The Heat Is Online

Extreme Weather Profile: July - December, 2003

With tropical storm Bill dumping record rainfalls on Mobile, Alabama and Pascagoula, Mississippi, thousands of people along the U.S. Gulf Coast were left without electricity more . . .  In an extraordinary report, the World Meteorological Organization attributed the increase in extreme weather events worldwide -- from record heat in France and Switzerland, to an unprecedented outbreak of tornadoes in the U.S., to extraordinary floods and landslides in Sri Lanka -- directly to global climate change  more. . .   In eastern China, the heaviest rain in 72 years triggered the evacuation of more than 200,000 people more. . .  

In early July, five successive days of thunderstorms caused flash flooding in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia, with golf-ball sized hail falling in northern Illinois  more. . .   A stifling heat wave in Europe, parched crops, triggered water shortages and triggered heat related deaths from Britain to Italy more . . .  As monsoons generated a bumper crop of mosquitoes, residents of Cambodia braced for a major outbreak of potentially fatal dengue fever more . . . In Japan, torrential rains triggered flash flooding and landslides that killed 11 people more . . .  With torrential rains and gusts up to 143 miles per hour, the Philippines were paralyzed by the biggest typhoon in five years more . . . In late July, a series of lethal thunderstorms rocked the eastern U.S., closing airports, flooding streets and knocking out electricity from Tennessee to New York more . . .  Gathering strength as it left the Philippines, Typhoon Imbudo hit South China with winds of 175 mph more . . .  The persistent drought that parched Europe, from Romania to Germany, has gouged a multibillion-dollar hole into Europe's economy, crippling shipping, shriveling crops and driving up the cost of electricity. In France, where the drought triggered forest fires, four people perished in late July  more . . .  Flooding in the midwestern U.S., from Illinois to Kentucky, has driven hundreds from their homes, cut power to thousands and generated millions in damages more . . . More than 100,000 people were stranded, and another 88 killed, when torrential floods battered southern Pakistan at the end of July more . . .  In Europe, the hot, dry summer, which followed last spring's devastating floods, was seen from Norway to Spain as evidence of global warming more . . .  The same hot, dry conditions in western Canada triggered the worst wildfires in 50 years which drove more than 7,500 residents from their homes in British Columbia more . . .

In South Asia, hundreds of people have lost their lives due to torrential rains which have devastated parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan more . . .  Meanwhile, officials in Portugal declared a fire emergency as 70 wildfires consumed thousands of acres of forest more . . .  Over the spring, the southeastern U.S. struggled with record rainfalls. Mobile, Alabama received the largest amount of rain between May and July than in the past 123 years or record keeping more . . .  By Aug. 8, the death toll from the extended drought and heat wave in Europe reached 37 more. . .  At the same time, officials estimated that the damages from Portugal's unprecedented wildfires topped $1 billion  more . . . while, in Germany, the exceptionally warm waters in the overheated Rhine River killed more than 30,000 eels more. . . In western Japan, 11 people were missing and hundreds of homes destroyed after a storm dropped 20 inches of rain in three days more . . . In Ethiopia, where a long drought was followed by weeks of intense rains, UN officials warned that tens of thousands of residents were at risk of a major epidemic of malaria more . . .  

As Pope John Paul called on followers to pray for rain, the relentless heat wave in Europe continued with temperatures breaking the 100-degree mark in Britain for the first time in recorded history and at least 100 people dying in Paris of heat impacts in one week more. . .  By mid-August, French health officials said that up to 3,000 deaths could be attributed to the extraordinary heat of the previous weeks more . . . Days later, the French minister of health resigned as unconfirmed estimates put the death toll at 5,000 more . . .  In the Seychelle Islands, in the western part of the Indian Ocean, officials attributed the rapid die-off of plankton to global warming, warning the dieoff was threatening marine life in the area more . . .  With the Danube river at its lowest level in 100 years, Croatia suffered through its worst drought in half a century more . . .  While in Las Vegas, flash flood dropped three inches of rain on the city in 90 minutes more. . . In neighboring Colorado, following reports of 58 new cases of West Nile Virus, officials declared health emergencies in two counties more. . .

By Aug. 21, officials in France estimated that the number of deaths from this summer's heat wave would exceed 10,000 people -- more than double earlier estimates more . . .  In Portugal, the death toll peaked at about 1,300 -- a figure officials attributed to their preparations as a result of an earlier heat wave more. . .  Officials said that more than 4,100 elderly people were killed by the heat wave in Italy more . . . 

In British Columbia, the worst fires in 50 years drove 30,000 people from their homes in several hours more . . .  In Australia, scientists told government officials that portions of the country's forests which were ravaged by drought-driven earlier in the year, won't recover fully for about 200 years.  The same drought depleted the country's agricultural production by about 80 percent more . . .  A brutal heat wave blistered parts of the U.S. Midwest, with temperatures in Nebraska exceeding 100 degrees for nine of 10 days more . . . As the long summer heat wave broke in late August, officials in Europe estimated that the overall death toll could be as high as 20,000 people more . . .  In northwest China, intense flooding and landslides forced the evacuation of 25,000 people and affected some 240,000 more . . .   while, in Kansas, four children were killed when torrential rains washed their minivan  off the highway more . . .  In Hungary, the largest lake in Central Europe, Lake Balaton, is drying up, with evaporation exceeding precipitation in the area for four consecutive years more . . . 

