Coldest, Wettest & Stormiest – The Good Old Days Before Global Warming


By Paul Homewood

By the 1970’s, the Earth had experienced three decades of declining temperatures, which Hubert Lamb described as “longest-continued downward trend since temperature records began”.

Many will be aware that the coldest winter on record in the US was that of 1978/79, more than 1F colder than any other year.

It is also common knowledge that the 1970’s suffered the most from tornadoes.

What may less well known, though, is that the US also had its wettest year on record during the decade, in 1973.


Very few parts of the country escaped the rain, and the east and central regions suffered particularly hard:


Unsurprisingly, severe flooding resulted.  The most notable was the Mississippi Flood between March and May, rated as the second worst ever after 1927’s.

File:Morgan City Louisiana Aerial 1973 Flood.gif

Morgan City, LA  – May 1973

But the Tennessee Valley also suffered one of its costliest floods in modern history.


Flooding along Huntsville Spring Branch and Memorial Parkway on March 16, 1973.

Later, in October, an intense thunderstorm produced the greatest urban rainfall on record in Oklahoma, with accumulations of 15 to 20” within a 100 sq mile area. Nine people died in the resultant floods in Enid, OK

1973 Enid Flood Bridge Damage

Enid, Oklahoma

And there was a major flood of the South Platte River in Denver, described in 2003 as “the last big flood in Denver”.


But there were many, many more floods that year, as the USGS report:

Summary of Significant Floods, 1970 Through 1989, by Year


Moderate to severe flooding occurred along the central coast of California in January 1973 . Numerous small drainages scattered along about 300 mi of coastline had the largest discharges of record. Large flows were confined to drainages of less than 60 mi² and occurred mostly in drainage areas of less than 10 mi².

Much of the eastern half of the United States had above-average rainfall in March. Severe floods occurred March 7-9 and 15-16, with streamflow remaining high between the two flood periods in several streams in central Wisconsin. Rainfall on March 17-19 caused severe flooding from western Virginia to southwestern Mississippi. Maximum discharges at more than 100 streamflow-gaging stations in Tennessee and northern parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia were greater than the previous maximum of record. The discharge at one gaging station on the Tennessee River in Alabama was the largest since at least 1867The storms that caused this flooding were widespread over much of the area east of the Mississippi River. Strong winds associated with the storms caused severe flooding along the shores of the Great Lakes with damage in Michigan, Ohio, and New York.

In addition to the floods discussed above, the Northeast had floods from April 24 to May 3, June 30 to July 5, and August 2. The April-May floods led to Federal disaster declarations for four counties in extreme northeastern Maine. During the May-June floods, 40 counties spread over New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania were declared eligible for Federal disaster aid. Flooding was especially severe in the Delaware River and Lake Ontario Basins. The August 2 flood was described at the time as the most deadly one in the history of central New Jersey, with six deaths recorded.

Spring floods along the Mississippi River resulted in disaster declarations for every county bordering the Mississippi River from the Wisconsin-Illinois State line to the mouth of the river in Louisiana. Floods that began on the Mississippi River and its tributaries in early March lasted through June and caused the evacuation of 50,000 people and damages of more than $400 million. New records for consecutive days above flood stage were set, and maximum stages and discharges exceeded the estimated 100-year recurrence intervals (Chin and others, 1975).

A significant regional flood in the Western States during 1973 resulted from the melting of excessive snowpack in the Rocky Mountains. The highwater period began in April in Arizona and extended through June in Wyoming. Extreme flooding occurred along the South Platte River in Colorado and Nebraska, both from rain on snow and from a general warm-weather snowmelt. The general snowmelt produced significant flooding in the headwaters of the Rio Grande in central Colorado and New Mexico and in the Green River and Colorado River Basins of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah.

Several floods occurred in April, May, June, September, and November in Southern States from the Carolinas to Mississippi. Primary areas and dates of flooding were March 30-April 8 near the Georgia-Florida State line, May 27-29 in the southern Appalachian area, and June 5-6 near Atlanta, Georgia. Floods occurred near the boundary between North and South Carolina during September 13-14, and in Kentucky and Tennessee during November 25-28.

