". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  13. ^ "Climatological Rankings, December 1935, Average Temperature, Florida". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  14. ^ "Climatological Rankings, December 1935, Average Temperature, Georgia". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  15. ^ "Climatological Rankings, December 1935, Average Temperature, South Carolina". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  16. ^ "Climatological Rankings, December 1935, Average Temperature, Montana". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  17. ^ a b John P. Gallagher (January 19, 1936). "Frigid Grip of Winter Holds Most of Nation". Los Angeles Times. pp. 1, 5. 
  18. ^ a b "14˚ Average for 4 Days is Unequalled since 1917-18 Winter: 15 Deaths Brings U.S. Total to 250 – Devils' Lake with -27˚ Has Coldest Temperature". The Washington Post. January 28, 1936. p. 1. 
  19. ^ a b "Potomac Ice-Bound for First Time in 18 Years; Warmer Forecast". The Washington Post. February 1, 1936. p. 1. 
  20. ^ "Climatological Rankings, January 1936, Average Temperature, North Dakota". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  21. ^ "State Climate Extremes Committee: Records, Minimum Temperature, All States". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved January 26, 2018. 
  22. ^ "1936: Coldest winter ever". Minot Daily News. Minot, North Dakota. February 15, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  23. ^ J. B. Kincer, chief, Division of Climate and Crop Weather, U.S. Weather Bureau (February 21, 1936). "Weather Cycle Changing? Present Hard Winter May Be a Foretaste of a Series of Colder and Wetter Years". The New York Times. p. E10. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  24. ^ a b "Weather Fair as Cold Eases Grip on Capital". The Washington Post. February 6, 1936. pp. 1, 3. 
  25. ^ "Expeditions Rush Aid to Snowbound: Many Midwest Towns Cut Off – Meningitis Adds to Danger; Planes to Fly Supplies to Stricken Sections". Los Angeles Times. February 14, 1936. pp. 1, 3. 
  26. ^ a b "Record Cold Continues in West: 63 Below at Sceptre, Sask". The Montreal Gazette. February 17, 1936. p. 1. 
  27. ^ "Daily Data Report for February 1936: Saskatoon Diefenbaker Int'l A Saskatchewan". Government of Canada. Retrieved January 27, 2018. 
  28. ^ ‘At Least 3 Perish in Avalanche: Workers, Menaced by ‘Slides, Continue to Dig through Snow – Cars Uncovered: All Vehicles Unoccupied: snow-slip Occurs at Snoqualmie Pass’; Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; February 24, 1936, p. 2
  29. ^ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northeast Precipitation, March
  30. ^ Talman, C. F.; ‘Hard Winter Brings New Burst of Floods: Rush of Water Over Frozen Ground Causes in the East a Costly Disaster Yet Unlike Overflows of Spring’; The New York Times, March 15, 1936, p. E12

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