The strongest typhoon to hit south China in a quarter of a century has killed at least 86 people dead, injured more than 100 and left more than $240 million in damages more . . .  A two-year drought in Kansas and Nebraska have cost farmers about $2 billion in lost crops more. . .  The strongest hurricane to hit Bermuda in 50 years snapped trees, knocked out power and inundated large parts of the island more . . .  By early September, the worst wildfire outbreak in decades in western Canada had driven nearly 4,500 families from their homes in British Columbia more. . .   By early September, more than 500,000 people were driven from their homes by three weeks of flooding in China's Shaanxi Province which left at least 38 people dead more . . .  In central Mali  intense flooding has killed four people and destroyed 180 historic structures in the ancient city of Timbuktu more. . .

With 2003 setting records as one of the worst wildfire seasons in years, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization warned that climate change is driving a steady increase in fires around the world more. . .  In eastern India, several weeks of  flooding resulted in more than 200 deaths and the evacuation of more than 100,000 people more . . .  In mid-September, the strongest typhoon in South Korea's recorded history toppled construction cranes, shut down nuclear power plants, killed 91 people, left almost one and a half million people without electricity and caused about $1.3 billion in economic damage more . . .  The mid-Atlantic states along the East Coast of the U.S. averted major damage when Hurricane Isabel lost power as it moved on shore.  The storm knocked out power to more than two million people more. . .  In late September, officials in France raised the total of deaths from that country's ferocious heat wave to 14,802 more . . .  In early October, the Yellow River overflowed its banks in three places in China putting 86,000 people at risk of becoming stranded more . . .  According to a final tally by the Earth Policy Institute, the summer heat wave in Europe claimed more than 35,000 victims more . . .

Monsoons which lashed southern India triggered one of that country's worst outbreaks of dengue fever in years, with 5,100 infected and 83 confirmed dead more . . .  In Algeria torrential rains pounded the western regions of the country, triggering floods and mudslides that killed at least 13 people more . . .  In October, the U.S. National Climatic Data Center announced that September, 2003, was the warmest September worldwide on record, about 1 degree F. above normal more. . .

In central Vietnam, floods destroyed thousands of homes, submerged roads and led to at least 38 deaths more . . .  In the Pacific Northwest, torrential rains overflowed rivers, swamped roads and caused hundreds of evacuations, leaving millions of dollars of damages in Washington State and Vancouver, B.C., more. . .  In late October, unseasonably hot, dry weather fanned a wildfire in Southern California which drove thousands of people from their homes. The fires, intensified by drought, beetle infestations and dry winds, closed an FAA aviation tower and forced an NFL game to be moved from San Diego to Arizona.  By Oct. 29, the fires had destroyed more than 2,500 homes, left 16 people dead and consumed more than 900 square miles and displaced some 60,000 people more . . .  While in Missouri, unusually warm weather triggered an bigger infestation of ladybugs that residents could remember more. . . .   In Thailand, following a five-day monsoon, one of the worst floods in memory drove more than 200,000 people from their homes more. . . While in Indonesia, a torrent of water, mud and logs left more than 70 people dead and at least 100 missing more . . . 

In early November, more than 2,000 firefighters finally contained the last of California's wildfires.  The final tally, according to officials, involved the burning of  some 750,000 square acres -- fueled by trees killed by an infestation of bark beetles -- and the loss of more than 3,500 homes more . . .  While the last of the fires was still smouldering, Southern California was hit by a freak storm which dumped five inches of rain and hail, halting flights, snarling traffic and leaving thousands without power more . . .  In mid-November, an extremely strong windstorm swept through the Northeastern U.S., knocking out power to 1.4 million people, tossing around cars and trucks and killing two people more . . .  At the same time, torrential rains in Vietnam flooded roads, killed several people and destroyed thousands of homes more . . . 

In late November, a storm tore through the southeastern U.S., toppling trees, injuring 54 people and leaving about 50,000 homes without power more . . .  In southeastern France, floodwaters killed three people, caused the shutdown of two nuclear plants and drive more than 1,000 people from their homes more . . .  At the same time, three days of heavy rains forced the evacuation of more than 4,000 people in northwest Venezuela more . . .  In the Caribbean, the first named tropical storm ever to hit in December, lashed the Dominican Republic, triggering the evacuation of more than 10,000 people more. . .  At the same time, a record-setting snowstorm barreled through New England, dumping up to three feet of snow in greater Boston and paralyzing parts of the region more . . .

Days of heavy rains loosed a series of mudslides in the southern Philippines which killed at least 200 people and left hundreds missing more. . .  One effect of the summer's record setting wildfires in southern California became apparent in late December when an intense two-inch downpour triggered a mudslide with 12-foot waves of mud which buried roads, destroyed buildings, killed seven people and 10 others missing more . . .  In southern Oregon, a freak snowstorm dumped up to two and a half feet, stranding hundreds of drivers inside their cars on local highways more . . .