Temperatures reached their warmest levels since December 23 with 60 at Evansville. Christmas to this time was dominated by deep freezes and snows (& some ice). 40.5″ snow fell in the snow season of 1885-86.
This followed the worst winter storm/blizzard of the winter…………..early January:
Early January 1886 saw storm system develop in northeastern Mexico, then move east-northeastward. However, the upper low tracked farther north & a likely deformation of heavy snowfall occurred over part of the Tri-State with up to 12″ of snow. Strong, howling winds with tumbling temperatures occurred with the snow, which led to blizzard conditions. It was reportedly the worst snowstorm since 1867 in Evansville when a historic storm dumped up to 17″ of snow (5 foot drifts a top buildings in downtown Evansville). Up to 24″ of snow fell on the Tri-State with that storm. However, it lacked the really cold air, as temperatures were around 30 during the storm & 32 after the storm.
With the 1886 storm, 11.5″ fell in Evansville, but drifts were reportedly consistently 2 feet with some drifts much deeper. 3 foot drifts were reported in downtown Cairo, Illinois. Most railroads in the area were completely buried by deep snow drifts by the blowing snow of the gale-force winds.
Temperatures in the Tri-State were not as cold as the all-time historic lows of January 1884, but still around -16. The cold outbreak in the Deep South & into Florida was the worst since 1856/1857. It beat the 1884 cold wave in many areas, while measurable snow fell as far south as Corpus Christi, Texas. Galveston saw 2″ of snow. Trace amounts of snow fell across northern Florida.
Winds reportedly led to white-out conditions & with the Arctic air, there were many reports of frost bite as the storm system blew up into a major Nor’Easter on the East Coast. Winds gusted to 64 mph at Boston, 62 mph in North Carolina & many ships were heavily damaged or submerged along the Mid-Atlantic & New England coastlines with 40 vessels going ashore alone in Boston Harbor. The extreme storm, with a pressure down to 972 mb, led to many deaths in the Northeast & the accompanying historic Arctic outbreak killed 5 by exposure alone near Fort Elliot, Texas (east of modern-day Amarillo).
The very strong winds in a massive area behind the storm picked up the deep snows on the ground in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa & Nebraska & created ground blizzard conditions with white-outs. 20 people perished in the ground blizzard in Iowa.