The Heat Is Online

1999 Extreme Events: July - December

In early July, Boston received its first measurable rainfall in 38 days, leading to concerns about a region-wide drought more. . . While in the area surrounding Moscow, the hottest June in 118 years triggered an average of 50 forest fires a day more . . .At the same time, floods killed more than 40 people in Nepal more. . .

In the Northeastern U.S., more than 70 people died in an intense heat wave more . . . The heat wave also resulted in the deaths of thousands of fish in New Jersey more . . . At the same time, nearly 2 million people were evacuated from raging floods in China more . . . In early July, floods also killed at least 9 people in Romania more . . . while the worst floods in perhaps 100 years inundated Las Vegas more . . .

At the same time as parts of New Zealand were buried by 39 inches of snow, more . . ., Iran's agriculture minister proclaimed "a catastrophic year" for that country's agriculture because of a protracted drought more . . . While in the western U.S. officials braced for an unusually active forest fire season more . . .

By early August, the death toll from the heat wave in the Midwest and Northeastern US reached 271 as the federal government approved $55 million to buy air conditioners for people unable to afford them more . . . At the same time, the worst drought in the US at least since the dustbowl of the early 1930s resulted in declarations of disaster in parts of six states and water restrictions in others more . . . Meanwhile, floods and mudslides drove more than 40,000 people from their homes in Manila more . . . The death toll from the Yangtze River flood in China reached 725 more . . . and thousands of North Koreans were made homeless as the area near the South Korean border received 29 inches of rain in three days more . . . While in Nevada, fires blackened more than 1 million acres more . . . In mid-August, the first fatal tornado in history hit Salt Lake City more . . .

By late August, as floods displaced millions of people in southern China, a severe drought created drinking water shortages in Hong Kong and Shenzen more . . . Meanwhile in drought-stricken New England, inn-keepers braced for a big drop off in tourism because of the lack of colorful fall foliage more . . . , while in New York state authorities received a flurry of reports about bears invading rural households in search of food more . . . In late August, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute reported spotting three species of tropical fish -- Amberjacks, Mahi-Mahi and Blue Marlins -- for the first time in the North Atlantic because of warming waters more . . . And near the end of August, New York City was paralyzed by a flash flood which inundated highways and subways, dropping up to four inches of rain in two hours more . . .

In late August, authorities reported a locally transmitted case of malaria in Long Island. more . . . A few days later, in early September, health authorities reported 37 cases of mosquito-borne encephalitis in Queens, N.Y.. The cases, which involved at least three fatalities, were the first ever recorded in New York City. Authorities noted that conditions for the transmission of the disease were created by an unusually wet spring and hot, dry summer more . . .

While most of the southeast was spared the fury of Hurricane Floyd's 125 mile-per-hour winds in mid-September, the flooding brought by the Texas-sized storm displaced 3 million people, left millions of dollars in damages in New Jersey and North Carolina and killed at least 48 people, making it the deadliest storm in North Carolina's history. Drinking water in North Carolina was contaminated with raw sewage, large quantities of chemicals and the rotting carcasses of more than a million chickens and turkeys and thousands of hogs.The flooding stranded thousands of residents in makeshift shelters and overwhelmed sewage treatment plants. Authorities constructed special incinerators to burn the remains of the drowned animals. more . . .

In Mexico, an October flood, which President Ernesto Zedillo called Mexico’s worst disaster this decade, killed at least 333 people and left more than 250,000 homeless. The storm dropped more than two-and-a-half feet of water -- more than a normal year's amount of rain -- in just a few days. more . . . At the same time, a massive iceberg measuring about 50 miles by 17 miles was traveling toward the southern tip of Chile and was threatening to block shipping lanes. The iceberg broke away from Antarctica in 1992. A spokesperson for Chile’s Antarctic Scientific Institute said global warming was no doubt contributing "to the disintegration of the ice." The iceberg is estimated to be 20 times larger than Manhattan. more . . .

In early November, a "super cyclone" devastated the province of Orissa, in eastern India, killing about 10,000 people, leaving more than a million homeless and washing entire villages into the Bay of Bengal. Government workers burned piles of corpses to try to limit disease outbreaks while thousands of residents rioted, looting stores and preventing aid workers from distributing water purification tablets. more . . . A week after the "super cyclone" in the Bay of Bengal, Vietnam was hit by the worst flooding in 100 years. The flooding, which killed more than 400 people and left thousands homeless, prompted the government to mobilize all the country's military personnel to address the crisis more . . .

A second series of flooding rains in two months left more than 750,000 people homeless in Vietnam in December. The flooding, which killed more than 100 people, also devastated rice crops more . . . Meanwhile, Israel's worst drought in nearly a century has prompted calls by that country's environmental minister for a national state of emergency more . . . At the same time, a "killer" storm swept through northern Europe, where winds exceeding 100 miles an hour killed 17 people, toppled power lines, and tore roofs off houses more . . . At the same time, two months of torrential rains caused havoc in Central Africa, causing the Congo to overflow in what officials called "the flood of the century" more . . . In mid-December, torrential floods, mudslides and overflowing rivers killed as many as 50,000 people and left 150,000 homeless in the worst natural disaster to strike Venezuela in the 20th Century more . . .

As December came to an end, winds of up to 120 miles an hour battered France, Germany and Switzerland, killing more than 120 people, damaging a million homes and leaving nearly 3.5 million homes without power in France. Damage from the storms was estimated at more than $4 billion, making it Europe's all-time largest insurance catastrophe more . . . At the same time, Boston experienced the longest period in 109 years without snow. In the past century, December temperatures in Boston have jumped from an average of 33.7 degrees to 40.6 degrees in 1999. Boston's record stretch of 291 days without snow eclipsed the previous record of 274 days set in 1998 more . . . At the end of the year, researchers at NOAA announced that 1999 was the second hottest year in the United States, with the spring months of April through July emerging as the second driest spring in history more . . .