Extreme Weather & Climate Events 2012

Over the past several months, extreme events in the form of heat waves, droughts, fires, and flooding have seemed to become the norm rather than the exception. In the past half-year alone, millions of people have been affected across the globe – from Europe suffering from the worst cold snap in a quarter century; to extreme flooding in Australia, Brazil, China, and the Philippines; to drought in the Sahel. Records have been broken monthly in the continental United States, with the warmest spring and 12-month period experienced this year and severe fires and drought affecting large swaths of the country.;xNLx;;xNLx;The World Resources Institute put together a timeline of extreme climate and weather events in 2012. We have by no means attempted to be comprehensive in listing events, but have aimed to include some of the most significant occurrences this year. ;xNLx;;xNLx;TO ACCESS EMBED CODE: http://multimedia.wri.org/extreme_weather_timeline.txt;xNLx;

2012-01-05 10:02:12

Flooding, Landslides Hit Southeastern Brazil

Heavy rains, flooding, and landslides in southeastern Brazil cause 13,000 residents to flee homes, while a burst dam requires the evacuation of several thousands. Officials estimate that the rainy season adversely affects two million people.

2012-01-05 10:02:12

50 Major Wildfires Burn in Chile

Fueled by intense heat, dryness, and high winds, 50 major wildfires burn in the central and southern regions of Chile, causing thousands to evacuate, creating millions of dollars in damages, and destroying hundreds of homes.

2012-02-01 20:30:39

Europe's Worst Cold Snap in a Quarter Century

The cold lasts for three weeks and is accompanied by heavy snowfall. More than 650 lives are lost as a result, with the majority of deaths occurring in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland.

2012-02-02 05:53:09

4th Warmest Winter in the continental U.S.

Continental United States experiences its fourth warmest winter on record (Dec. 2011-Feb. 2012). Temperatures were almost 4 degrees F above the 20th-century average. The winter was not only warm, but drier than average, especially in the West and Southwest.

2012-02-04 20:30:39

Massive Flooding in Australia

Record-breaking flooding in southwestern Queensland and northern New South Wales leads to the isolation of entire towns and the abandonment of thousands of homes.

2012-02-15 20:30:39

Devastating Drought in Sahel

In February, UN World Food Programme Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, estimates that 10 million people, including more than one million children, in the Sahel are at risk of food insecurity due to drought.

2012-03-01 15:10:18

Warmest March on Record in Continental U.S.

Daily temperature records were hit in every state. The average temperature for the month is 8.6 degrees F higher than the 20th-century average. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports, "Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012." Plus, every state experiences a record-breaking daily temperature this month.

2012-03-01 20:30:39

IPCC Report Links Climate and Extreme Events

The report, written by 220 experts from 62 countries, finds that climate change has already contributed to changes in extreme events--such as heat waves, high temperatures, and heavy precipitation--in many regions over the past 50 years.

2012-03-07 12:10:18

Heavy Rains Spur Emergency Action

The Red Cross activates its emergency plan due to heavy rains. The rains affect nearly 12,000 families and wreak havoc on homes.

2012-03-08 10:36:01

Warm, Dry Conditions Lead to Early Wildfires

Warmer-than-average temperatures combined with dryness and lack of snowpack create conditions for grasses to grow and dry out, presenting fuel for fires. The wildfire season starts early, and across the central United States, homes and thousands of acres are destroyed.

2012-03-25 18:11:35

Study Connects Extreme Events and Climate cHANGE

Scientists Dim Coumou and Stefan Rahmstorf publish an article in "Nature Climate Change," finding "strong evidence" that links heat waves and precipitation extremes to human-induced warming.

2012-04-01 20:10:59

Severe Drought Affects U.S. South and Southwest

Roughly 38 percent of the continental United States experiences moderate to exceptional drought, while 19 percent experiences severe to exceptional drought.

2012-04-01 20:10:59

Warmest 12-month period (May 2011 - April 2012) for continental U.S.

April 2012 is also the third-warmest April on record.