Multiple floods occurred in an arc through parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri during 1973. Some streams flooded several times during the year. Widespread flooding occurred in the lower parts of the Missouri, White, Arkansas, Yazoo, and Red River BasinsFlooding occurred in basins throughout much of Texas at the time of the March-April floods along the Mississippi River. Discharges in tributaries to the Mississippi River were not historic maximums, but their combined flows caused flooding on the main stem of the Mississippi River. Widespread flooding also occurred in Texas in June and July. The July floods affected the San Antonio, Guadalupe, and Frio River Basins and a small part of the Rio Grande Basin.

Some streams reached the highest stages since the mid-1800’s. Other periods of significant flooding occurred in the Texas-Missouri arc from late September through mid-October and in late November. Flood crests occurred mainly during September 26-29, October 11-13, and November 24-26, but small areas had flooding on other dates, especially September 5-7 and September 12-14. At numerous streamflow-gaging stations, discharges during late September and mid-October floods ranked highest or second highest in many years of record; at others, the November discharge was larger.

Bring back that global cooling!!

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Tom Halla
July 3, 2022 10:12 am

Bur of course that minor little fact does not fit The Narrative, so some adjusted temperature “records” omit ir.

Old Man Winter
July 3, 2022 10:42 am

For central MN, 1972 was the wet year as we didn’t get some low lying corn ground planted. There
was a 10″ rain ~30 mi from us & the most rain I had seen before that was ~3″. It also took an extra
two weeks to combine grain as August was very wet. ’73 was a perfect year for corn as we also had
a late frost. The winter of ’78/’79 had a period of two straight months with Ts < 32°F in the Twin
Cities. It ended the first Saturday in April & our hoops team ate outside at a concrete table mostly
covered with 12+” of snow @ the local McDonalds. It was 35°F outside- veritable heat wave!

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Old Man Winter
July 3, 2022 11:06 am

The 1972 Black Hills flood was another memorable weather event as was the Russian wheat crop

william Johnston
Reply to  Old Man Winter
July 3, 2022 4:52 pm

There was also some talk about cloud seeding activities going on at the time. I believe the activity was absolved but some never quite believed the denials.

4E Douglas
July 3, 2022 10:50 am

During this period of the 1970’s I helped establish two Aviation reporting stations.
Cold and wet, indeed.
BTW the records, seem to be missing.

July 3, 2022 11:03 am

Too hot, too cold, all normal.

jeff corbin
Reply to  n.n
July 5, 2022 10:55 am

Weather can be abnormal based on averages and are still nothing more than weather. The Rapidan River had a 500 year flood and wiped out a new bridge on route 29 in Virginia in 1995. It killed and elderly couple and hundreds of heads of cattle….and permanently changed the landscape, (which had been shaped by similar floods).. Apparently, based on a study of boulder movement down that mountains, those floods were actually more frequent than 500 years. Yet within a scale of the history of written history America. even 100 years is a very long time. This makes 150 year scale floods seem like very abnormal weather, which they are….abnormal being a totally relevant to written history. People are superstitious, they need something to blame in order to master some sort of safety for themselves or some righteous standing, (the god’s, sins of people and communities, Aliens, human civilization destroying itself, Cow farts, c02 etc)

jeff corbin
Reply to  jeff corbin
July 5, 2022 11:07 am

There is no mastering abnormal catastrophic weather. We can spend all our human resources on climate change and still abnormal catastrophic weather will happen. Same goes for super volcanic eruptions, massive asteroid impacts, massive meterotsunami, earthquakes Torrential rains, and massive hail stones… all abnormal but to be expected living life in our cosmos. There are no utterly safe normal moments in our lives. There is always a threat. Time to move on from threat and live our lives or threat will rule us.

July 3, 2022 11:06 am

Ah, big and bad weather events. I miss the days when mitigation was the correct thing to do as prevention rather than being driven by alarmist.
Land use management is perhaps the best tool in the tool box. Preemptive mitigation is far better than reaction based clean up.

Rob Marter
July 3, 2022 11:08 am

I remember that winter of 78/79 was so cold so long I was able to walk across the frozen Delaware River. In the spring the USCG had a job resetting all the navigation markers and buoys that had been removed by the thawing river ice floes. It was memorable indeed. I got more ice skating and pond hockey in than I had ever experienced.

