The Heat Is Online

Extreme Weather Profile: January-June, 2003

EXTREME WEATHER PROFILE: July-December, 2003

One of the strongest Pacific cyclones on record, with winds up to 220 miles-per-hour, destroyed more than 15 villages on the island of Tikopia in the south Pacific more . . . In early January, hurricane force winds and torrential rains battered Europe killing at least six people, flooding tens of thousands of homes and hampering rail, road and waterway traffic from Germany to Portugal more . . .  In South Asia nearly 400 people died in a severe cold snap. In Bangladesh alone, more than 260 people died from the cold as temperatures dipped toward the freezing mark more . . . In early January, Agriculture Officials announced that last year's drought had cut U.S. wheat yields to their lowest level in 30 years more . . .   In Lesotho in Southern Africa, altered rainfall patterns, untimely frost and severe storms destroyed crops and contributed to unusual famine conditions.  Said one local farmer: "Frost in the summertime! We never used to see weather like this. We don't know what to expect anymore from the skies. I think God is angry at us, but I don't know why." more. . . In Brazil, days of torrential rains triggered mudslides that killed 16 people outside Rio de Janeiro more . . . In Malawi, thousands of people were displaced by massive flooding which the president called "a disaster of the highest proportion." The flooding intensified food shortages which had been brought on by that country's prolonged drought more . . . In mid-January, a study indicated that Australia's worst drought in memory, which decimated the country's winter wheat crop and reduced its sheep population back to 1920 levels, was directly aggravated by climate change more . . . Fiji suffered the impacts of its worst cyclone since 1987 when winds of up to 125 miles per hour ravaged the island, killing two children more . . . In South Asia, a highly unusual four-week cold snap killed more than 1,300 people by mid-January. The 37-degree F. temperatures killed numerous homeless people in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh more . . . In Canberra the worst firestorm in history destroyed at least 388 homes as one of the worst droughts to hit Australia in a century continued. Officials estimated the brushfires alone had already cost the country $100 million Australian (about $60 million US) more . . . In mid-January, a return to normally cold winter temperatures chilled the Midwestern U.S.. But an abnormal cold snap hit the Northeast, with the weather service warning of the worst cold snap in Boston in 100 years. Scientists speculated the unusual cold along the coast could be due to the rapid melting of arctic sea ice which chilled surface waters in the Atlantic Ocean -- as well as to a cold phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation more . . . The same wave of cold weather brought the first heavy snowfall to coastal North Carolina in 13 years more . . . and registered record lows from South Carolina to Mississippi to south Florida more . . .

In early February in Australia, officials declared the 11-month drought, which affected the entire state of New South Wales was the worst on record more . . . In the Democratic Republic of Congo, an intense storm, with torrential rains and winds of up to 185-miles-per-hour, killed 164 people, injured more than 1,700 and flattened thousands of homes more . . . In early February, temperatures in Alaska ranged from 30 to 40-degrees F., causing rapid melting, heaving rainstorms and wind advisories more . . . In late February, as a prolonged cold snap dropped temperatures throughout the continental U.S., a record storm dropped 27.5 inches of snow on Boston more . . . while a series of ice storms in the southern U.S. killed at least 15 people in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma more . . . By late February, the winter of 2002-2003 in the U.S. was breaking records and busting snow removal budgets across the country more . . . Meanwhile, in Jerusalem more than a foot of snow paralyzed Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, bringing a rare respite to hostilities in the region more . . . In Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Southern Africa, a prolongued drought, compounded by government mismanagement, raised fears of a widespread famine later in the spring more . . .

Despite a huge budget deficit the Colorado legislature appropriated $850 to try to rescue the state's tourism industry which was decimated by a record drought and unprecedented wildfires more . . . Meanwhile, in Alaska, a lack of snow cover and an unusual number of thawed rivers and lakes forced race organizers to reroute the traditional Iditarod dog sled race more . . .

By mid-March, Boston had received more than 65 inches of snow -- four times the amount in the winter of 2001-2002 and more than twice the city's normal snowfall. Meanwhile, in the Midwest, researchers reported that three of the Great Lakes -- Huron, Superior and Erie had frozen over for the first time in more than a decade more . . . In Eritrea, a prolongued drought began to give way to famine, with growing numbers of people dying from food shortages more . . . The Brazilian military was called in to fight raging wildfires in the northern areas of the Amazon Rainforest, fuelled by an El Nino-driven drought more . . . While in Los Angeles, an intense storm dropped more than four inches of rain on the city in one day, triggering more than 1,000 auto accidents more . . . In the worst snowstorm in nearly a century, Denver was swamped by 53 inches of snow in 5 days. The storm snarled roads, stranded motorists,tore a hole in the roof of the Denver airport and left up to 11 feet of snow in some areas more . . . A string of tornadoes whipped through southwestern Georgia killing six people and injuring 200, while the lingering effects of the current El Nino has exacerbated drought in the area more . . . In late March, NOAA projected an unusually dry spring in the western U.S., threatening crops and prompting fears of more wildfires more . . . In western Colombia, torrential rains triggered mudslides that killed 19 people and left another 20 missing more . . . Days later, rains triggered a massive landslide in northern Bolivia that killed 14 and left more than 200 missing more . . .

