The Heat Is Online

Extreme Weather Events 2002 Part 1: Jan. - June

Extreme Weather Profile -- Part II (July - December)

The year 2002 began with hundreds of brush fires circling Sydney, driving thousands of Australians from their homes more... At the same time, the worst winter storms in memory snarled traffic, closed schools and led to 10 deaths in the Southeastern U.S. more... In southern Europe, the first snow in 10 years led to 5 deaths in Greece and Turkey and paralyzed areas of Bulgaria and Romania more... In Brazil, the worst flooding to hit the state of Rio de Janeiro in 30 years killed 66 people and left two thousand homeless more...In mid-January, the northern mid-section of the U.S. experienced record warmth, with daytime high temperatures in Fairbanks, Alaska 42 degrees higher than average more... In mid-January, researchers in Antarctica reported that rupturing ice shelves were threatening the survival of thousands of baby penguins more... As a withering four-year drought in Afghanistan persisted into the new year, large numbers of farmers, unable to cultivate wheat or fruit, were forced to produce opium poppies, one of the few cash crops that survive on little water more... In late January, as record setting warmth hit the East Coast, officials in New York warned of drought as water supplies hit their lowest levels in 30 years more... At the same time, lethal wintry winds killed 16 people in Northern Europe while record heat baked cities in France, the Czech Republic and Hungary more... Meanwhile, a severe winter storm in the Midwestern U.S. killed at least 15, left a half million people without power, dumped 17 inches of snow on Chicago and closed schools in seven states more... In the Northeastern U.S., a prolonged drought cut preciptation in New England by 30 percent, drained reservoirs in Baltimore and left 100 counties under a drought watch more... According to ABC NEWS, the drought, which is affecting 29 states, has left New York City's reservoirs at half their normal winter levels and Lake Champlain in Vermont at its lowest level in 30 years more...

A prolonged drought in Central America has left tens of thousands of children in Guatemala severely malnourished, and thousands in danger of death from starvation and malnutrition more... While a long drought in Malaysia has promoted fires, covered islands with a thick haze and threatened the country's output of palm oil more... In La Paz, the worst storm to hit Bolivia in 500 years killed 48 people and left another 50 missing as parts of the capital were destroyed by intense rains more... In late February, the National Climatic Data Center announced that this winter in the United States was the warmest on record, with November through January temperatures averaging 4.3 degrees above average. Since 1976, the wintertime average has risen 1.2-degrees F. per decade more...

In late February, windstorms of more than 90 miles-per-hour slammed Britain uprooting trees, overturning vehicles and closing bridges more... At the end of February, a record deep-freezer settled into Florida, with Tallahassee registering 18 degrees more... While, in southern Chile, a prolonged drought and high winds destroyed large areas of old growth forests, creating what officials called an "environmental tragedy" more... Meanwhile, protracted heavy rains in Brazil triggered one of the largest outbreaks of dengue fever in memory in Rio de Janeiro state, with at least 70,000 people infected more... In early March, an unexpected cold snap in the U.S. killed at least 23 people more... In mid-March, after nearly two years of drought, New Jersey became the first state to impose water restrictions on homeowners, restaurants and others more... In Taiwan, prolonged drought threatened the semiconductor industry, which depends on ample water supplies to manufacture chips. Explained President Yu Shyi-kun: "The world's climate has become increasingly abnormal.Taiwan often faces prolonged droughts and flash floods." more... Four people were killed and more than hundred driven from their homes when parts of Tennessee and Kentucky received nearly four inches of rain in one day more... In Guatemala, the long drought left thousands of children acutely malnourished, with 6,000 identified at risk of dying more... While much of the world -- from Taiwan to the Eastern U.S. was ravaged by drought, Anchorage, Alaska was paralyzed by the heaviest snowstorm in memory which dropped more than 28 inches in two days more... In late March, the mayor of New York City declared a drought emergency and imposed significant water restrictions for the first time in more than a decade more... while the driest winter on record parched the southwestern U.S. more...

In early April, scientists reported that the early thaw in the Gulf of St. Lawrence the bodies of hundreds of dead seal pups, normally born on ice floes, washed ashore because their mothers were forced to bear them in open water. Researchers worried that the eventual toll might involve hundreds of thousands of harp seals more... In early April, a surprise storm dumped 8 inches of snow on the upper Midwestern U.S. snarling flights and causing hundreds of traffic accidents seals more... In China a prolonged drought, coupled with deforestation, triggered a massive dust storm which dropped more than 50,000 tons of dust on Beijing more... In the Eastern U.S., a prolonged and persistent drought, intensified by the region's second April heat wave in the last 100 years, threatened to exact major economic impacts on housing, agriculture and manufacturing businesses more... A long period of droughts and floods have left more than 2.5 million people at risk of severe malnutrition in Southern Africa, according to U.N. food officials more... In April, a team of climate scientists in the U.K. announced that the first three months of 2002 were the hottest such months ever recorded. That warmth was especially significant given the lack of an El Nino this spring more... In late April, Shackelford County, Texas was inundated when it received 11 inches of rain in six hours more... The worst-ever epidemic of dengue fever in Rio de Janeiro, which followed the area's heaviest rains in 30 years, began to abate in late April, giving way to an unusual rise in malaria more... At the end of April, parts of the Midwestern U.S. received 20 inches of snow, leaving more than 100,000 homes without power more... At the same time, an unusually wide swath of tornadoes and thunderstorms damaged communities from Missouri to Maryland more... By the end of April, torrential rains and mudslides had destroyed more than 9,000 homes in Ecuador more...

