On March 23, 1913 the rain started falling across the Mid-west and it didn’t stop for 4 days and 4 nights. The deluge resulted in epic flooding unequaled in American history before and after. Known as the Great Flood. The storm system that produced the flood in late March 1913 began with a typical winter storm pattern, but developed characteristics that promoted heavy rain and at times sleet and snow. Strong winds in the high atmosphere cut off from the jet stream, caused a high-pressure system to stall off Bermuda and blocked the eastward movement of the storm. In the meantime, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico moved northward into the Midwest. The storm that formed in the nation’s mid-section had nowhere to move for several days, causing heavy rain over the four-day period between March 23 and March 26. As the storm gained strength on Sunday, March 23, high winds, hail, sleet, and tornadoes settled in across a vast swath of the nation’s mid-section. Major tornadoes hit Omaha, Nebraska where 94 died; also hit were Lone Peach, Arkansas; and Terre Haute, Indiana. On Monday and Tuesday, March 24 and 25, 3 to 8 inches of rain fell in Ohio, Indiana, and southern Illinois. Major rivers in Indiana and Ohio experienced heavy runoff. Downstream, where the Ohio River enters the Mississippi River, the water level broke record highs. By Tuesday, March 25, the Ohio River and its tributaries flooded cities such as Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Youngstown and Columbus. Dayton, Ohio, was particularly hard-hit. On Wednesday, March 26, the storm moved east into Pennsylvania and New York, while heavy rain continued in the Ohio valley. The heaviest rainfall, 6 to 9, covered an area from southern Illinois into northwestern Pennsylvania. As the storm continued eastward, flooding began in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Virginia. The Potomac River overflowed its banks in Maryland. 467 died in the floods and damage reached $147 million or almost $4 billion in 2021 dollars.
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