Reply to  Rob Marter
July 3, 2022 11:46 am

In early 1979 I moved into my first little house in uptown New Orleans. The lot was only 30 feet wide, but over the entire back fence draped the beautiful dark green leaves of a huge grapefruit tree which was likely planted for the New Orleans Centennial, a very common fad of that era. The fruit from this monster was plentiful and delicious, with paper thin skin and sweet pink pulp. The winter of 1979 was record-breaking for the city, and so cold that the pipes of my home burst and that 100+ year old tree was killed by the hard freeze. I was heartbroken.

Brett Baker
July 3, 2022 11:18 am

And remember, that probably was a time of benign climate! The number of people who don’t know how many times we’ve had nasty weather in human history is disturbing.

Dennis Kelley
Reply to  Brett Baker
July 3, 2022 5:16 pm

What we learn from history is that most people don’t learn from history.

Reply to  Brett Baker
July 5, 2022 8:57 pm

The late 70s were definitely not benign. Not as crazy as the 1930s, of course, but major events in New England, Buffalo, the midwest….

July 3, 2022 11:27 am

What all you old farts remember about weather events back in the 1970s or earlier just doesn’t count – nothing of note ever happened in the world prior to 1995.

And since then everything has been “UNPRECEDENTED!”

(or, like, totally unique, awesome, amazing, like, you know, like?)

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Mr.
July 3, 2022 12:31 pm

Before long, 2015 will become the new 1995.

BTW, my neighbor was a pilot nicknamed THE Old Fart- Tango, Oscah, Foxtrot!

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Mr.
July 3, 2022 12:45 pm

I like that. Like!

July 3, 2022 11:45 am

Eureka, NWT (now Nunavut), set the North American Record cold month mean in Feb, 1979. (-47.9C)…thankfully I arrived in March…

July 3, 2022 11:57 am

Sorry, this cut and paste was already typed in ALL CAPS:

Consider the global warming since 1800:






Ron Long
July 3, 2022 12:12 pm

This collection of stories shows how complex and chaotic the weather is. Climate is weather writ large, over extended time, so it is also complex and chaotic.

July 3, 2022 12:13 pm

Many will be aware that the coldest winter on record in the US was that of 1978/79, more than 1F colder than any other year.

That would have been about the time a bunch of scientists sent a letter to president wanting to spread coal dust on the Arctic to fend off the Ice Age they predicted was coming.

It is also common knowledge that the 1970’s suffered the most from tornadoes.

April, 1974 saw the worst tornado outbreak in US history.

Reply to  rah
July 3, 2022 12:37 pm

The coldest month from the USCRN — NOAA’s best network since 2005 — was February 2021. Which happened to be the month of the infamous 2021 Texas blackout.

Reply to  Richard Greene
July 3, 2022 1:21 pm

Joe Bastardi saw that polar blast coming down into Texas about 10 days before it happened. The US and European models didn’t see it until 3 days before it occurred.

In January of 1990 I PCSed to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. I had just got my family settled into a rented house off post and was ready to report for my first day of duty at my new assignment.

I was polishing my boots watching TV. It had snowed and the temp was near zero. They said the post was closed. I decided I go in anyway but then watching TV I saw the crazy stuff those drivers down there were doing. The final straw was seeing a guy standing at the rear bumper trying to push his Camaro to get it going with the wheels spinning slowing and nobody behind the steering wheel.

I put my boots down and changed out of my uniform and stayed home.

Reply to  Richard Greene
July 3, 2022 1:23 pm

Oh, and BTW. I don’t remember any concern about keeping the power on or homes heated when that cold blast came through back then.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  rah
July 4, 2022 11:24 am

Yes, we had reliable grid back then even with tech tht today would be considered stoneage.

John Burdick
July 3, 2022 12:22 pm

The 79-80 winter was the coldest I remember for Washington State. I had just moved from sunny California to Spokane WA where is was 20 below zero in December 1979. My car, with a uhaul trailer in tow, slid from the top of a gentle hill to the bottom where the traffic light was red. I thought later my move almost had an abrupt end.

