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Groundhog Day Historic Storms

UPDATED January 31, 2014

By WeatherBug Meteorologists

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Several notable storms have struck the U.S. on Groundhog Day over the last 100 years.

1976 Nor`easter

On Groundhog Day 1976, a coastal storm rapidly intensified - - or "bombed out" - - as it moved northward into New England. Wind gusts exceeded 110 mph at Bear Island and Southwest Harbor, Maine. Chatham, Mass., reported a gust of 98 mph.

Caribou, Maine, set a new all-time record low pressure of 957 millibars (28.26 inches) and Boston recorded it second lowest pressure ever (965 millibars or 28.48 inches).

Tides 3 feet above normal caused extensive coastal flooding. After reaching the coast, the surge of water funneled up Maine`s Penobscot River, causing a surge of exceeding 10 feet in the city of Bangor, Maine. About 200 vehicles were submerged, and the frigid water trapped many people in their buildings and cars.

With mild air in place, most of the precipitation fell as rain. However, a cold front swung through toward the end of the storm, causing a 40- to 50-degree temperature drops along with blizzard conditions over parts of interior New England for a few hours.

Groundhog Tropical Storm

Groundhog Day 1952 featured the only tropical storm to ever make landfall in the U.S. in the month of February since records began in the late 1880s.

The tropical storm formed in the northwest Caribbean Sea during the evening of February 1. It moved rapidly northeast at a speed in excess of 35 mph, passing near Key West early in the evening of February 2, and passing Miami around midnight.

Miami reported sustained winds near 60 mph with gusts to 68 mph. Two to 4 inches of rain fell across southern Florida. The rain and wind caused significant damage to crops in around Miami.

The Atlantic Basin tropical season runs from June to November. Cooler water temperatures and strong upper level winds make tropical development increasingly unlikely as fall transitions to winter, but tropical storms have occasionally formed in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during the winter.

2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard

A major winter storm roared across the central Plains, Midwest and Northeast from January 31 through February 2. Hardest hit was Chicago, where more than a foot of snow and blizzard conditions driven by winds in excess of 60 mph stranded commuters, some on transit buses, on the famous Lake Shore Drive.

Blizzard conditions were also reported in such widely disperse locations as Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Okla., Kansas City, St. Louis, El Paso, Texas, Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis and Boston.

This same system also produced a devastating ice storm that hit parts of northern and central Texas, Ohio, central and northern Pennsylvania and interior New England. Power outages and demand for power in Texas caused rolling blackouts throughout the Lone Star State. Damage from the ice storm nationwide totaled $1 Billion.

What type of weather can you expect on this year`s Groundhog Day? Check your WeatherBug for the latest forecast for your hometown and in Punxsutawney, Pa. Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter.


Story Image: Groundhog Club Co-handler John Griffiths holds the weather predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, after he was taken from the stump in a previous Groundhog Day. Keith Srakocic, AP

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