From coast to coast, there will probably never be such a cold wave again as the wave the nation endured in mid-February 1899.
Several heavy arctic air masses headed south with an incredibly high barometric pressure (1064 mb) falling from Canada as a series of strong lows (984 mb) formed in the Gulf of Mexico and ejected the east coast.
The coldest temperature recorded was in Fort Logan, Montana, with an astonishing low of -61 ° F.
This cold wave stretched from coast to coast and started in the Pacific Northwest with lows of 9 ° F in Portland, Oregon and 12 ° F in Seattle, Washington.
Even the normally mild southwestern U.S. did not escape the cold with Los Angeles reaching 33 ° F and San Diego reaching 34 ° F.
Phoenix, Arizona had a low of 24 ° and Santa Fe, New Mexico to -5 ° F.
The rural Plains states were hit incredibly hard with much suffering and terrible agricultural losses. Some of the lows:
- Scottsbluff, Nebraska -45 ° F
- Dodge City, Kansas -26 ° F
- Kansas City, Missouri -22 ° F
- Galveston, Texas 8 ° F
- Austin, Texas -5 ° F
Chicago had major damage to underground water pipes. The Mississippi River remained frozen throughout the month as far south as Hannibal, Missouri. In fact, ice five centimeters thick was seen flowing down the Mississippi River, past New Orleans and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Measurable snow fell over the Sunshine State as far south as Lakeland and Tampa. A trail of snow fell in Fort Myers, the southernmost snowfall in Florida until January 1977. Lake City was 3 inches long. The snow that fell on Tampa was probably snow from the “wave effect” produced when the freezing air flowed over the Gulf of Mexico. .
Atlanta, Georgia shivered at -9 ° F
Montgomery, Alabama dropped to -5 ° F
In Florida, records have fallen that still exist. It was -2 in Tallahassee, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Florida.
Tampa and Orlando both dropped to 22, records for February. However, this is not always the coldest temperature in Tampa, which was December 18 to December 13, 1962.
When it ended, the storm produced very heavy snow in the northeastern U.S., Washington DC had nearly 2 feet, and New York City had 1 ½ feet. The country’s capital fell to a record -8 ° F.
Remember, this was 1899, if you didn’t live in a big city, you were pretty much alone in rural America at the time.