July 3, 2022 12:35 pm

We need a few 100 year flood events in the Rockies, just to fill up the Colorado River storage reservoirs. But not too much global cooling please…I sort of like this smidge of ‘global warming’ we have had the last 40 years. Hopefully getting back to normal. I remember very well like yesterday the winter of 78/79, and where I was. The intense cold started very early December in 1978 in western Canada, and descended south for much of the winter. I recall my grand parents and parents back then mentioning that it was similar to the winters in the early 20th century, when there was also some fairly cold winters, especially in the 30’s drought years when the summers were blistering hot and dry and the winters were very cold and long, with not a lot of snow. At least in the prairies from Canada to lower USA Great Plains.

Matt Kiro
Reply to  Earthling2
July 4, 2022 6:14 am

That is part of the reason the 30s US yearly temperature average are not as high, there were some brutally cold winters combined with those blistering summers. Extremes at both ends.
But going down 2C from 0 to -2 is a much bigger difference in how you survive compared to going from 34F to 36F, because of how water/ice work

Reply to  Matt Kiro
July 4, 2022 12:35 pm

That is part of the reason the 30s US yearly temperature average are not as high, there were some brutally cold winters combined with those blistering summers.” That what dry air does, somehow that fact escapes the logic of our present day educated idiots.

Old Man Winter
July 3, 2022 1:20 pm

I read an article from the early 70s where Dr Lamb thought the earth would be trending cooler over
the next 100/200 yrs (can’t remember which) due to less solar activity. This is different than those
who thought we were entering the next Ice Age. There was only one scientist who thought that
pollution would cause higher temperatures going forward. My SWAG was that he thought GHGs
in the pollution would prevail.

A separate article stated Lamb thought the next Ice Age would be less severe than the last one. I
had just begun to use DuckDuckGo & didn’t realize their searches can change a lot so I didn’t mark
either article as a favorite before I erased my history.

Gary Pearse
July 3, 2022 2:00 pm

I predicted on WUWT, near the end of the 13yr drought of hurricane landfalls, the return of big hurricanes based on the 60-65yr cycle in temperatures and the big multiple hurricane ravage of the early 1950s, pretty much right on for the big Houston one and the chain of others. I argued (in vain) rather than crowing about the H-drought, we should anticipate the return and take the wind out of the sails of the Dark Side when it happens. Predictably, the hurricane drought was completely forgotten about.

We are now heading into another cooling spell, 50yrs after the 1970s record broad areal flooding. Maybe try your hand, Paul, at predicting the next ones. They will be used by the Dark Side to push us further toward Net Zero.

July 3, 2022 2:06 pm

Here in England we also had a very cold winter in 78/79 the coldest in the 20th century after 62/63 and 46/47 l think.
Since the 1970’s our winters have been trending warmer but there has been no such trend in the timing of the first snow. Over the last 45 years while the trend of our winters have been warming this has had very little impact on the timing of the first snow. lt got my interest as to why this should be the case, and the only thing that l can see that would explain it is if the winter warming here in England was due to shifts in the weather patterning.

July 3, 2022 4:25 pm

iIRC 77 was the year it snowed in miami

Old Man Winter
Reply to  garboard
July 3, 2022 4:55 pm

The first I heard of the polar vortex was during winter quarter ’77. It was >32°F in Fairbanks &
freezing in FL. It was ~-25°F in the Twin Cities- quite cold but not record breaking.

Reply to  garboard
July 4, 2022 9:46 am

Plantation FL. back then in Middle school, announcement over the PA, It’s snowing, everybody outside! It mentions the damage to the crops back then, guessing if it happened now that number would push over 1 billion in losses.


“Let it snow…in Miami? That’s what happened on this date exactly 45 years ago.
January 19, 1977 was the first time in recorded history that snow fell in Miami. The flakes began to fall in Broward and Miami-Dade between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., as an arctic cold front made its way down the coast of Florida.
Flurries were reported as far south as Homestead, though for the most part the snowfall melted when it made contact with the ground. That day, the high temperature was a chilly 47 degrees, with temps dipping into the 30s.
The farthest south snow had been previously observed in Florida was along a Fort Myers to Fort Pierce line in February 1899.
The 1977 snow caused more than $300 million in agricultural damage in South Florida.

Reply to  macusn
July 4, 2022 12:39 pm

Cold and yet they warmest will not accept where you can grow citrus in Florida has move south, not north, in Florida in last 100 years.