By the begining of May, 40 percent of the population of Afghanistan was facing famine, as a three-year drought, compounded by a large infestation of locusts, displaced more than a million people, killed tens of thousands of cattle and left millions malnourished more... On May 3, parts of Virginia and West Virginia were hit with 5 inches of rain in six hours. The storm killed four, left 14 missing and cut power to 180,000 homes more... In early May, Australia officials announced that April was the hottest such month in the country's weather record more... In Kenya, the worst flooding in years killed at least 53 people and displaced another 150,000 more... A heat wave in mid-May in southeastern India drove temperatures up to 120 degrees F. and left more than 1000 people dead more... In the eastern U.S., two days of heavy rains drenched communities from Texas to New England, causing deadly flooding and leaving thousands without power more... As Taiwan's worst drought in decades intensified, officials imposed water rationing in the capitol of Taipei, slowing operations of the island nation's oil refineries and computer chip makers more... The long drought, punctuated by intense floods in Afghanistan spawned record numbers of locusts, threatening that country's summer wheat crop more... While in the midwestern U.S., prolonged rains caused record flooding in Indiana and destroyed crops in Illinois and Missouri more... By mid-May, Colorado was struggling with its worst drought in decades, with towns stricken with water shortages, 443 wildfires consuming nearly 23,000 acres and officials considering canceling July 4th Celebrations more... At the end of the month, four days of torrential rains in Haiti triggered landslides, swept away bridges and left 10 people dead more... At the same time, United Nations officials warned that a protracted drought in Southern Africa had left 10 million people at risk of starvation more...

In western Pennsylvania, one person was killed and another 47 people were injured when a storm, packing winds of 105 miles an hour, tore through a local amusement park, cut power to 60,000 homes and left $10 million in damages more... At the same time, in western New York State, a record downpour dumped 6 inches of rain in two hours more...With wildfires in New Jersey, Colorado and the Southwestern U.S., and prolonged drought in the mountain states and the Eastern U.S., the United States saw more than 30,000 wildfires by June 2 – more than half again as many as during the whole of 2001 – at a loss of more than one million acres of land more... In Chile, nine people were killed and thousands rendered homeless by the worst flooding in more than a century, when parts of the country received nearly 8 inches of rain in two days -- nearly equalling the region's normal annual total more... At the same time, officials in Colorado reported that the severe drought, which had triggered many wildfires, had also caused the snowpack in the Colorado Rockies to disappear two months earlier than normal more... In Europe, four people were dead after torrential rains flooded parts of France and Germany, destroying homes and closing off streets more... In another episode, intense storms in southern Germany and France killed four people, flooded homes and swept away hundreds of cars more...

By June 10, officials urged the evacuation of more than 13,000 people from their homes around Denver, roads were closed and hundreds of homes were threatened as several wildfires raged through Colorado, in what the governor called the worst fire in the state's history. Statewide, seven fires had consumed more than 150,000 acres by mid-June more... In mid-June, intense rains in western China killed more than 200 people, left hundreds missing and destroyed thousands of homes in what officials described as the worst flooding in at least a century more... At the same time, more than a foot of rain fell near the northern border of Minnesota, collapsing a dike and inundating the town of Roseau more... In southern Africa, the persistent drought intensified concerns over food shortages, with officials predicting that more than seven million people will be affected more... In the western U.S., wildfires consumed 1.4 million acres by mid-June, including more than 100,000 acres in drought-stressed New Mexico more... As fires swept through seven states in the western U.S., officials said that the drought in some areas was worse than at any time since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s more... Meanwhile, in southern Russia, at least 93 people were killed, hundreds were missing and 86,000 were left homeless when the region received three months worth of rain in several days in what officials called the worst natural disaster since the 1930s more... As wildfires consumed nearly 2 million acres in the western U.S. by the beginning of summer, experts said they foresee a new era of drought-driven megafires in continental forestlands more... In El Salvador more than 1,300 people, mostly children, were affected by a warming-driven outbreak of hemorrhagic dengue fever more... By late June, the largest wildfire in the history of Arizona had consumed 330,000 acres and destroyed at least 375 homes more... Meanwhile, the flooding that covered large areas of China claimed 750 lives and affected 57 million people, officials said more... In eastern Ethiopia, a two-year drought has driven 500,000 people from their homes in search of food and water more... While in the Gujarat region of India, intense rains killed 20 people and forced hundreds to evacuate more...

EXTREME WEATHER PROFILE 2002 -- Part II (JULY - DECEMBER)