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The Great Smethport, PA Rain of 1942

By Jesse Ferrell, Meteorologist/Community Director
7/19/2008, 4:56:03 PM

UPDATE: I downloaded the historical weather maps for that fateful Friday (and the following day). Both show a stationary front over the area, which was probably generating training thunderstorms or widespread heavy rain. See the firsthand account from "James" in the Comments section below.



Blog reader Matt writes:

In the 7/17/08 edition of the Syracuse Post Standard (Syracuse, NY), the weather history column states that "Excessive rain hit north-central Pennsylvania in the early morning hours of 7/17/42. Smethport received 30.8 inches in 4.5 hours, a state record." I have a hard time fathoming this. Do you know anything about this event?

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Matt, it sounds unbelievable, but in times like these I turn to Chris Burt [JessePedia], Author of "Extreme Weather" . The latest edition of his book says this about "The Deluge at Smethport, PA" says on Page 116 and 119:

Perhaps the most extraordinary rainfall ever measured in the world... [snip] Over 600 sheets of data were compiled to substantiate this record. [snip] All told, 34.50" fell in an 18-hour period, of which... 30.70" in 4 hours, 30 minutes. No such rain intensity has ever been recorded anywhere else in the world.
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