The Heat Is Online

Extreme Weather: 2001 -- Part I (Jan. - June)

Extreme Weather Events: 2001 -- Part II: July through December

In mid-January, China and Korea were buried under record snowfalls, while Mongolia was caught in a severe deep freeze more... while in Alaska, unusually low snowfall amounts jeopardized the annual Iditarod Race more... The unusual conditions were confirmed by scientists who noted that temperatures in Canada the year 2000 were above normal for the eighth consecutive year more... Meanwhile, parts of California were inundated as the region suffered two intense rainstorms within two weeks more... At the same time, Australia was buffeted by three severe windstorms in two weeks more... In mid-January, hundreds of starving penguins found themselves stranded on the beaches of Rio De Janeiro by unseasonal weather changes more...

In February, officials in California forecast severe electricity shortages during the summer because of a prolonged drought which has produced the fourth driest year on record for the Snake and Columbia River regions and has left the Grand Coulee reservoir at its lowest level in 25 years more... By early February, weeks of steady rain in Bolivia, killed 20, destroyed schools and left thousands of people homeless more... By early February, a succession of at least 22 intense blizzards in northern China had stranded more than 100,000 herders and left many more without food more... At the same time, officials in Minnesota reported that three warm, dry winters had left Lake Superior at its lowest level in 75 years more... And in South Florida, the worst drought in decades reduced orange crops and prompted extensive water restrictions more...

In late February, a combined spell of drought and frost triggered the spread of 1,230 wildfires in Florida six weeks into 2001, closing highways, deterring tourists and prompting officials to fear the damage may exceed that of 1998, the state's worst fire year more... At the same time, near the Altacama desert in northern Chile, considered the driest desert in the world, intense rains left more than $8 million in damages, prompting official declarations of disaster more... Intense flooding left more than $30 million in damages, killed 41 and left hundreds of thousands of people without homes in Mozambique more...

At the end of February, severe storms, hail and tornadoes crippled cities from Minnesota to Mississippi more... while, at the same time, the U.N. declared that a protracted drought, reflecting a warming-driven change in precipitation patterns, was putting some 60 million people at risk of famine from Africa to Central Asia more...

In early March, major disruptions were averted when a potential megastorm in the northeastern U.S. turned into a blustery winter storm, dumping up to 20 inches in parts of New England, closing schools, business and airports, and flooding roadways more... At the same time, intense rains battered California, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, dropping as much as 13 inches in the southern part of the state more...

In mid-March, Australia suffered its worst flooding in 50 years, the country's third major flood in five months more..., while flooding from a rapid thaw in the Ukraine left 11,000 people homeless more... and an intense Pacific storm on the coast of Ecuador triggered a state of emergency more... In Mexico, freak winter storms and cold apparently killed millions of monarch butterflies more... At the same time, officials in Georgia, which is anticipating its fourth summer of drought, announced a program to pay farmers not to irrigate their land more... The drought was already spawning bizarre effects in Florida in mid-March, drying up wet areas and driving alligators into streets and yards in a number of that state's towns more... At the end of March, officials in Brazil warned of a extensive power interruptions this summer from drought-reduced hydropower reserves more... while, in France, officials evacuated several areas because of floods fueled by rains which tripled normal March totals more...

In mid-April, officials expressed concerns that the worst drought in 60 years in East Africa could soon trigger severe food shortages more... while, at the same time, Angola suffered intense flooding in its southern coastal areas and wilting drought conditions in the southern interior more... In the U.S. the Midwest was raked by unusually heavy weather, as heavy storms and tornadoes struck a wide area from Texas to Nebraska more... Meanwhile, residents of Minnesota and South Dakota braced for a possible repeat of the devastating floods of 1997, as heavy rains and melting snow raised river levels to record heights more... While in Oregon, a protracted drought in the Pacific Northwest forced authorities to jeopardize salmon breeding by witholding normally-diverted water to offset impending electricity shortages more... By late April, a prolonged drought fueled more than 2,000 wildfires in various parts of Florida more... While in France, the heaviest six-month rainfall on record delayed crop-planting, left thousands homeless and reduced tourism in Paris more... While deforestation in parts of Malaysia's highlands added to the devastation of spring floods more... And in the Somme region of France, some 3,000 homes remained under water for as long a month in the wake of the region's worst flooding in memory more...

In early May, at least 36 people had died in one of the hottest springs on record in Pakistan more... while in Britain the wettest winter in more than 270 years has continued to experience near-constant rainfall more... Meanwhile, thousands of residents were displaced when Siberia experienced its worst flooding in a century more... At the same time, a protracted drought in Brazil has created a political crisis, reducing electricity supplies and subjecting 170 million people to blackouts more... And in Florida more than 61,000 acres were consumed by drought-driven wildfires more... At the same time, Houston suffered one of its worst natural disasters in history, as tropical storm Allison dropped 35 inches of rain in one week, killing 20, flooding out thousands of residents of south Texas and Louisiana and leaving $2 billion in damages more... The same storm, several days later, dumped more than 9 inches of rain in Philadelphia, flooding roads, evacuating residents and causing two deaths more... While in Ecuador at least 48 people perished in mudslides brought on by four days of torrential rains more... At the same time, severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes and drenching rains raked the central U.S. from Wisconsin to Texas more... In June, the Toledo Blade reported that the Great Lakes, already at their lowest level in 50 years, could drop by three feet in the next 30 years due to atmospheric warming more... A severe hailstorm in late June in Denver stranded 1,500 passengers and fouled schedules for more than a week when golf ball-sized hailstones damaged more than 80 planes more... As flood waters receded in Houston and damages approached $5 billion, residents experienced the worst mosquito infestation in memory more... While in China, a late June typhoon killed 73 people and left another 87 missing more... Meanwhile, south Texas skies turned yellow and towns were covered by dust from a migrating sandstorm from the Sahara desert more... While on the Texas - Mexico border, scientists noted that a prolonged drought, as well as overuse, has shrunk the Rio Grande, formerly the country's second biggest river, to a trickling stream more...

Extreme Weather Profile 2001 -- Part II: July through December