2012-05-01 10:02:12

Flooding affects more than 11,000 Rwandans

The floods inundate nearly 1,000 hectares of crops, threatening food security. Water supplies are contaminated and vital infrastructure such as schools, medical clinics and roads are adversely affected. More than 2,000 households are impacted.

2012-05-01 12:10:18

Warmest Spring on Record in Continental U.S.

Not only is this spring the warmest on record, but it is the largest departure from average temperatures of any season on record for the continental U.S. - more than 5 degrees F above the long-term average.

2012-05-01 12:10:18

Warmest 12-month period (June 2011 - May 2012) for the continental U.S.

This period was 3 degrees F higher than the long-term record. All states but one (Washington) across the continental U.S. witness a warmer-than-average 12-month period.

2012-05-13 17:56:54

Worst Drought in Northeast Brazil in 50 Years

The severe drought impacted more than 1,100 towns. "Water wars" ensued, leading to one death each day on average, as well as livestock losses.

2012-06-01 17:07:52

Warmest 12-month period (July 2011 - June 2012) for the continental US

The "unparalleled heat" is accompanied by large swaths of the U.S. falling into drought.

2012-06-09 12:10:18

Wildfires Spread Across More than 1 Million Acres

Drought, unparalleled heat, and low snowpack create conditions for wildfires to spread across 1.36 million acres of the United States. By the end of the month, 57 large wildfires are burning across 15 states. Colorado is hit especially hard with the Waldo Canyon Fire, the most destructive wildfire in the state's record. About 165,000 acres and 700 homes are burned by Coloradan wildfires.

2012-06-12 17:34:24

Torrential Rains in China

Almost five million people are evacuated due to the rains and flooding. The floods lead to estimated losses of US$2 billion and 67 deaths. In one city, the extreme precipitation results in an avalanche, burying 10 miners. By mid-June, flooding and hail damage affect 123,500 acres of farmland, while hundreds of thousands of people face drinking water shortages.

2012-06-29 16:44:35

Drought Covers More than Half the Continental U.S.

More than 56 percent of the continental U.S. is encompassed by drought, the largest percentage of the nation experiencing drought since record-keeping began 12 years ago.

2012-06-29 16:44:35

Derecho Storm Sweeps from Chicago to D.C.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) notes, "Derechos favor the months of May, June, and July, when rain-cooled downdrafts can slam into extremely warm, moist air. That was certainly the case this time, as much of the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic were experiencing one of the hottest early-summer days in their weather history."

2012-06-29 17:07:52

Washington, D.C. has hottest day in 142 years

The temperature at Reagan National Airport hits 104°F, exceeding the previous record of 102°F, which was reached in 2011. Twenty-eight states east of the Rockies experience record warmth this month.

2012-07-01 16:44:35

Warmest 12-month period (August 2011 - July 2012) for the continental US. Hottest July on record in U.S.

July was not only the hottest July on record, but the hottest month for the nation since record-keeping began in 1895. Every state but Washington experiences warmer-than-average temperatures.

2012-07-01 16:44:35

63% of continental U.S. affected by drought

The Primary Corn and Soybean Agricultural Belt experiences its sixth-driest growing season since 1895.

2012-07-01 16:44:35

U.S. Climate Extremes Index doubles for Jan - Jul 2012

The U.S. Climate Extremes Index is an index that keeps note of high and low extremes, including temperature, precipitation, and cyclones. Year-to-date daytime and nighttime temperature extremes were experienced over a record amount of the country.

2012-07-16 10:27:26

Report Links Individual Extreme Events to Climate

Scientists from NOAA, the UK's Met Office, and other institutions find, for example, that the conditions that led to the 2011 Texas drought are 20 times more likely to occur now than in the 1960s as a result of increases in greenhouse gas concentrations and associated climatic changes.

2012-07-21 10:27:26

Worst Flooding in 60 Years Near Beijing

More than half a foot (6.7 inches) of rain falls within 16 hours near Beijing, leading to at least 77 deaths. About 700,000 Beijing residents are evacuated and 500 flights are canceled. In late July, heavy rains come again, with 7.8 inches falling in the course of three hours, leading to another 18 deaths.

