Today in Weather History: the 30th anniversary of the coldest low (and day) in Barnwell County’s history – in Williston

by jovan1984

Yesterday and today are important weather anniversaries – and yes, both of 30-year anniversaries.

It may have been a spring-like 60°f for a max temp on Tuesday (and the same forecast again today), but 30 years ago today, that was not the case.

On January 21, 1985, the day started off as the second coldest day in the county’s history day temperature-wise – it was –2°f. A Banana Front so powerful shredded its way through the nation, and the historic cold was just about to be in store for the town of Williston, or Barnwell County for that matter.

The skies cleared throughout the night the previous night.  That allowed the temperatures to fall like a rock.

At 1am, the mercury in Williston fell to –3°f, tying the record set in Blackville on Valentine’s Day 1899. This would prove to be the last minutes that the Valentine’s Day 1899 record would stand as the county’s coldest ever.

At around 1:30 am, the mercury dipped to a mind-boggling (at the time) –4°f, breaking the mark set at the Clemson Extension station in Blackville in 1899.

Then, just before sun up, a new county record was set again: this time, –5°f.

Then it started to ‘heat up’ once the sun went up.

It did not get above zero until 11am, when the temperature hit 1°f.

It was still 5°f at noon.

It got above ten at 2pm, when the temperature hit 12°f.

It got up to 18°f the next hour, and then 19°f at each reporting hour after that for the rest of the day.

However, the max temperature in Williston was 20°f – but that temperature was not reached until 23:59:36, just 24 seconds in front of January 22, 1985.

Yes, Williston School District 29 missed being below 20 by 24 seconds on this day in 1985.

At Orangeburg Municipal Airport; the Regional Airport in Augusta, Ga.; and Columbia Metropolitan Airport, the low was –1°f in each location.  All three are record lows that still stand to this day.

City or Town 
Max Temperature (1/20) 
Min Temperature (1/20) 
Max Temperature (1/21) 
Min Temperature (1/21) 
Average Temperature on Coldest Day 
Williston-Elko High 
43
-2
20
-5 
7
Aiken 
47
6
25
0
12
Orangeburg Municipal 
46
10
28
-2
13
Hampton 
 50
9
26
-1
12 
Beaufort 
 
 
26 
16 
Barnwell County Airport 
46 
18 
27 
-3 
12 
Charleston 
 
 
27 
6 
17 
Daniel Field 
55 
30 
15 
Augusta (Ga.) Regional 
46 
25 
-1 
12 
Owens Field 
39 
24 
-1 
11 
Cayce 
46 
26 
-1 
12 
Florence 
48
25 
13 
Darlington 
48 
3 
22 
-2 
10 
North Myrtle Beach 
 
 
26
15
Greenwood 
38 
-1 
20
-8 
6
Greer 
40
26
-4
11 
Asheboro Regional 
40
0
26
-8
10
Greensboro 
36
-6 
21
-8
7
Asheville 
32
-13 
7
-16
-5
Jefferson, N.C. 
32 
-11 
0
-12
-6
Tarboro, N.C. 
47
10
17 
-5
6
New Bern 
53 
22
1
11
Charlotte 
41
-2 
24 
-5
9
Winston-Salem 
39 
-3
20 
-10 
5
Wilmington 
 
 
27 
5
16 
Statesboro 
54 
28 
0
14
Savannah-Hilton Head 
 
 
26
15
Macon 
45 
24
-6
9
Atlanta 
43 
-6
18
-8 
5
Knoxville, Tenn. 
24
-18
10
-24
-7
Nashville 
7
-16
17 
-17
-4 
Crossville, Tenn. 
-21
11 
-21 
-8
Memphis 
17 
-4 
24 
1 
6
Drakesboro, Ky. 
0 
-16 
8
-14 
-8
Paducah, Ky. 
1
-15 
17
-10
-7 
Woodbine, Ky. 
-2 
-18 
6
-16 
-10
Lexington, Ky. 
1 
-18
9
-16 †
-9
Louisville, Ky. 
2
-16
12 
-11 
-6 
Jackson, Ky. 
-18
5
-18 
-6
Olive Branch, Miss. 
22
-4 
26
2 
9
Tupelo, Miss. 
18 
-4
24 
-6 
9
Huntsville, Ala. 
18 
-9
16 
-11 
3
Muscle Shoals, Ala. 
16
-8
17
-11 
3 
Bristol, Tenn. 
25
-16
0
-21
-11
Roanoke, Va. 
30
-10
9
-11
-1
Washington, D.C. 
21
-7
17
-7 †
5

† – not a record low (records are as follows: in Lexington, Ky., –17°f on January 21, 1984; in Washington, D.C., –16°f on January 21, 1984.)

There are many other records that are not on the list, as this was the historic cold event in the United States history.  Look up those on http://wunderground.com/.  Type in the airport code and access the records for both January 20 and 21, 1985.  It’s free!

With the notable exception of the beach counties (Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Georgetown and Horry), every county’s record low occurred some time between 1982 and 1985.  Those six aforementioned counties are the only six counties that still have a record low from Valentine’s Day 1899.