The Great Blue "Norther" - November 11, 1911

     Friday, November 11, 2011 will mark the 100-year anniversary of one of the more remarkable cold fronts and weather phenomena to affect the central United States in recorded weather history. The morning began as unusually warm and breezy, with temperatures soaring to record highs as early as the late morning hours. With weather forecasting in its infancy and exchange of weather information quite limited, local residents went about their daily business assuming that readings in the 70s and 80s would continue throughout the day, including hunters venturing miles from home only dressed in light clothing. 

     However, a fast moving, intense cold front blasted through northern Missouri by early afternoon, and continued its southward plunge throughout the day. In Kansas City, a high temperature of 76 degrees fell into the 40s within one hour; and within three hours by late afternoon; the temperature was in the 20s with light snow and sleet. By midnight, the mercury plummeted to 11 degrees, marking a 65 degree fall in less than 12 hours. Temperature ranges were even more extreme across other parts of the region, with record highs of 80 and 82 degrees in Springfield, MO and Columbia, MO respectively, only to fall over 40 degrees in one hour with the passage of the cold front. Several reports of 50 degree temperature falls in one hour were common in Kansas and Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the rapid and intense onset of frigid temperatures led to the deaths of several hunters unprepared for the changing conditions. A trace of barometric pressure and temperatures can be seen below from the Springfield, MO observation station.

 Springfield barograph

     Impacts from this amazing cold front included a reported 9 tornadoes in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, widespread dust storms in Oklahoma, extensive thunderstorms with straight line wind damage; all followed by near blizzard conditions behind the front. A reported F4 tornado struck the town of Janesville, Wisconsin killing 9 people, only to have blizzard conditions and near zero degree temperatures to follow hours later. Many other locations reported wind damage from thunderstorms and the frontal passage, with several inches of sleet and snow quickly following. Below are hand analyzed weather maps from both November 11th and 12th showing the incredible change in airmass.

Nov 11 1911

Nov 12 1911 

    One other oddity from this abnormal cold front is the fact that several cities set both a record high and record low on the same day! While not unheard of across other parts of the United States, this event of November 11, 1911 is the only occurrence of such a dual record day in the central United States. Below is a table of highs and lows from that day:

City

High

Low

Kansas City

76

11

St Louis

78

18*

Columbia

82*

13*

Springfield

80*

13*

Chanute

81

14*

Oklahoma City

83*

17*


* Indicates a record for the date 

Included below are some regional cooperative observations collected by the National Weather Service St Louis

Station County

High (°F)

Low (°F)

Drop (°F)

Snowfall

Observer Remarks

Illinois…            
Carlinville Macoupin

78

13

65

0.5"

high winds
Edwardsville Madison      

2.0"

 
Greenville Bond

75

14

61

1.5"

 
Griggsville Pike

78

12

66

   
Hillsboro Montgomery

74

13

61

2.0"

high winds, rain, sleet, snow
Quincy Adams

78

12

66

 

 
Waterloo Monroe      

0.4"

 
Missouri…            
Fulton Callaway

80

11

69

 

high wind, sleet
Hermann Gasconade      

Trace

 
Jefferson City Cole

80

9

71

0.3"

 
Louisiana Pike

81

12

69

0.2"

sudden change, snow, sleet
Mexico Audrain

81

10

71

0.5"

sleet, snow
St. Charles St. Charles

78

12

66

0.5"

high wind at 5:30 pm, sleet, snow
St. Louis University St. Louis City

77

13

64

0.2"

thunderstorm, hail, sleet, snow
Steffenville Lewis

81

10

71

0.5"

 
Steelville Crawford

80

10

70

 

 
Vandalia Audrain

81

10

71

   
Warrenton Warren

76

10

66

0.5"

windy, sleet, snow

 For more information on this outstanding meteorological event, please visit any one of the following websites:

National Weather Service St Louis

National Weather Service Springfield

Missouri Climate Center

University of Missouri CAFNR

The Front Page (American Meteorological Society)

 


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