In Florida, an extreme cold period followed by warm, unseasonably humid weather, left farmers with their worst strawberry harvest in at least 20 years more . . . while in upstate New York, a freak April snowstorm, followed by freezing rain, left more than 100,000 people without power more . . . Much of Jackson, Mississippi was underwater in early April after a storm dropped torrents of of rain. Officials said the seven-inch rainfall on April 7 was the heaviest in the history of the city more . . . In north Texas, intense winds pelted the area with softball-sized hailstones which left more than $30 million in damages more . . .  By mid April, officials in Utah announced that much of the state's agriculture was at risk from a four-year drought which continued to intensify more. . .  In Afghanistan  five people were killed and hundreds displaced in the worst flash flooding to hit the country in more than 50 years more. . .  A group of water-starved baboons attacked a group of girls in Kenya to try to steal their water containers, as a deep drought dried up water supplies north of Nairobi  more. . .   The most powerful thunderstorm in decades in Northeast India killed 36 people, injured 2,500 others and left about 3,000 homeless more . . .

In early May, following several days of intense rains, the worst flooding in memory killed 16 people and displaced another 100,000 in  Argentina  more. . .  Across the Atlantic, in rural Kenya, torrential flooding killed 30 people and left some 10,000 homeless more . . .    The floods later burst a dam, leaving one million people in Nairobi at risk of water shortages more. . . At the same time, violent storms triggered 80 tornadoes over the weekend battering parts of Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee and Kansas , especially the area around Kansas City,  killing at least 40 people more. . .   One particularly  powerful tornado injured 114 people in the area around Oklahoma City more. . .  In mid-May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared that the 412 tornadoes that raked the U.S. during the first 10 days of May were the largest such number on record more . . .A similar violent storm devastated an area of eastern Bangladesh killing 19 people, injuring 400 and leaving another 19 people missing more. . . while in Croatia a severe drought in the nation's breadbasket decimated crops triggering declarations of disaster by local officials more. . . At the same time, the worst flooding in 30 years -- that dropped a foot of rain in four days in parts of the South left $17 million in damages in Chattanooga alone more. . .  Meanwhile, a severe heat wave in parts of Mexico, with temperatures in some places reaching 111 degrees, triggered wildfires which consumed more than 370,000 acres more. . . In Mid-May, NOAA announced the U.S. witnessed a record- breaking week of tornadoes from May 4 to 10, when 384 twisters struck in 19 states. That number had risen to 450 for the month of May by May 16, according to ABC News more. . . 

The worst flooding in memory on the island nation of  Sri Lanka has killed 260 people,  left 500 others missing and left more than  350,000 people without homes more. . .  By mid-May, the continued flooding of Kenya and Ethiopia  had left more than 160 people and displaced more than 160,000 in East Africa more . . .  More than 430 people in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have died in an intense heat wave that generated temperatures of 116 degrees F. and extended the region's most severe drought in 40 years.  The heat wave also claimed some 30 lives in Pakistan more. . . In the Philippines a severe three-day storm killed 15 people and left widespread flooding in its wake more . . .  In Illinois, some 25 tornadoes bombarded an area in the north central part of the state in a period of several hours more. . .   By as late May, 11 states in the Western U.S. were already experiencing "extreme" or "exceptional" drought conditions more . . .  That same drought triggered bitter tensions among residents on then Mexican side of the Rio Grande who accused Texans of taking more than their fair allotment of water  more . . .  By early June, the relentless heat wave in India and Pakistan had claimed more than 1,400 lives more . . .  In Mexico, torrential rains triggered mudslides which swept away people and buildings, rupturing a gas line and setting off a series of explosions more . . . Hundreds of homes were destoryed and thousands made homeless when hurricanes and torrential rains pummeled northern Tajikistan, leaving tens of millions of dollars in damages more. . .  In Kenya, the increase in protracted droughts and severe flooding was attributed to global warming by Grace Akumu, executive director of Network Africa more . . .

In the mountain states of Nevada, Utah and Idaho -- following three consecutive mild winters and drought conditions -- residents struggled with a the worst plague of Mormon Crickets in memory that infested more than five million acres and left at least $25 million in agricultural losses more . . .  In West Virginia, floodwaters overflowed rivers near Charleston, blocking the airport and sweeping away more than 50 homes more . . .  In northeastern India, intense moonsoon rains drove 400,000 people from their homes as soldiers struggled to maintain order  more . . .   Following the  record-setting drought of the spring of 2002, the northeastern U.S. saw record amounts of rainfall during  May and June, with  two-thirds of the days marked by rain more . . .   Rainfall in New York City set a new record, with more than 10 inches falling in June more . . . In June, following an unusually wet spring in certain parts of the U.S. and unusually dry conditions in others, officials in all 50 states issued warnings about outbreaks of West Nile Virus more . . .  In Nebraska, violent weather dropped a foot of rain, spawned several tornadoes and loosed what residents called "volley-ball sized" hail stones more. . . While in Arizona, hot, dry winds spread a wildfire over more than 19,000 acres northeast of Tucson more. . .  In southwest China, torrential rains triggered mudslides that killed 17 people and left another 24 missing more. . .   Intense flooding and severe mudslides in Bangladesh killed 58 people and stranded more than 150,000  others more . . .

EXTREME WEATHER PROFILE: July-December,2003