Bob Hunter
July 3, 2022 8:12 pm

SSSSSHHHH Brandon, Mann, Hansen etc want us to focus on the Lake Mead photos and the obvious cause. (In their narrow minds)

July 3, 2022 8:14 pm

Long remember the blizzard of Jan 25, 1978.
Lowest noncyclonic pressure ever recorded in the states of Indiana and Ohio. The only time the entire state of Indiana was put under a state of emergency. The Ohio river froze solid enough that people could walk across to Louisville, KY. Indiana Bell allowed only emergency phone calls. The National Guard was using front loaders and tanks to pull semis out and M113 APCs to rescue stranded motorists.

Indiana blizzard of 1978 – Search (

Reply to  rah
July 5, 2022 9:04 pm

Please, note that as the Midwest Blizzard of ’78. New England’s Blizzard of ’78 was in February and even more impressive. I was away from the worst impacted area, the seacoast.

July 3, 2022 11:13 pm

I will never forget that winter. It was horrendous and endless.

July 3, 2022 11:28 pm

Yes, yes, yes, but that was weather

Now, it’s climate

David Elstrom
July 4, 2022 5:17 am

Isn’t this also in the period where mastermind scammers were trying to whip up hysteria about global cooling? Nothing has change except the scam has gone through multiple tebrandings.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  David Elstrom
July 5, 2022 10:02 am

Yes, only trouble was they jumped on the bandwagon too close to the end of the cooling ‘trend.’ The warming ‘trend’ they cranked up the propaganda early enough so they could get money behind it, which is why it has persisted.

Pat from Kerbob
July 4, 2022 10:50 am

70’s were really wet in west central saskatchewan, wet summers, huge snowfalls in winter, just going through my parents old picture albums, lots of snow shoveling when i was a kid.
And bloody cold winters.

If we are somehow responsible for that getting warmer then bring on more

Dave O.
July 4, 2022 10:59 am

Don’t remember the exact year but it was in the late 70’s when the winter was so cold that there were days when the mercury in the thermometer didn’t make it out of the bulb.

Mr Ed
July 4, 2022 3:53 pm

I remember the winter of 78/79, I was in W MT. A blizzard hit over the
Thanksgiving weekend and the mercury dropped below zero never got above zero
for over 100 consecutive days. There was a stretch of over two weeks where the
high temps were in the sub 20-30F range. Brutal winters back then.


Coach Springer
July 5, 2022 6:52 am

1978/9 – I delivered propane for home heating in rural Illinois then. My company purchased business from another company doubling our size without doubling our delivery capacity. Several storms closing roads too. Work til midnight and go out at 3 a.m. on an emergency call. Back to work at 6. Good times. Good times.

jeff corbin
July 5, 2022 9:12 am

A mild Hurricane Agnes1972 stalled over the US East coast as a tropical storm and dumped torrential rains from Saturday through Thursday from from Saturday through Thursday in 3rd week of June 1972. I survived the flooding in the Manassas area of Virginia. I spent the week dealing with copperheads and rats and diverting flows of water to prevent cabins at the camp I was working at from sliding down the hill into the Occoquan River.

128 people were killed
700,000 Billion in damage in today’s dollars.

In those days it was sanely reported to be a 500 to 1,000 year flood.. normal in the long range outlook. it was more like at 100 year flood. Crazy heavy rains happen from tropical storms.

Today, it would have been blamed on climate change. The media would insanely and dishonestly leveraged people’s suffering…. using videos and images of people dealing with the demolished homes and business and loss of life as proof that something needs to be done about climate change and implicitly blaming people for consuming. Weather reporting has become a hydrant of propaganda for a political campaigns and socialist revolution.

I don’t consume weather forecasting in any formats. It’s just weather… who cares.

jeff corbin
Reply to  jeff corbin
July 5, 2022 9:22 am

Fortunately, some of the buildings at Camp Tapawingo were on high enough ground to avoid being flooded as some of the camp facilities were build by the CCC on a bluff that over looked Occoquan River with a 40 foot boundary of very old lime stone cliffs. Unfortunately, most of the camp flooded and all the roads into and out of the camp were flooded with 30 feet of water. there was no way in or out. Three miles of away, many people lost their lives in new housing developments built ion low ground.

jeff corbin
Reply to  jeff corbin
July 5, 2022 9:27 am

50 years later I live in PA on a hill 1,100 feet with good drainage in a stone house that has been standing for 210 years. The reason…is weather…Agnes.

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