An Extreme 2011... a list of extreme weather events...
In the U.S., in the first five months of 2011 there have been over 1400 tornadoes, not too unusual. But what is scary, is that there have been five extreme EF-5 tornadoes confirmed so far this year -- 1 in Missouri, 1 in Mississippi, 1 in Oklahoma, 1 in Alabama/Tennessee, 1 in Mississippi/Alabama. An EF-5 has winds greater than 210 mph. As reference, the last recorded EF-5 was in Canada in 2007, and prior to that the last was in Oklahoma in 1999. Since 1950 in the United States, only 52 tornadoes (0.1% of all reports) have been designated EF5. Average annual U.S. deaths from tornadoes are 70 -- in 2011, 523 people have been killed so far.
Even Oregon and Massachusetts have experienced damaging tornadoes.
According to NOAA, tornadoes can be up to one mile wide and stay on the ground for over 50 miles. The average forward speed is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph. Tornadoes may be transparent until dust is picked up within it or a cloud forms in the funnel. See: www.noaawatch.gov
Mississippi River -- is experiencing record-breaking floods. It has been the wettest April on record for several states in the Ohio River valley.
Missouri River -- South Dakota residents have been told evacuation could last 2 months. Heavy rains in the northern U.S. states and a deep melting snowpack have led to historic water levels.
Northeast U.S. -- Lake Champlain set record high water levels this spring and spilled its banks. Vermont again saw record flooding after hurricane Irene in August. New Jersey's August rainfall was 16.5 inches, the rainiest month ever recorded in the state.
Australia –- Three-quarters of the state of Queensland was declared a disaster zone due to flooding. Dec 2010-Jan 2011. Much of Australia has had record breaking rain this year, ending the drought over the East Coast of Australia which had been in place for nearly 10 years.
Sri Lanka -- In January more than one million people had their homes flooded or washed away.
Brazil Mudslides in Jan 2011 -- over 900 die north of Rio. Floods in Colombia reached their peak in late April, killing 116 and causing $5.85 billion in damage.
Pakistan -- July to September, 2010 and again Aug 12 to Sept 30, 2011. Floods followed extreme monsoon rainfall. Up to one-quarter of the country was flooded, affecting about 20 million people.
Thailand -- Flooding began around July 2011, and continued into December 2011. Over 13 million people were affected, and the World Bank estimated damages reached $45 billion as of December, 2011 (18% of the nation's GDP).
U.S. -- Texas is experiencing its worst one-year drought ever recorded (record keeping began in 1895). 85% of Oklahoma is suffering as well, and one quarter of New Mexico is currently classified under exceptional drought. South Florida's Broward and southern Palm Beach counties were rated D4 (the highest rating), the "exceptional drought" stage, earlier in the summer. 2011 was a LaNina year, which often brings dry conditions to the southern plains.
China, 2011 -- the Yangtze delta is experiencing the worst drought in over a 100 years. Shanghai is suffering its worst drought in 138 years. Hunan is seeing its worst drought since 1910.
Europe* had its driest March to May recorded in more than 50 years. *Especially hard hit are the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and areas of Spain.
Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti are experiencing the driest years since the early 1950s. High food prices and the drought are threatening the lives of millions of children.
Amazon -- the 2010 drought was the worst on record. The river levels in the Amazon and its tributaries were the lowest on record.
Russia experienced a long term record heat wave and drought from July to September, 2010.
Over 6 million acres burned in the southwest U.S. in the first 6 months of 2011, that is the largest acreage burned since records began in 2000. The Wallow fire in Northern Arizona burned over 1/2 a million acres, the largest fire in Arizona history. www.ncdc.noaa.gov
Texas has just experienced its worst wildfire season in state history. In one week, one million acres burned.
Saskatchewan wildfires have been exacerbated by dry conditions and high winds.
NASA research shows 2010 was tied with 2005 for warmest year on record. Temperature records were set in 19 countries, covering a fifth of the world’s land area.
Texas and the southern plains states have broken numerous records as to 100 degree days in 2011. Witchita Falls, Texas had 52 consecutive 100 degree days - 92 total so far this year.^ In July, Oklahoma's state wide average temperature set a record for hottest month ever in any state. On July 11, Fairbanks, Alaska, hit 97 degrees, a record. Across the U.S. there have been unprecedented record-high nighttime temperatures. ^*
The Coastal West Coast of the U.S. is now in the seventh year of a below-normal temperature pattern.
France's March to May was the warmest since 1900.
England -- This past spring had the highest temperatures since 1910 -- an average of 9.2C (48.6F). Central England experienced an average temperature of 10.3C (50.5F), the highest since monthly records began in 1659.
Moscow saw temperatures above 100 degrees for the first time ever last summer. Record high temperatures were experienced between July and September throughout most of the country. Over 56,000 people died due to the heat and air pollution.
Pakistan recorded the hottest reliably measured temperature in Asia -- 53.5°C or 128.3°F in the town of MohenjuDaro in May, 2010.
Other Atmospheric Events:
Hailstorm – Guangdong Province, China, April 18, 2011, twelve people were killed and 27 others injured. On August 1st, 2011 baseball-sized hail caused significant damage on Long Island in NY.^
Hurricanes: The six-month Atlantic hurricane season started June 1, 2011, and meteorologists are expecting an active season. Irene which hit the NE coast of the U.S. on August 27th and 28th caused billions of dollars in damages.
Snowfall: Record snowfall across the U.S. winter season 2010/2011, all 50 states saw snow. Snow and sleet were reported as far south as Tampa, Florida.
In 2011, in the U.S. alone, there have been more than 700 disaster and weather deaths, most from the tornado outbreaks of the spring. In 2011, so far, the U.S. has had a record 10 weather catastrophes costing more than a billion dollars each.
Climate Change is Now:
Highly reliable global temperature measurements show the planet is warming and the water cycle (hydrological cycle) is becoming more active; creating higher rates of evaporation and precipitation. Droughts and floods are the natural consequences of warmer temperatures: droughts because it’s hotter, floods because warmer seas release more water vapor. Greater temperature differentials cause stronger winds which can invigorate storms and fires.
The weather on the planet is influenced by many factors. A strong La Niña occurred this past winter into early spring, but has since weakened. Research shows that La Niña years create drier air across Texas and New Mexico. But this year's La Niña threw off weather patterns worldwide, and climate scientists believe that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation maybe changing behavior in response to changing air and water temperatures. See climatecentral.org
As industry continues to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and as population increases, it is highly likely world weather events will continue on a course of destruction, as 100 year events will certainly happen more frequently. World food prices have also seen recent highs as food production is greatly affected by temperatures, flooding and drought. Will we attempt prevention, or will we continue to just pick up the pieces.
April 2011 Tornadoes: Satellite Shows a record 625 Twisters
This animation shows the GOES-East infrared imagery from April 1-30, along with the locations of each tornado that formed during the time (symbolized as red dots).
Add 2011 and the graph is definitely taking an upward path.
Op-ed by Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org, narrated and illustrated by Stephen Thomson of Plomomedia.com
Since the late 1970s, the use of CFCs has been regulated, but still not eliminated.
Via: Jeff Masters