2012-07-31 16:44:35

50% of U.S. Counties Named as Disaster Areas

Half of America's counties are designated as disaster areas, largely due to drought. By the end of the month, 37 percent of soybeans, 48 percent of corn, and 57 percent of pasture and rangeland are rated in very poor or poor condition. Crops and cattle are devastated by drought conditions. Sixty-six and 73 percent of hay and cattle acreage, respectively, experience drought. Over this crop year, USDA designates as disaster areas 1,628 counties in more than 30 states, more than 90 percent of which are due to drought. The USDA opens up almost 4 million acres of conservation land for grazing and hay.

2012-08-01 10:27:26

Rains and Flooding Submerge 50% of Manila

Two weeks' worth of rain falls in the course of one day, submerging half of the city. Almost one million people are affected, while 11 lose their lives.

2012-08-03 10:27:26

Hansen Links Climate Change to Recent Heat

NASA GISS Director, James Hansen, publishes an op-ed in the Washington Post that states "for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change." Hansen and colleagues find that extreme summer heat waves are much more likely today, due to human-induced climate change, than mid-20th century.

2012-08-08 12:44:35

Typhoons Sweep Through China

The typhoons, which impact China's eastern coast, lead to 60,000 homes damaged or destroyed, at least 23 deaths, and force hundreds of thousands to relocate.

2012-08-09 10:27:26

Flash Floods and Landslides Hit Bangladesh

The flash floods and landslides take 130 lives in Bangladesh and affect almost one million people. Crops are also swept away, which the Red Cross reports will lead to long-term food shortages and dependence upon relief.

2012-08-15 16:44:35

USDA provides more drought assistance to farmers

The USDA continues to provide assistance to farmers to contend with drought. By mid-August, USDA has labeled almost 1,800 counties as disaster areas, with 1,670 earning the designation due to drought. The Administration promises to buy up to US$170 million in meat to assist livestock producers.

2012-08-22 16:44:35

CDC acts to control outbreak of West Nile virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acts to control outbreak of West Nile virus, which is one of largest outbreaks in U.S. history. By the third week of August, 47 states report West Nile virus, with 1,118 cases in humans leading to 41 deaths.

2012-08-30 17:07:52

Hurricane Isaac sets record daily maximum rainfall in New Orleans

Hurricane Isaac hits Gulf Coast of U.S., seven years after Hurricane Katrina. While Isaac was a Category 1 hurricane, storm surges reach up to 12 feet in Louisiana, which NASA reports as “quite substantial for a ‘mere’ Category 1 storm.” Isaac also sets a record rainfall (7.86 inches) in New Orleans, with the previous record being 4.5 inches, set during Katrina.

2012-09-15 12:00:00

3rd Warmest Summer on Record for Lower 48 States

NOAA declares the summer of 2012 to be the third-hottest summer on record in the contiguous United States, falling only behind the record summers of 2011 and 1936. The national temperature average reaches 74.4°F, 2.3°F above the 20th-century average. The period from January –August was also the warmest first eight months of any year for the lower 48 states since record keeping began in 1895.

2012-09-16 10:02:12

Arctic Sea Ice at Record Low

The extent of Arctic sea ice reaches the lowest seasonal minimum since satellite records began in 1979, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA. The extend of Arctic ice shrinks to 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles), setting 2012 as a record year for both the lowest daily minimum extent of ice and the lowest monthly average of ice cover. 2012’s minimum ice cover is 18 percent below the previous record set in 2007 and 49 percent below the 1979-2000 average. Summer sea ice extent is important because, among other things, it reflects sunlight, keeping the Arctic region cool and moderating global climate.

2012-10-01 10:02:12

3 Super Typhoons Strike the Western Pacific

Super-Typhoon Jelawat becomes the third consecutive Western Pacific cyclone to reach super-typhoon status this year, after Bolaven in August and Sanba in September. "Super typhoon" is a term for a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of at least 150 miles per hour, the equivalent of a strong Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. All three storms made landfall over Japan and affected the Korean Peninsula with heavy rain and floods. The Western Pacific hasn’t seen three consecutive super typhoons since 1997; it also occurred in 1954, 1957, 1958, and 1963.

