On February 13, 1899, one of the coldest airmasses ever observed in the U.S. made it all the way to the Gulf Coast. It was 7F in New Orleans and Pensacola. Mobile dropped to a numbing -1F. The reading of -2F at Tallahassee still is the state’s coldest reading ever. Many all time state record lows were observed during the cold wave.
In Birmingham, observations were taken at the old Fountain Heights weather office. According to J.B,, records were kept in a beat up old journal. The official low on this frigid morning was -10F at the weather office. Handwritten notes on the journal for the date indicated that the temperature in outlying areas around the city was -14F.
If the reading had been taken at the current observation post at the airport, it would have surely been –14F. If readings had been kept in Pinson then, (normally coldest in Birmingham area) it is safe to bet that the reading there would have been –17F!
Other Alabama lows that cold morning: -7F in Tuscaloosa, Elba and Opelika; -5F in Greensboro; -11 in Florence; -12 in Decatur; -15 in Oneonta; -16 in Hamilton and Scottsboro and –18 in Valley Head. Greensboro had five inches of snow on the ground.
A major blizzard was spreading a wide swath of snow from Florida to Maine. Snow flurries were reported in Fort Myers, Florida. The blizzard, dubbed the “Storm King,” dumped nearly 16 inches of snow on New York City on top of an 11 inch snowcover. Twenty inches of snow fell at Washington DC and thirty four inches fell at Cape May, NJ. The pressure in the center of the storm was estimated at 966 Mb (28.53 inches), as strong as a major hurricane.
More cold records that fell during the cold wave included these all time records: -8 DAL, -16 AMA, -23 Tulia for the coldest ever in Texas, -13 at LIT, -22F at KC and -15 at Washington DC.
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