The Heat Is Online

Extreme Weather Profile: January - June 2004

At the beginning of January, a bitter winter cold snap in northern India killed at least 189 people as temperatures hovered about 10 degrees C. below normal more. . . An intense blizzard -- the second in a week -- blasted parts of northern California and Oregon, cutting power to 25,000 people and stranding an Amtrak train for 14 hours more. . .  A week later, icy conditions closed Oregon highways, cut power to another 35,000 residents and closed schools and airports more . . .  While in New England, a deep freeze dropped temperatures below zero, breaking an 1875 record in Boston and lowering temperatures in parts of Vermont to minus 35 degrees. Officials said at least 10 people had died from the extreme cold more. . .   As much of the U.S. was locked in a long winter chill from a succession of arctic storms,  a series of cold fronts in Brazil triggered a relentless and continuing rains and mudslides which killed 84 people and left more than 40,000 homeless more. . . 

In the southern African country of Lesotho, a three-year drought is killing cattle, withering crops, drying up drinking water supplies and threatening the food security of some six million people more . . .  In early February, one of the most relentless winters in memory continued to batter the Midwest and Eastern U.S. as snowstorms, floods and power outages affected areas from Mississippi to Maryland more . . .  By mid-February, the record flooding in Brazil had killed 119 people, destroyed crops, driven more than 180,000 people from their homes and sparked widespread fears of outbreaks of dengue fever, leptospirosis and other diseases more . . . At the same time, a fresh round of storms loosed a whiteout in the upper Midwestern U.S., closing airport and roads, and triggered storms in New Mexico and North Carolina more . . .  In mid-February, the heaviest blizzards in decades killed 20 people in Turkey, blocking roads, closing shipping lanes and paralyzing Istanbul more. . .  In neighboring Greece, one of the heaviest snowfalls in memory brought Athens to a standstill, closing the Acropolis, stranding thousands and cancelling a planned national political ceremony more . .  

In mid-February, an area south of Nashville, Tennessee was hit with an 11-inch snowstorm that closed roads and downed powerlines more. . .  In Indonesia, a succession of heavy rains and stagnant pools of water fueled an outbreak of dengue fever that infected more than 8,000 people and claimed more than 160 lives more . . .  As cold Antarctic air clashed with a warm, moist front, New Zealand suffered its most violent rainstorms in 40 years leaving some $70 million in damages more. . .  In the southern African country of Swaziland, officials declared a drought disaster after three years of drought drove widespread food shortages which have also contributed to the spread of AIDs in malnourished victims more . . . In west Texas, two people were killed and traffic was snarled for miles as 60 mile-per-hour winds covered the region with thick brown dust more . . .  In the martime provinces of Canada, schools were closed, businesses shut down, flights were canceled and much of the region was trapped in a whiteout when a severe blizzard with  60 mile-an-hour winds dropped 26 inches of snow on the region more . . .  In mid-February, southern California received one and a half inches of rain in one day, triggering mudslides and clogging highways with accidents more . . .  Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency as an unusual storm dumped 13 inches of snow in parts of the state, closing schools and leaving roads impassable more . . .  A severe storm in northern California, with hurricane force winds, destroyed power lines, leaving more than a quarter of a million people without electricity more. . . At the end of February parts of North and South Carolina were buried up by to 18 inches of snow. The 15 inches that fell on Charlotte more than doubled an old record set in 1926 more . . . 

In early March, intense storms, with winds up to 80 miles-per-hour, dropped up to three inches of rain in parts of Texas and Oklahoma, overturning mobile homes, ripping roofs of buildings and leaving three people dead more . . .  Floods, snowstorms, avalanches and windstorms left 11 people dead as Turkey was gripped by a wave of severe weather in early March more . . .  By mid-March, parts of Montana were buried by the heaviest snow accumulations in 100 years, where extreme conditions include hot summers, spring floods and decade-long droughts more . . .  In Kazakhstan, rising temperatures and intense rains triggered fatal mudslides which killed 17 people more . . .  Punctuating a prolonged drought in eastern Australia, heavy rains gave way to a bumper crop of locusts which ravaged crops in agricultural areas more . . .  In Beijing, a five-year drought which has depleted water supplies forced authorities to cancel aquatic recreation activities and impose cutbacks on textile and paper factories more . . . 