2012-10-13 12:00:00

Hurricane Hits Mexico's Baja Peninsula

Hurricane Paul lands on the Baja peninsula, damaging roughly 1,000 homes. Floods and power losses affect almost 16,000 people.

2012-10-18 12:00:00

Dust Storm Spans Several U.S. States

Exceptional drought in the United States, combined with strong winds, results in a dust storm across several states throughout the Great Plains.

2012-10-18 12:00:00

Record Low Precipitation in Southern Australia

Southern Australia sees its lowest average rainfall since record-keeping began in 1900.

2012-10-27 10:02:12

Nigeria Floods Overwhelm Rivers

Unusually heavy rains from July through October result in flash floods throughout Nigeria, culminating in the worst floods in decades. Nigeria’s two biggest rivers, the Niger and the Benue, overflow, washing away farms and food stores. The flooding, which lasted from July to October 31, kills 363 people, displaces 2.2 million, and affects almost 8 million people, according to Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. The floods also cause a 0.9 percent increase in prices nationwide and noticeably increased inflation in Africa’s second-largest economy.

2012-10-29 12:00:00

Hurricane Sandy Hits U.S. and Caribbean

At the time of U.S. landfall, Hurricane Sandy extended about 1,000 miles wide, bringing 90 mph-winds and massive flooding to the Atlantic coast. At the southern tip of Manhattan, Sandy’s nine-foot storm surge combined with high tides caused unprecedented water levels of up to 13.88 feet. As of November 2nd, 69 people in the Caribbean and 96 people in the United States had lost their lives due to Sandy. More than 8 million people in the United States lost power. Hurricane Sandy packed more total energy at landfall than even Hurricane Katrina, mainly due to its large size. Experts estimate Sandy’s damages in the United States may cost up to $50 billion.

2012-10-31 12:00:00

January-October Period Warmest on Record

NOAA declares January-October 2012 to be the warmest period on record for the contiguous United States.

2012-11-07 12:00:00

Heatwave Causes Massive Power Loss

A heatwave in Buenos Aires leads residents to demand so much energy that two high-voltage lines fail, leaving more than one million homes without power.

2012-11-24 12:00:00

Exceptional Heat Covers Large Swaths of Australia

A heatwave hits eastern Australia, while central and southeastern Australia experience exceptional spring heat.

2012-11-26 12:00:00

UK Floods Cost 4 Lives, Billions of Dollars

Unusually heavy rainfall results in widespread flooding this year in the U.K., culminating in destructive November floods that kill four people and, according to one estimate, drive total flood losses for 2012 up to £1.33 billion (US $2.2 billion). The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology reports that heavy rain in 2012 resulted in the wettest April-September period in the U.K.’s history. This flooding occurred on the heels of extensive drought and water shortages, marking an unprecedented shift in extreme weather for the U.K. A January report from Defra, the national environmental agency, identified flooding as the U.K.’s greatest threat from climate change, with 3.6 million people at risk by 2050.

2012-11-28 12:00:00

New Study: Sea Levels Rising Faster than Expected

Sea-level rise is occurring up to 60 percent faster than expected, according to a new study published in Environmental Research Letters. Researchers used satellite data to identify a sea-level rise of 3.2mm a year, significantly higher than the 2mm per year rise projected by models used in the 2007 Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These new estimates suggest that the threat to coastal cities from climate change is greater than previously thought, as the growing incidence of coastal flooding and damaging storm surge has been linked to rising global sea levels.

2012-11-30 12:00:00

Second-Warmest September-November Period on Record

According to average combined global land and ocean surface temperatures, the period from September-November is the second-warmest after 2005 since record-keeping began in 1880, leading to temperatures 1.21°F above the 20th-century average. During this period, the Southern Hemisphere witnesses record-high land temperatures.

Extreme Weather & Climate Events 2012

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