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2013 Part 1: Crippling Winter Storms And Deadly Tornadoes

December 31, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologists


Although the tropical season was quiet, plenty of noteworthy weather hit the U.S. in 2013, including deadly tornado outbreaks, a once a millennium flood, blizzards and a massive ice storm.

The following is a recap of the biggest weather events that unfolded in 2013:

February 9: New England Blizzard:

While the proclaimed Groundhog Phil in Punxsutawney, Pa., predicted an early spring on February 2, 2013, Mother Nature had a few tricks up her sleeve before winter would officially be finished. A major Nor`easter walloped New England, producing snow measured in feet. Hamden, Conn., got slammed with 40 inches with more than 30 inches falling across Long Island and Boston receiving 24.9 inches. A total of 31.9 inches in Portland, Maine, smashed the previous single-storm record of 27.1 inches set in January 1979. Fierce winds with gusts up to 82 mph hitting Westport, Conn., and a 76 mph wind gust at Boston Logan Airport that left tens of thousands without power.

The storm stranded 200 people on eastern Long Island. The New York Knicks flight back home from Minnesota was postponed due to the weather. The Brooklyn Nets were stranded in Washington, D.C., and the San Antonio Spurs had to wait in Detroit before the snow cleared out of New York so the team could travel to New York to compete against Brooklyn.

More than 5,000 flights were cancelled in the Northeast and the storm claimed 10 lives.

February 10: Hattiesburg Tornado

Just after the Northeast got paralyzed by a catastrophic winter storm, the Deep South was walloped by a deadly severe weather outbreak the very next day. A strong cold front triggered an outbreak of severe thunderstorms. An EF-4 tornado with winds of 170 mph ripped through Hattiesburg, Miss., during the afternoon. The tornado stayed on the ground for 21 miles, damaging 100 homes. Twelve people were injured by the tornado. The storm system responsible for the deadly tornado also flooded Jackson, Miss., with up to 3.50 inches of rain.

February 25-27 & March 6-7: Midwest & Mid-Atlantic Winter Blitz

February ended with a monster winter storm for the Midwest. A storm developed in the Southern Plains and edged into the Great Lakes by midweek, producing 1 to 2 feet of snow. Six people died and more than 60,000 homes and businesses lost power in Michigan and Kansas. The storm stranded more than 440 cars, with crashes reported in Wisconsin. One hundred flights to and from Chicago`s airports were cancelled, with 9 inches measured at Chicago`s O`Hare Airport and Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

Meanwhile, March roared in like a lion for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with one last blast of winter weather. Two storms merged in the Mississippi Valley and then moved to the Mid-Atlantic Coast before spiraling into the Atlantic. The Interior Mid-Atlantic took the brunt of this storm, with Franklin, W.Va., measuring two feet of snow and Fisherville, Va., getting 20.3 inches. Howling winds blasted Ocean City, Md., with a 70 mph gust clocked by an Earth Networks Tracking Station. The storm was equally as strong along coastal New England. A 50-mph gust was measured in Nantucket, Mass. While Boston received 13 inches of snow; two feet blanketed the city`s western suburbs. The storm was responsible for 3-hour long airport delays from Philadelphia to Boston Logan International.

May 20 & 31: Deadly Oklahoma Tornadoes:

Spring ended with violent, deadly weather across the Southern Plains. An EF-5, the strongest category on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, ripped through Moore, Okla., on the afternoon of May 20, with estimated wind speeds of more than 200 mph. Damage is estimated to be in the billions, rivaling the costliest tornado in U.S. history, which hit Joplin, Mo., in May 2011. The storm was responsible for 23 deaths, which included seven children at Plaza Towers Elementary School. The tornado also destroyed Briarwood Elementary School. More than 300 homes were damaged along the tornado`s 17- mile track.

May finished with a historical tornado that ravaged El Reno, Okla. This was the widest tornado ever recorded in the world, measuring 2.6 miles across. Just like the Moore tornado, the one that ravaged El Reno on May 31 had estimated winds of 200 mph. Nine people died in the tornado, with seven deaths in automobiles. Three severe storm researchers were killed east of Highway 81 as the tornado moved through where they were positioned.

For a look at the weather stories that made headlines for the second half of 2013, click here.

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Story Images: Courtesy of the National Weather Service and the Associated Press.

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