In Brazil, authorities posted alerts as the country was threatened by the first hurricane in history ever to appear in the south Atlantic. Said one meteorologist: "There are problems that happen when hurricanes occur in areas that we've never seen before."  more . . .  But several Brazilian meteorologists disputed that finding, saying the storm, while powerful, was not a hurricane more . . .  In northern Wisconsin, as warm rain and deep snow melted over frozen soil, parts of Wisconsin experienced the worst flooding in 40 years more . . .  The Boston area tried to bail out after a slow-moving storm dumped 8 inches of rain on the area in two days more. . .  while, in the Southeastern US, officials worried the record dry conditions from November through March would lead to serious crop failures later in the summer more . . .  In northern Mexico, torrential rains swelled a tributary of the Rio Grande by some 25 feet as hundreds were driven from their homes and at least 36 killed more . . .  while in Peru, torrential rans triggered mudslides which killed six people and trapped hundreds of tourists visiting the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu more . . .

By mid-April, much of the Western U.S. was bracing for the sixth consecutive year of drought, with low snowpacks threatening water supplies and large areas vulnerable to summer wildfires more . . .  In Bangladesh, a strong tornado flattened villages, uprooted trees, killed 55 people and injured some 5,000 others more. . .  While in Queensland, Australia, officials braced for a swarm of some five million locusts in the wake of intense, drought-shattering rains more . . .   In Djibouti,  torrential rains killed more than 50 people and washed out a neighborhood housing some 400,000 people more . . . Officials at NASA warned of increasing drought throughout the western U.S., noting two counties in Idaho had been declared drought disaster areas -- while the same dryness affected the Southeastern U.S. which suffered its driest March in 100 years more . . .  In late April, a record heat wave settled on much of California, with temperatures eclipsing records in Los Angeles, Santa Maria and San Francisco more . . .  The following day  severe windstorms left some 200,000 homes in western Washington State without power, including a rare tornado which struck just near the Canadian border more . . . 

In the western U.S., temperatures are warmer, the snowpack is dwindling and melting earlier, flowers bloom earlier, mountain glaciers are disappearing and a six-year drought is killing trees by the millions more . . .  In mid May, a three-day series of intense rainstorms and tornadoes raked the Midwestern U.S., destroyed a small town in Iowa and left hundreds of thousands of people without power from Nebraska through Ohio more . . .  On the Caribbean island of Hispanola, torrential downpours swelled rivers, triggered mudslides and left as many as 3,300 people dead -- 700 in the Dominican Republic and another 2,600 in Haiti where one town was buried under 25 feet of water after it received more than 5 feet of rain in 36 hours  more. . .  Near the end of May, a cyclone packing winds of 105 miles per hour swept through western Myanmar, leaving 18,000 people homeless and killing at least 140 more . . .  Meanwhile, in the Midwestern U.S., another string of tornadoes over Memorial Day Weekend from Nebraska to Kentucky closed airports, destroyed homes and left at least nine people dead.  ABC News reported that the 520 tornadoes, which battered areas from Nebraska to the Tennessee Valley, set a new one-month record for U.S. tornadoes more . . .

At the beginning of June, thunderstorms packing 80-mile-per-hour winds rocked Dallas, dropping tennis-ball sized hailstones and cutting power to more than 500,000 people more. . .  In early June, officials announced that Colorado's snow pack had "melted out" during the hot, dry spring, endangering many of the state's water supplies more . . .  In mid-June, Sioux Falls, South Dakota was inundated when the city received eight inches of rain in two hours more . . .

Scientists at the US Geological Survey announced in June that the prolonged drought in the western U.S. had surpassed the "dust bowl" drought of the 1930s in terms of severity -- and could be the worst U.S. drought in 500 years. The drought has brought the flow-rate of the Colorado River to just over half of what it was during the "dust bowl" more . . .  In mid-June, NOAA  announced that spring 2004 was the third warmest spring in U.S. history more . . .  In late June, the Pacific island of Guam sought assistance from federal officials when a typhoon dumped more than 16 inches of rain on the island in 24 hours more . . .

Extreme Weather Profile: July - December, 2004