Pat Shingleton: "February Items of Interest?"
On February 4, 1999, Fairbanks, Alaska was 42 degrees below zero making it the latest date in the season that the high stayed at -40 or lower. That same year on February 3rd, 120 mile-per-hour winds roared across the front range of Colorado causing $3 million in damage. Power lines were sheared for more than a mile from Lafayette, CO. Another February 3rd event found an ice storm in Buffalo, NY in 1883 that sealed a weather instrument shelter that was chopped open. Finally, the only tropical storm to hit the United States happened on February 2, 1952. It crossed south Florida with 60 m.p.h winds and 2 to 4 inches of rain. Possibly of additional interest, the Florentine Codex is an account of the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the mid-sixteenth century. It was an almanac and journal of virtually every aspect of the campaign including weather events. The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society discovered that the Codex identified the earliest documented tornado in the Americas in August, 1521. In Book XII, prior to the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, a heavy storm was accompanied by a whirlwind that struck the Basin of Mexico. The whirlwind hovered above Tlatelolco, Tenochtitlan’s twin city, before moving to a nearby lake and disappearing. Researchers have compared this account with contemporary European descriptions of tornadoes and waterspouts, verifying the tornado. It also predates the Cambridge, MA tornado of 1680, representing the earliest documented twister in the Americas.