The Heat Is Online

1999 Extreme Events: January - June

In January, 1999, Fiji declared a natural disaster in the aftermath of flooding in which at least seven people died. The flooding, caused by a cyclone, came on the heels of a prolonged drought, which destroyed 60 percent of Fiji's sugar cane crop last year and cost more than 50 million Fijian dollars (25 million US) in relief and rehabilitation. more...

In mid-January, Toronto labored under 18 inches of now,paralysing public transit and prompting Mayor Mel Lastman to call for help from the military. "We are experiencing the worst snowfall ever in Toronto and unfortunately more snow is on the way," he told reporters.more...

U.S. insurers paid catastrophe claims totaling an estimated $1.75 billion for property damage from four January, 1999 events, making this the third-costliest January since 1949 when modern catastrophe-loss record keeping began.This January's catastrophe losses already exceed by $750 million total catastrophe losses for the entire first quarter of 1998. more...

In early January the worst snowstorm to blanket the Midwest in 20 years was blamed for more than 90 deaths. Snow and ice kept schools in St. Francois, County, Missouri closed for 10 consecutive days. In mid-January, snow closed schools, canceled flights and shut down roads from Ohio to Massachusetts. Buffalo received more than 50 inches of snow in the first two weeks of January.more... That same month, forecasters predicted that 1999 may be the most destructive year for tornadoes. The preliminary total of 169 tornadoes in January alone more than tripled the previous record of 52 set in 1975.more...

In February, the heaviest snowstorms in Europe in 40 years triggered a succession of avalanches in the Swiss, Austrian and Italian Alps which killed more than 70 people. By Feb. 23, Mt. Baker in Washington State had received 20 feet of snow in three weeks.More...

In early March, the worst flooding in Brazil in this decade killed 27 people and left 10,000 people homeless in Sao Paolo. At the same time, the Pacific island nation of Kiribati declared a state of emergency following a prolonged drought that nearly exhausted the country's freshwater supplies and turned the island into a chain of dustbowls. more...

In late March, one of the worst tropical cyclones in history, with winds exceeding 180 mph, battered Australia’s northwest coast, destroying buildings and causing widespread flooding. more... At the same time, the worst drought in China since the 1980s left 19 million people short of drinking water and threatened the survival of crops on more than 21 million acres of farmland in the country’s northeast region. The Chinese news agency noted that rainfall in parts of china was more than 70 percent lower than normal. There was no rain for more than 40 days in most of the winter wheat-growing regions in the northeast. more... At the same time, residents of the southern island of New Zealand received their first significant rainfall in 18 months. The drought cost New Zealand’s farmers more than $500 million (NZ), about $200 million more than agriculture officials had predicted. more... At the same time, the worst floods in living memory left more than 1200 square miles of eastern Hungary under water.> more...

In mid-April, 1999, more than 40 people were killed by mudslides in western Colombia following several weeks of torrential rains. more... while Boston experienced the driest April in 129 years of record keeping. more... That same dry April, more than 2,500 wildfires burned more than 230,000 acres in Florida. In the Everglades, flames blackened an area of sawgrass 24 miles long and 15 miles wide. more...

The same drought triggered electricity rationing and frequent blackouts in Chile as the weather dried up hydroelectric power reservoirs that produce more than half the country’s electricity. more...

In mid-April, at least 60 tornadoes, some the most violent in memory, caused millions of dollars in damage, destroying homes, closing roads, killing six people and causing states of emergency to be declared in three Ohio counties. On April 10, tornadoes destroyed more than 200 homes in two Cincinnati suburbs. more... A month later, the strongest tornado ever recorded, with winds measured at 318 miles-per-hour, devastated Oklahoma City. more...

Following a near rainless winter, intense spring heat exceeding 40* C. dried glacial lakes, destroyed crops and triggered a series of wildfires while at least 150 people died from heat stroke in Nepal and northern India. "Global warming has begun to show its effect on the Himalayan region which is proved by this year's long dry spell," said Suresh Raj Chalise of the Mountain Natural Resources Division of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Birganj, Nepal. more...

In early May, thousands of Colorado residents had to be evacuated in the wake of intense flooding. more... On May 17, Manchester, Iowa was buried by four feet of water as intense rainstorms contaminated local drinking water supplies. more... Two weeks later, more than half of Mexico was in a state of disaster as a result of the worst drought in living memory. One resident noted many cattle were dying of thirst while many calves were stillborn. more... Three days later, one of the most severe cyclones in memory, with winds of 170 miles an hour, battered Pakistan’s southern coast, leaving more than 1,000 people missing. more...

The following week, torrential rains in southern Germany and Austria produced what the interior minister of Bavaria called "the flood of the century". more... Late May also saw forest fires ravaging four different regions of Siberia as record temperatures of more than 30* C set thousands of acres ablaze in central and eastern Siberia. more...Meanwhile, officials in North Korea said that four years of drought and floods had left more than 200,000 people dead from starvation and malnutrition more. . .While officials of the Center for Disease Controls announced the sharpest increase in the U.S. of hantavirus since they began tracking the disease. Hantavirus, a frequently lethal pulmonary virus, is directly traceable to extreme weather patterns more. . . At least 700 people are missing and another 160 dead from one of the worst cyclones to hit Pakistan in years.more. . .After experiencing a month-long downpour of heavy rains, northern Peru struggled to recover after severe floods there have displaced more than 25,000 people. The month of May brought Peru's northern region its heaviest rain in 30 years, leaving the affected areas along 300 miles of the Amazon under water. more. . .In early June, government officials announced that the worst drought in 50 years had crippled agriculture in Spain more. . . While, in late June, rising sea levels, driven by greenhouse warming, were blamed for the submersion of two islands in the South Pacific more. . .

Click here for Part II of 1999 Extreme Events