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Near Record Drop in Temperature in Plains November 29-30

By: Christopher C. Burt, 9:13 PM GMT on December 01, 2014

Near Record Drop in Temperature in Plains November 29-30

A cold front passed through Montana and Wyoming on Saturday November 29th and then pushed south and east over the Great Plains dropping temperatures as much as 70° in a matter of hours.

Temperature change over the 24-hour period from 3 p.m. November 29th to 3 p.m. November 30th. In fact, even greater falls of temperature occurred at various sites over different periods of time. Map graphic courtesy of The Weather Channel.

Nebraska saw the most pronounced temperature drops with York falling from an all-time late-season record high of 81°F at 1:35 p.m. on November 29th to 10° by 7:30 a.m. November 30th. An amazing 71° drop in just 18 hours! Other sites in the state saw similar drops: Norfolk from 77° (also a late-season record high) at 3 p.m. to 8° by 8 a.m. (a 69° fall in 17 hours), Hastings 80° (late-season record high) to 11° from 1 p.m. to 8 a.m., Grand Island from 78° to 10°, and Valentine 71° to 3° (1 p.m. to 6 a.m.).

Douglas, Wyoming fell 36° in one hour between 7 p.m.-8 p.m. on November 29th, from 52° to 16°. The temperature was 60° at 2 p.m. and 11° by 10 p.m. In Livingston, Montana the temperature fell 26° in six minutes: 47° at 7:53 a.m. to 21° by 7:59 a.m.! By noon it was down to 6°. Bozeman, Montana dropped from 49° at 8 a.m. (November 29th) to -22° at 5:42 a.m. (November 30th), a 71° drop within 24 hours, similar to York in Nebraska.

Historical Perspective

Amazing as these figures are they do not represent all-time record temperature changes for the U.S. The famous cold front of November 11, 1911 was the most extreme such on record. On that day an intense cold front swept quickly across the Great Plains and Midwest where Kansas City, Missouri fell from 76° to 11° in 12 hours. Oklahoma City fell from 83° to 17° and Springfield, Missouri from 80° to 13°. In all three cases the cities recorded both their daily record high and daily record low temperature for November 11th.

The thermograph trace from Springfield, Missouri actually shows that the high temp was at least 81° on November 11th at around 3:45 pm. It also shows that by midnight that same day the temperature had fallen to 10°. The ‘official’ range of temperature for the day of 80° to 13° is not correct if the thermograph is accurate. The office only reported hourly temps for their daily summary and concluded that the 11 p.m. temp of 13° was the lowest for the day when, in fact, it had reached 10° by midnight. The 81° high also occurred between hourly reports. A drop of 40° occurred in 15 minutes between 3:45 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. was observed and the 71° drop in eight hours is almost unprecedented in meteorological records, although two locations in Arkansas (Rogers and Fayetteville) measured a 72° drop in temperature during the same period from 81° to 9°. Graphic from NWS-Springfield office.

Chicago dropped from 74° at 1pm to 13° by midnight on the 11th, and the Monthly Weather Review stated "one man was overcome by heat and two others frozen to death in the short space of 24 hours" (sounds like a little journalistic license here!).

The following is a table of the various state high temperatures observed on November 11, 1911 and state low temperatures observed on November 12th and 13th:

But THE greatest temperature drop for any single location in the U.S. (and the world) was that which occurred at Browning, Montana on January 23-24, 1916 where the thermometer plunged 100° in 24 hours: from 44° around midday on the 23rd to -56° by the morning of the 24th. Fairfield, Montana once saw its temperature fall 84° in just 12 hours on December 24, 1924, from 63° at noon to -21° by midnight.

Conversely, Montana also holds the world record for the fastest rise in temperature for a 24-hour period when a Chinook rose the temperature from -54° at 9 a.m. on January 14, 1972 to +49° by 8 a.m. on January 15th. A 103° rise, and the greatest change in temperature ever officially measured on earth within a 24-hour period. The NWS investigation of this event can be read here.

NWS COOP observer Jim Wood and his instrument shelter at Loma, Montana where the famous (and officially investigated) world-record 103°F change in temperature occurred on January 14-15, 1972. Photo courtesy of NWS-Great Falls.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Temperature

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Looks like most of that big drop at Springfield, MO happened in quite a bit less than 15 minutes.
I remember one hit Dec 1990 in TX, dropped from 82F to 22F in Houston in 16 hours.
Yes, it looks like the temp drop occurred almost instantaneously.

Quoting 1. rlk:

Looks like most of that big drop at Springfield, MO happened in quite a bit less than 15 minutes.
Devastating floods sweep across southern France

(6 months of rain in 24 hours.)

Southern France has been hit by weeks of storms and flooding.


Eleven people have been killed by floods triggered by torrential rain in Morocco, just a week after a heavy storm left 36 dead.

The torrential rain caused many rivers to burst their banks which led to widespread damage, especially in Morocco’s Guelmim region, said a televised report on Monday.

The resort town of Agadir also experienced the equivalent of one year’s rainfall, over 250 mm, between Friday and Sunday.

One remarkable aspect of the 11/11/1911 cold front was how early it was. The air behind it was intensely cold, the kind that usually takes until December to form, at least nowadays.

I also remember the Dec 1990 arctic outbreak as it passed from ND to south TX creating very impressive
temperature drops as it displaced the unusually warm and humid air ahead of it.

As often happens with shallow cold air that has to get over the appalachians, this turned out to be a milquetoast event for the DC metro area, seasonably cold but not
at all remarkable.
Couple weeks back, noticed the 1911 event has a Wiki page reference - Great Blue Norther of Nov 11 1911. Accompanied with quite an outbreak of tornadoes along the front.

I wrote several entries in my journal during the Dec 1990 event too on sharp temp contrasts, record highs/lows, esp Dec 21-22 concerning TX-LA / Gulf region. And freezing temps every state in CONUS Christmas Day. (Edit / add - of course, same period year before had all-time 20th century record coldest for many of us here with the '89 arctic outbreak).

Meanwhile, Chris - enjoy that widespread (long-awaited overdue) rainfall across Cal today!
Hi Chris, the 84F drop in Fairfield, MT actually happened on December 14, 1924. I noticed you said December 24. Just wanted to bring that to your attention!
Perpignan, France, was inundated with 223.9 mm (8.81 inches) of rain from last Friday through Monday morning. Out of that rain total, 124.6 mm (4.91 inches) fell alone in the 24 hours ending Sunday morning.

In Brunswick GA we had a drop of 23C or 41.4F on November 17 & November 18th. Very respectable for my location!
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