Skip to content

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

July 3, 2022

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 1867. The 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 Basins. Flooding 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!!

  1. C Lynch permalink
    July 3, 2022 11:37 am

    Just imagine the demands for instant global Marxism if that happened now.

  2. Graeme No.3 permalink
    July 3, 2022 11:41 am

    I’m sure you seen this but just in case (American humour)

    A Funny thing happened on the way to Global Warming (from 2015).

  3. Stuart Hamish permalink
    July 3, 2022 12:05 pm

    I knew the record United States tornado count year was 1974 although I was not aware the United States wettest year was 1973 ……

    .For the Australian BoM rainfall series the conspicuously wettest year was 1974 – accoompanied by widespread floods [ the volume of Lake Eyre was the highest in centuries ] – and the peak cyclone years notified in the BoM cyclone time series were the 1970’s …The record Australian bushfire season was 1974-75

  4. Broadlands permalink
    July 3, 2022 3:07 pm

    It is also interesting that in the US the coldest year on record is still 1917. It was followed in just four years by the warmest year on record. 1921 remained the warmest year on record until NOAA adjusted the official US Weather Bureau temperatures downward so that 2012 could be the warmest. This was accomplished by lowering monthly almost all of the 48 states for 1921. Winters were made colder.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 3, 2022 5:12 pm

      Funny how in 1921 they got it wrong in so many places and all in the same direction…

      NOAA must be able to describe a systemic fault then? Because its clearly not a random error if the vast majority all went one way.

  5. John Hultquist permalink
    July 3, 2022 6:02 pm

    Paul, I hope it is okay if I provide some information.

    One of the USA’s major news organizations (NBC, I think) produced a video compilation of the coverage of the floods of spring 1973. It sold for about $10.00, which we bought. We lived in Iowa at that time – a state with flooding issues. Along with others of such tapes, it got thrown out last year as we cleaned out and remodeled the house. Years before (maybe 1967) we lived in Cincinnati, OH and the Ohio River flooded lower parts of the metro-area. Because the USA is such a large place, when one region experiences a disaster, there are multiple resources and agencies that can respond – and do. For a country such as Bangladesh, size, situation, and resources are not as readily available.

    Readers here that learn from Paul’s informative posts my like a site called

    The True Size Of {search it up}

    For me, ads get in the way, so drag on the base map so the “How it works” block is fully visible. Play that, then click it off. On the left side “Clear Map” and then type a country name – try Germany. Press “Enter”
    That country will be highlighted; then drag it to, say Texas.
    The scroll wheel allows you to zoom.
    With highlighted Germany now on Texas, drag to Alaska. Note that the image expands to account for the type of map projection.
    Clear map, and type Sweden. Drag Sweden to Central America (Guatemala & Nicaragua).
    Go to the “compass” on the lower left, click, and rotate to align Sweden to better overlay Central America. Try overlaying Sweden on the US West Coast from Portland OR to San Diego CA.

  6. jimlemaistre permalink
    July 3, 2022 7:23 pm

    Officially . . . I will always take the stand that ‘Real Climate Change’ on Planet Earth, throughout The Holocene, was caused by Volcanic eruptions above 6 on the VEI index. We have NOT had one of these monsters since 1883, Krakatoa . . . Therefore we are returning to what I call ‘The Norm of Warm’ . . . as the 20ieth century has clearly shown . . . The following excerpts may, for most of us, make this clear . . .

    Europe, Near East and Middle East

    Contemporary chronicles in Europe mention unusual weather conditions in 1258.[182] Reports from 1258 in France and England indicate a dry fog, giving the impression of a persistent cloud cover to contemporary observers.[183] Medieval chronicles say that in 1258, the summer was cold and rainy, causing floods and bad harvests,[58] with cold from February to June.[184] Frost occurred in the summer 1259 according to Russian chronicles.[99] In Europe and the Middle East, changes in atmospheric colors, storms, cold, and severe weather were reported in 1258–1259,[185] with agricultural problems extending to North Africa.[186] In Europe, excess rain, cold and high cloudiness damaged crops and caused famines followed by epidemics,[187][82] although 1258–1259 did not lead to famines as bad as some other famines such as the Great Famine of 1315–17.[188]

    A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian which spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says.

    All of the preceding was the result of ‘Cataclysmic’ Volcanoes somewhere on Earth . . . We are long overdue . . .

    For a better reading and a full list read Pages 34 – 37 . . .

  7. M E Emberson permalink
    July 5, 2022 10:35 am

    Oh dear! I thought they were of great interest. I had,of course , known of those years of Justinian’s reign in the E Roman Empire becoming colder and in the west too.. The climate extremes were caused by volcanic explosions then and extremes in the 1970’s were similar.
    I hope none of the New Zealand volcanoes will have that effect anytime soon.

    • jimlemaistre permalink
      July 5, 2022 2:40 pm

      Temperature records began in 1724, the year Fahrenheit invented the thermometer. Global accuracy is not considered consistent until about 1800. ‘Since record keeping began’ is one of those phrases that catches many people off guard.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: