Weather Extremes

Severe Flooding in Alaska’s Denali National Park

By: weatherhistorian, 6:43 PM GMT on June 27, 2014

Severe Flooding in Alaska’s Denali National Park

Severe flooding has affected portions of Denali National Park and Preserve in interior Alaska. A large area of rain impacted most of mainland and southeast Alaska on Wednesday and Thursday June 25-26 with some historical accumulations. This is a guest blog courtesy of Brian Brettschneider of Borealis Scientific, LLC in Anchorage, Alaska.

The three most prominent NWS stations in Alaska (Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks) all received greater than 3/4” precipitation for the first time on record for a same single day of the year. The highest intensity precipitation occurred over the 6,000,000-acre Denali National Park and Preserve. Many areas in the Park saw between 2.00” and 3.00” of rainfall. The table below shows maximum 24-hour precipitation totals. All of these stations are part of the Remote Automatic Weather Stations (RAWS) network (with the exception of the Kantishna site).



Maximum 24-hour precipitation totals in and around Denali National Park and Preserve obtained from the University of Utah Mesowest site and the Fairbanks Newsminer.

According to the Fairbanks Newsminer, the Denali Park Road (the only road that traverses the Park) is impassable with water and debris along several portions between the Eielson Visitor’s Center and Kantishna. The Alaska Dispatch has reported that water was crossing the road in three places and that significant debris was flowing over the road. Over 100 staff and guests at several lodges between Wonder Lake and Kantishna are stranded and can only be evacuated by helicopter due to water covering the airstrip in Kantishna. A photo near a flooded lodge taken near Kantishna, Alaska, at the end of the Denali Park Road, is shown below.



Flooding near Kantishna on June 26th. Image credit: Christina Blakey, AP

While the precipitation totals in the table above would not be all that impressive for most places in the U.S., they are highly anomalous for interior Alaska. Many of the 24-hour rainfall totals are greater than the 10-year recurrence interval and in some case approach the 25-year recurrence interval according to the NOAA Precipitation Frequency Atlas for Alaska (e.g., the 24-hour total at Wonder Lake is slightly less than the 25-year recurrence interval). The map below shows the location of each station listed in the precipitation table, along with the location of the Park Road and the location where the road is flooded and covered with debris.



Maximum 24-hour precipitation totals for all stations in, and near, Denali National Park and Preserve on June 25 and June 26, 2014. Map credit: Brian Brettschneider.

The map above shows the greatest single 24-hour precipitation total. Eight stations reported more than 1.50” in 24 hours, four reported more than 2.00”, and Wonder Lake reported 3.29”. In some cases, slightly more rain fell over a period of time greater than 24 hours but in most instances the heavy rain occurred did, in fact, fall within a 24-hour period.

All of the major rivers throughout the Park originate in the glaciers of the Alaska Range. They typically are braided channels with very wide floodplains to accommodate massive amounts of spring and summer snowmelt and summer glacial melt. The photos below show the Toklat River after the recent heavy rains compared to normal flow conditions. Notice the wide, shallow valley with multiple braided channels. Even after this recent significant precipitation event, the channel easily contains the runoff.



Toklat River in Denali National Park and Preserve. The photo orientations are slightly different. Upper photo image credit: Daniel A. Leifheit via National Park Service. Lower panel photo credit: Brian Brettschneider.

It appears that the rivers causing the most problems during this event are not the large ones like the Toklat River or the McKinley River, but some of the smaller tributary rivers whose flow is largely influenced by spring snowmelt and summer rain. These channels are much more V-shaped and respond more quickly to high rates of precipitation.

None of the streams or rivers within the Park is gauged by the Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center or any other river monitoring organization, so only a post-storm analysis will reveal how much water actually flowed through these channels. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported as a result of the storm so far in the Park (as of this writing on the morning of June 27th). Nevertheless, many tourists travel from far and wide to visit Denali NP (at great expense) and their once-in-a-lifetime trip has been significantly impacted.

At least they will leave Alaska with an exciting story to relate!

KUDOS: Dr. Brian Brettschneider, Climate Scientist, Borealis Scientific, LLC, Anchorage, Alaska for this blog.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Flood

Updated: 7:45 PM GMT on June 27, 2014

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All-time June 24-hour Precipitation Record Broken in Savannah, Georgia

By: weatherhistorian, 7:08 PM GMT on June 24, 2014

UPDATE June 25: All-time June 24-hour Precipitation Record Broken in Savannah, Minneapolis, Sioux City, and Omaha this June

An intense cluster of thunderstorms dropped 6.65” of rainfall in about a four-hour period on Monday afternoon and evening at Savannah’s International Airport. This is a new calendar day record for the month of June in Savannah. Radar estimated rainfall reached 10.45” in some areas of the Savannah metro region.

The previous June monthly record was 6.60” on June 29, 1999 and the daily record of 3.29”, set in 1884, was smashed. Official precipitation records for Savannah began in 1871, although monthly measurements exist for the years of 1840-1859 as well (before resuming for good in 1871). Savannah’s average June monthly precipitation is 5.95”.

The top five wettest June days for Savannah are now as follows:

1. 6.65” June 23, 2014
2. 6.60” June 29, 1999
3. 5.45” June 27, 1887
4. 5.07” June 29, 1907
5. 5.05” June 12, 1947

The city’s all-time calendar day rainfall (for any month) was 9.79” on October 19, 1944 and its 24-hour record 11.44” on September 17-18, 1928 (this latter figure from a site that existed prior to the current airport location where records began in 1937).

Despite the intense rainfall, flooding was minimal in the area with just some parking lots submerged and backyards under water for a brief time.



The thunderstorms that brought record-breaking rainfall to the Savannah area on Monday (June 23rd) also spawned this waterspout at nearby Tybee Island. Photo by John Persse.


Meanwhile in Sioux Falls, Sioux City, Omaha, and Minneapolis...

The rain continued to accumulate in portions of Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota this past week. Sioux Falls, South Dakota improved upon its moniker of ‘wettest month on record’ with a June total of 13.44” as of June 23rd (+10.40” above normal for the month to date). This has obliterated their previous wettest month of 9.42” set back in May 1898 (by an extraordinary 43%!). The figure of 13.44” is also close to what Sioux Falls would normally receive for the entire year-to-date as of June 23rd. It is also considerably more than what fell during the city’s driest year on record: 10.44” in all of 1894.

Sioux City, Iowa has also surpassed its former all-time wettest month (any month) on record with 13.25” as of June 23rd (+10.23” above normal for the month to date). The previous monthly record for the city was 11.78” in May 1903. On June 14th, Sioux City picked up 5.05” of rainfall, its 2nd heaviest calendar day rainfall on record and just short of its all-time 24-hour record (for any month) of 5.50” set on July 17, 1972. The 5.05” was also a new June monthly calendar day record. Over the three-day period of June 14-16, 8.27” of rain fell.

Precipitation records date back to 1889 in Sioux City and 1893 in Sioux Falls.



Departure from normal precipitation (in inches) for the contiguous U.S. June 1-23. Note the large area of 6”+ across Minnesota, Iowa, southeastern South Dakota, and northeastern Nebraska with 10”+ in some isolated places, including Sioux Falls and Sioux City. Map from High Plains Regional Climate Center.

And this from NWS-Omaha, Nebraska: An old report from earlier this month concerning a new June monthly calendar day record rainfall. The resulting flash flood caused one fatality.

RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OMAHA/VALLEY NE
144 AM CDT WED JUN 4 2014

...RECORD RAINFALL AMOUNT AT OMAHA EPPLEY AIRFIELD IN OMAHA
NEBRASKA...

A RECORD DIALY RAINFALL AMOUNT OF 5.30 INCHES WAS SET AT OMAHA
EPPLEY AIRFIELD YESTERDAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD AMOUNT OF
1.85 INCHES FROM 1890.

IT ALSO BREAKS THE MONTHLY RECORD OF RAINFALL FOR ANY DAY IN JUNE
FOR THE LOCATION. THE PREVIOUS RECORD WAS 5.02 INCHES FROM JUNE 17
1875.

Not to be outdone, Minneapolis, Minnesota also broke their June calendar day precipitation record on June 19th:


RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHANHASSEN MN
0248 AM CDT FRI JUN 20 2014

...RECORD CALENDAR DAY MAXIMUM RAINFALL FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE SET AT
TWIN CITIES MN...

A RECORD RAINFALL IN A CALENDAR DAY FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE OF 4.13
INCHES WAS SET AT THE TWIN CITIES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT YESTERDAY.
THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 3.48 INCHES SET ON JUNE 29TH 1877.

It is also Minneapolis's wettest year-to-date on record as of June 23rd with 25.32" since January 1st, some 12.51" above normal (almost 150% of average). So far Minneapolis has picked up 10.85" this June, not too far from their record June rainfall of 11.67" in June 1874. This is still a long way from Minneapolis's all-time monthly precipitation record of 17.90" in July 1987 (made possible by the incredible 9.90" that fell in 24 hours July 23-24 that month). Precipitation records officially date back to 1871.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Precipitation Records

Updated: 6:14 AM GMT on June 25, 2014

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Rare June Snowfall in Estonia

By: weatherhistorian, 6:29 PM GMT on June 20, 2014

Rare June Snowfall in Estonia

Just weeks following record high temperatures, portions of Estonia, Latvia, and Russia saw a rare June snowfall on June 17th. In the U.S., snow also fell on the same day in the mountains of Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. Some significant accumulations were reported at relatively low elevations as well.

Estonia and Latvia Snow Event

On Tuesday, June 17th, snowfall was observed in portions of central Estonia and Latvia. The fall was brief and accumulations no more than a centimeter or two, but it was the first June snowfall in the country since exactly 32 years ago, when it also snowed on June 17, 1982. The only site that saw the ground briefly whitened was Valke-Maarja at an elevation of only about 100 m (330’) in the central part of the country. Temperatures were above freezing (in the 2°-4°C/35°-40°F) hence the minor accumulations.



Snow falling in Valke-Maarja, Estonia this past Tuesday, June 17th. The snow fell for only about 20-30 minutes but it was enough to whiten the ground as can be seen in the above image. Photo courtesy of Daniele Ingemi.

Other sites in Estonia that saw snowflakes included Lehtse and Kunda. Amazingly, it was at Kunda last May that Estonia observed its all-time national monthly heat record when the temperature soared to 33.1°C (91.6°F) on May 19th. Snow was also reported in parts of neighboring Latvia and in the area around Tver in Russia (about 200 km northwest of Moscow). All of these regions had, up until this week, been experiencing record early summer and late spring heat.

U.S. Snowstorm in the West

Substantial snowfall was reported in the mountains of Utah (Alta saw 9”), Montana (up to 10”), and Wyoming (up to 9”) generally above the 7,000-foot level earlier this week on June 17-18.



A deep fresh snow accumulation (6”) on the ground in the Brighton Ski Resort area of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains on June 18th. Nearby Alta (elevation 8,770’) picked up 9”, its 3rd greatest June snowfall since records began in 1905. In June 1984 Alta saw 25” of snowfall for the month. Photo tweeted to The Weather Channel by ‘EnglandCounsel’.

Although June snowfall in the Rocky Mountains is far from unusual (in fact occurs almost every year above 9,000’) some ‘low’ elevation sites also saw accumulations. Most impressive was the 3.5” reported at Evanston in Wyoming (elevation 6,800’) located in the southwest corner of the state. It was Evanston’s first measureable snowfall in June since 1998 (when 4.5” accumulated). The June record monthly snowfall was 9.0” in 1941. Evanston also had a record low maximum temperature of only 44° on June 17th.

KUDOS: Thanks to Daniele Ingemi for Estonian snow images and Maximiliano Herrera for European snow event information.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Snow

Updated: 6:36 PM GMT on June 20, 2014

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Record Rainfall in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

By: weatherhistorian, 6:34 PM GMT on June 17, 2014

Record Rainfall in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

As Jeff Masters blogged today (June 17th) deadly tornadoes struck Nebraska on Monday June 16th. Tornadoes also were reported in Iowa and Wisconsin. Accompanying the twisters were some phenomenal rainfalls in nearby South Dakota. One site, Canton, reported 8.43” of rainfall in the 24 hours ending at 6 a.m. local time June 17th.



Radar estimated rainfall over southeastern South Dakota (and surrounding region) for the 24-hour period of 9 a.m. June 16 to 9 a.m. June 17. Image from NWS-Sioux Falls.

The 8.43” 24-hour precipitation figure for Canton is just shy of the official South Dakota state record of 8.74” measured at Groton on May 6, 2007. Canton is an official NWS COOP site and much heavier unofficial 24-hour rainfalls have occurred in South Dakota at other locations in the past. Most notably the estimated 15” in about six hours that fell at a site called Nemo along the Box Elder Creek, and 14.5” at Sheridan Lake in the Black Hills on June 9, 1972. This event resulted in the disastrous Black Hills and Rapid City flood that killed 236, the 2nd deadliest flash flood in U.S. history (the Famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of May 31, 1889 being the worst with 2,200 fatalities).

Canton is about 15 miles southeast of Sioux Falls where 3.00” was officially measured at Foss Airfield on June 16th. Of this amount, 0.85” fell in just a five-minute period between 3:05-3:10 p.m. CDT (that’s a rate of 10.2” per hour!). The storm was accompanied by an 87 mph wind gust and hail.



The heavy rainfall over the past three days (June 14-16) has resulted in massive flooding across eastern South Dakota and Iowa. Interstate 29 was forced to close south of Sioux Falls for a good portion of the day on Monday. The photo above is ironically dated June 16, 2011 but shows the same section of I-29 under water during the more widespread regional floods that affected the same area exactly five years ago to the day. Photo from Salvation Army of Siouxland.

The 3.00” in Sioux Falls on June 16th was preceded by 2.74” on June 15th and 1.97” on June 14th, the latter two being daily records. On June 14-15 the city picked up 4.56” in the 24-hour period of 5 a.m., June 14 to 5 a.m., June 15, just shy of the all-time (any month) 24-hour precipitation record of 4.59” set on August 1, 1975. However, the 7.71” from June 14-16 brings the June monthly precipitation total in Sioux Falls to 13.04”. This has crushed the previous all-time monthly record for the city of 9.42” set back in May 1898. Precipitation records for Sioux Falls began in June 1890, although the official POR starts in 1893 (a few days of records are missing from May and June 1891 and also from October 1893).



Climate table for Sioux Falls, South Dakota as of June 16th (an additional .07" fell on June 17-18). Note that five days of the month so far have seen 1.00”+ rainfall accumulations. The average June total precipitation for the site is 3.92” (POR 1981-2010). Table from NWS-Sioux Falls.

What is extraordinary about this month’s record rainfall in Sioux Falls is that there are still 12 days left to the month and yet the previous record has already been surpassed by a margin of 38%, this for a site with 121 years of record!

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Precipitation Records Flood

Updated: 5:49 PM GMT on June 18, 2014

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May 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By: weatherhistorian, 7:34 PM GMT on June 13, 2014

May 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

May featured record heat in portions of China, Japan, Korea, and Eastern Europe. Deadly floods occurred in China and the Baltics. The most intense tropical storm on record for May, Amanda, formed in the Eastern Pacific. The global temperature anomaly rankings for May have yet to be released by NOAA or NASA, but given the unusual warmth (at least over land) I would not be surprised if the month ends up ranking as among the warmest Mays on record.

Below are some of the month’s highlights.

NORTH AMERICA

Drought conditions in California worsened over the course of May following the warmest January-May period on record for the state. In contrast, Michigan and Wisconsin had their 4th coldest such period on record (since 1895). See map below:



The January-May period was the warmest on record (since 1895) for California and the 4th coldest such period for Wisconsin and Michigan. NOAA/NCDC map.

Early season wild fires erupted in the greater Los Angeles, San Diego regions. In Texas, New Mexico, and the Southern Plains heavy rain during the last week of the month alleviated drought conditions. A record early May heat wave briefly occurred in the western Plains with Wichita recording an all-time May monthly record of 102°F (38.9°C) on the 5th. Just days later an unusually intense late spring snowstorm plastered Wyoming and Colorado with over 3 feet (one meter) of snowfall. It was mild in Alaska, its 6th warmest May on record and, for Anchorage, the warmest May on record. Overall, however, precipitation and temperatures averaged fairly close to normal and it was a relatively quiet month tornado-wise. The hottest temperature measured during the month was 115°F (46.1°C) at Death Valley, California on May 18th and the coldest 6°F (-14.4°C) at Climax, Colorado on May 1st and also at Antero Reservoir, Colorado on May 13th (these minimum temperature figures exclude Alaska).





State-by-state ranking of precipitation (top map) and temperature (bottom map) for the contiguous U.S. during May. It was the 32nd warmest May (out 120) and 48th wettest (out of 120). NOAA/NCDC maps.

Of anecdotal interest, a rare heat burst hit Albert Lea, Minnesota on the night of May 7-8th. The temperature spiked from 68°F (20.0°C) to 82°F (27.8°C) in 20 minutes around 1 a.m. on May 8th.



Graphic above courtesy of NWS-Minneapolis.

The first tropical storm of the year to form in the Eastern Pacific, Amanda, also developed into the strongest in modern records (since at least 1966) for the month of May. Amanda deepened to 932 mb with sustained winds of 155 mph at one point on May 25th off the coast of Mexico. The storm never made landfall.

The coldest temperature observed in the northern hemisphere during May was -44.5°C (-48.1°F) at Summit GEO site in Greenland on May 6.

SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA

A rare rainfall occurred in Chile’s Atacama Desert (driest place on Earth) on May 25th. Snow also occurred in higher elevations of the desert such as Calama at 2200 m (7300’).

Although Sao Paulo, Brazil saw some welcome rainfall (and an intense hailstorm in parts of the city) the drought situation worsened during May threatening the city’s water supply.

EUROPE

The two big European weather stories of the month were the floods in the Balkan nations of Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia and the unprecedented heat wave that affected Finland, Estonia, and Russia. Details about both events may be found in my blog of May 20th. Perhaps the most impressive figures from the heat wave of May 19-21 was the new all-time national heat record set in Estonia (33.1°C/91.6°F at Kunda on May 19th) and at St. Petersburg, Russia with 33.0°C (91.4°F) also on May 19th. Records in St. Petersburg date back to 1881 and the previous May record was just 30.9°C (87.6°F) set in 1958.



An intense hailstorm pounded Bucharest, Romania on May 4th causing some damage and washing into deep drifts on some city streets. Photographer not identified.

In the U.K. it was generally warmer and wetter than average and unusually cloudy. As the Met Office put it “it was the dullest(cloudiest) May for the U.K. since 1991” with just 82% of normal sunshine hours. The warmest temperature measured was 26.3°C (79.3°F) at Heathrow Airport (London) on May 19th and the coldest -5.0°C (23.0°F) at Cromdale, Moray on May 2nd. The heaviest 24-hour precipitation event netted 57.4 mm (2.26”) at Capel Curig, Conwy on May 10-11.

AFRICA

Gambia tied its all-time national heat record (for any month) on May 4th when the temperature rose to 45.5°C (113.9°F) at Kaur, the other occasion being observed at Basse Santa Su also on May 4th but in 2008.

The hottest temperature measured in the southern hemisphere was a 38.3°C (100.9°F) reading at Augrabies Falls, South Africa on May 2nd (this actually tied a similar reading on the same day at Bradshaw in Australia).

ASIA

Like Eastern Europe, the big weather story in Asia during May was an amazing heat wave that occurred in China, Japan, and the Koreas the last week of the month. Beijing saw its warmest May temperature on record with a 41.1°C (106.0°F) reading on May 30th. Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province set its all-time (any month) heat record with a 32.8°C (91.0°F) reading on May 25th. Kunming rests at 1,900 m (6,200’) elevation and at lower elevations in Yunnan a temperature as high as 44.5°C (112.1°F) was observed at Nansha on May 29th. If verified, this would be the hottest temperature ever measured in China during the month of May. The heat wave also broke South Korea’s all-time May heat record with a 37.4°C (99.3°F) reading at Taegu on May 31st. The heat wave pressed eastward and continued into early June. Amazingly, following a very late-season snowfall at sea level locations on Japan’s Hokkaido Island on May 22-23, all-time record heat (for any month) ensued for many locations there by late May and early June. For more about this see my blog of June 3rd and also my my blog of June 10th.

Along with the heat, China saw some devastating flooding on several occasions and different regions over the course of the month. A deluge of up to 482 mm (18.98”) fell in 48 hours in Guangdong Province near Hong Kong on May 17-18. At least 37 deaths were reported in southern China as a result of flooding in mid-May. Earlier in the month, heavy rains in Qingdao resulted in a wall collapse that killed 18 in a house for workers the Chinese state media reported.

Of anecdotal interest, a fall of fish from the sky during a rainstorm was observed in the Chilaw District of Sri Lanka on May 5th. The likely cause was a waterspout that sucked the fish up at sea before dissipating over land and allowing the fish to fall to earth. Some of the fish were 5 cm-8 cm (3”-5”) in length.



A local villager in Chilaw, Sri Lanka harvests one of the fish that fell in the district on May 5th. Photo from BBC.

The hottest temperature measured in the world during May was 50.0°C (122.0°F) at Moen Jo Daro, Pakistan on May 29th.

AUSTRALIA

Overall, it was the 3rd warmest May on record for Australia with several exceptional late fall heat events. The map below illustrates these well:



Map courtesy of ClimateCouncil.org.au

Precipitation was below normal (25% below average) for all but Western Australia where it was considerably above normal (132% of average).





Temperature (top map) and precipitation (bottom map) deciles for Australia during the past May. Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The hottest temperature for the month in Australia was 38.3°C (100.9°F) at Bradshaw, Northern Territory on May 2nd and the coldest -9.4°C (15.1°F) at Perisher Valley, New South Wales on May 8th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 144.0 mm (5.67”) at Daradgee, Queensland on May 16th.

NEW ZEALAND

During May an anomalous westerly flow over most of the country resulted in considerable rainfall in the western and southern sections of the South Island, but relatively dry and sunny conditions for much of the North Island. Milford Sound on the South Island measured 1,337 mm (52.64”) of rainfall, its 2nd wettest May on record since 1929 (beginning of POR). On one day, May 22nd, 256 mm (10.08”) fell, also the 2nd greatest May calendar day rainfall on record. In contrast, no measurable rainfall at all was observed at Wairoa on the North Island, its driest May on record (POR since 1964).

The warmest temperature observed was 26.0°C (78.8°F) at Napier on May 6th and the coldest -7.4°C (18.7°F) at Middlemarch on May 30th. On May 28th, the Whenuapai site in Auckland (POR since 1945) measured its coldest May temperature on record with a -2.5°C (27.5°F) reading.

ANTARCTICA

The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during May was –77.1°C (-106.8°F) recorded at Concordia on May 1st.

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data and Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data.


Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather

Updated: 6:23 AM GMT on June 14, 2014

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Early Summer Heat Broils Northern Hemisphere

By: weatherhistorian, 9:06 PM GMT on June 10, 2014

Early Summer Heat Broils Northern Hemisphere

While the summer has started off relatively cool for the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. many other locations in the world have been broiling the past several weeks. Record or near-record heat has been observed in portions of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, India, Nepal, China, Japan, Korea, Libya, Chad, and Mexico. Here’s a brief summary of the highlights.

An intense heat wave has developed in portions of Europe the past few days. On June 9th Ihringen in Germany reached 37.9°C (100.2°F). This was close to the all-time German national heat record for the month of June (which was 38.2°C/100.8°F at Frankfurt on June 27, 1947). This time, Frankfurt reached a sweltering 35.0° C (95.0°F), unheard of so early in the summer. Severe storms have broken out along the heat boundary in Germany and France with six storm-related deaths reported so far in Germany. A thunderstorm brought a 150 kmh (93 mph) wind gust to Dusseldorf Airport causing it to close for several hours. In France hail up to 8 cm (3”) in diameter fell in Ile-de France, Paris.



Germans flocked to the beaches during the early summer heat wave this week that saw temperature reach 100°F. Photo Picture-Alliance/DPA.

In Switzerland the temperature reached 36.4°C (97.5°F) at Liestal (also on June 9th), well short of the Swiss June national record of 37.3°C (99.1°F) set at Grono on June 21, 2003, but impressive for this early in the month nevertheless. Temperatures in France topped off at 37.7°C (99.9°F) at Carpentras on June 10th. Climatologist Maximiliano Hererra noted that in northern Italy it reached 38.9°F (102.0°C) at least one (unspecified) location. In Austria, Schaerding hit 35.6°C (96.1°F) on June 10th with Vienna reaching 35.0°C (95.0°F) on the 9th. Elsewhere in Europe unusually hot weather for the early summer was experienced in the Lapland regions of Finland and Sweden last week with temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F) above the Arctic Circle for almost an entire week. In Russia, Moscow saw a daily record high of 28.6°C (83.5°F) on June 4th. This follows the unprecedented mid-May heat wave that struck Russia, Finland, and Estonia in mid-May (see my blog posted in May for details about this event.

Earlier I also blogged about the record heat wave in China, Japan, and Korea during late May and early June but some of the records mentioned therein were beaten more recently. Most impressive was that Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan broke its June monthly record again on June 4th with a high of 33.7°C (92.7°F). Asahikawa, another major city in Hokkaido, hit 35.9°C (96.6°F) also on June 4th, smashing its previous June record of 34.6°C (94.3°F) set on June 24, 1905 and coming within just 0.1°C (0.2°F) of its all-time any month record of 36.0°C (96.8°F). Records at this site date back to 1889.

In China, a late report from a regional weather station, Nansha, in Yunnan Province claims a temperature of 44.5°C (112.1°F) was attained on May 29th. If accurate, this would be a new all-time national heat record for China for the month of May. It is somewhat verified by a 43.1°C (109.6°F) official temperature at nearby Yuangjiang the same week (on June 3) which was a new official all-time record for any month in Yunnan Province for a first-order site in the Chinese meteorological network.

Elsewhere in Asia, India has seen extreme heat for the past week. At New Delhi’s Palam Airport the temperature reached 47.8°C (118.0°F) on June 8th, the 2nd hottest temperature ever measured at that site. Agra hit a blistering 47.3° (117.1°F) on June 10th and 48.6°C (119.5°F) was reported from Ganganagar on June 8th, the warmest reading so far in the country. In Nepal the temperature peaked at 45.2°C (113.4°F) at Dipayal, just short of the all-time (any month) national record of 46.4°C (115.5°F) set at Dhanghadi on June 16, 1995.

Libya saw a temperature of 48.7°C (119.7°F) reached at the oasis of Jalu on June 3rd, just short of the site’s all-time record of 49.1°C (120.4°F) set back in 1961.

Chad saw a 47.0°C (116.6°F) reading at Faya Iargeau also on June 3rd which was just short of the all-time national record (for any month) of 47.6°C (117.7°F) set at the same site on June 22, 2010.

In Israel, Ben-Gurian Airport near Tel Aviv, reached 42.7°C (108.7°F) on June 4th, a daily record.

Mexico saw some amazing temperatures last week with a site in Sonora State called Moris reporting 51.5°C (124.7°F) on June 4th. This figure, however, is suspicious and not well verified by surrounding stations. A more believable 50.5°C (122.9°F) was registered at El Oregano on June 4th. This is just 1.5°C (2.7°F) short of Mexico’s all-time national heat record of 52.0°C (125.6°F) set at two sites in the Mexicali area in July 1995. The heat in northern Mexico brushed the U.S. Southwest during the first week of June. El Paso, Texas saw a string of four consecutive record-breaking days June 2-5 with a peak of 109°F (42.8°C) on June 3rd. This was the hottest temperature ever measured so early in the summer for the city.



El Paso, Texas got off to a hot start this June with four consecutive record-breaking days June 2-5. So far, the month is averaging 8.0°F above normal. Table from NWS-El Paso.

In Australia it is now late Fall, early winter so the summer days of extreme heat are long gone. However, May was one of the country’s warmest such with a number of late season heat records set. Below is a map pointing out some of the highlights:



Map courtesy of ClimateCouncil.org.au

KUDOS: Thanks to Maximiliano Hererra for temperature records and Yusuke Uemura for Japanese data and records.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat

Updated: 6:01 PM GMT on June 11, 2014

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California Drought Update; Big Improvement in Texas

By: weatherhistorian, 8:39 PM GMT on June 06, 2014

California Drought Update; Big Improvement in Texas

The rainy season is essentially over for California. Although it officially does not come to a close until June 30th, the odds of any further precipitation this month anywhere in the state (aside from scattered thunderstorms in the Sierra and desert southeast) are extremely small. That’s the bad news. The good news is a tremendous improvement in drought conditions in Texas. Here’s a brief review.


California Drought Situation




As of June 5th, the entire state of California remains under ‘severe to exceptional’ drought conditions. This will not change until at least next November. NOAA.

No late season miracle occurred precipitation-wise during May in most of California and it is, as mentioned above, highly unlikely any further rainfall will occur in the next three weeks as the water season draws to a close on June 30th. Statewide the season’s (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014) percentage of annual average precipitation stands at 49.7%. This makes this the driest season (statewide) since the record set in 1976-1977 which was 42.4%. Below is a table of seasonal precipitation to date (as of June 6) compared to the average total seasonal precipitation (July 1-June 30) for a selection of major California cities arranged geographically from north to south. What is interesting (and historically almost unprecedented) is how evenly distributed the lack of precipitation has been across the large state of California. Even in past historic drought years there has usually been some part of the state that received significantly more or less moisture than some other part. Not this past year.



Seasonal precipitation as of June 6th for a selection of California cities (arranged geographically north to south) compared to what the normal total seasonal precipitation (July 1-June 30) should be. It is unlikely any additional rainfall will occur this month at any of these sites with the exception of Eureka and Redding which normally would see .50” between June 6-30.

The state’s reservoirs are ending the season at 69% of normal capacity. This is the 2nd lowest such on record, which was just 45% in 1977 at the end of the water year.



Major reservoir capacities as of June 6th. The average statewide stands at 69% of average. Map from California Department of Water Resources.

In response to the drought, state officials have relaxed some environmental restrictions on water allocations to help drought-stricken agricultural land in the Central Valley. Some local communities have begun water-rationing but, so far, no statewide adoption of such has been instituted. This, I’m sure, will change very soon. Many residents are clinging to the hope that a developing El Niño will bring relief to the drought next water season. These hopes have little basis in reality since only very strong El Niño’s, like the last one of 1997-1998, actually impact seasonal precipitation across the entire state. Current models indicate the coming El Niño will be of only ‘moderate’ strength. This may have an impact on the southern third of the state but, historically, moderate El Niño’s have not influenced rainfall patterns one way or the other for the northern two-thirds of California.

Texas Drought Situation

Unlike California, there has been a tremendous improvement to the overall drought situation in Texas over the course of the past two weeks. A comparison of the drought monitor maps for May 20th and June 3rd tell the story:





Drought monitor maps for May 20th (top) and June 3rd (bottom) show how recent heavy rainfall has helped alleviate the drought situation in much of the hardest hit regions of Texas. NOAA

Since the June 3rd map was released, additional heavy rainfall has occurred in the areas still under ‘exceptional’ drought conditions. Just this morning (June 6th) Amarillo picked up a flooding 1.34” of rain during a thunderstorm. This brings Amarillo’s year-to-date precipitation up to 6.05”, close to the normal of 6.93”. However, not everyone in Texas has benefited form the recent rains. Wichita Falls missed out on the big rain event in late May and is still enduring a ‘Stage 4 drought disaster’ (out of a possible five stages; Stage 5 is termed a ‘Drought Catastrophe’). Since January 1st only 5.10” of precipitation has fallen compared to normal 12.35” for the period (as of June 5th).

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Drought

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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.