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2011 December

Top ten global weather events of 2011

A remarkable blitz of extreme weather events during 2011 caused a total of 32 weather disasters costing at least $1 billion worldwide. Five nations experienced their most expensive weather-related natural disasters on record during 2011--Thailand, Australia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. The U.S. was hit by seventeen punishing multi-billion dollar extreme weather disasters in 2011.

JeffMasters, • 7:00 PM GMT on December 30, 2011

2011: Year of the Tornado

The year 2011 will forever be known as Year of the Tornado in the U.S. A series of violent severe storms swept across the Plains and Southeast U.S., bringing an astonishing six billion-dollar disasters in a three-month period. The epic tornado onslaught killed 552 people and caused $25 billion in damage. Three of the five largest tornado outbreaks on record hit in a six-week period.

JeffMasters, • 7:25 PM GMT on December 27, 2011

A white Christmas will be a U.S. rarity in 2011; November the globe's 12th warmest

A white Christmas will be a rarity across most of the U.S. this year, as December temperatures have been more typical of November, and very little snow has fallen. Large portions of the eastern half of the country have been more than 4°F above average so far in December.

JeffMasters, • 7:26 PM GMT on December 22, 2011

Deadliest weather disaster of 2011: the East African drought

The deadliest weather disaster of 2011 is a quiet one that has gotten few headlines--the East African drought in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. On July 20, the United Nations officially declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia--the first time a famine has been declared by the U.N. in nearly thirty years. Almost 30,000 children under the age of five were believed to have died of malnutrition in Somalia this summer, and the total death toll of this great drought is doubtless much higher.

JeffMasters, • 5:07 PM GMT on December 20, 2011

Tropical Storm Washi kills 632 in the Philippines

The death toll on the Philippine island of Mindanao is at least 632 in the wake of extreme flash flooding from Friday's passage of Tropical Storm Washi. Washi hit Mindanao as a tropical storm with 45 - 55 mph winds, crossing the island in about eighteen hours. Washi hit a portion of the Philippines that does not see tropical storms and typhoons very often. Mindanao lies between 6°N and 9°N latitude, which is too close to the Equator for the Earth's spin to provide much help for a tropical storm trying to get spinning.

JeffMasters, • 3:47 PM GMT on December 19, 2011

Our extreme weather: Arctic changes to blame?

Arctic sea ice loss may significantly affect the upper-level atmospheric circulation, slowing its winds and increasing its tendency to make contorted high-amplitude loops. High-amplitude loops in the upper level wind pattern increases the probability of persistent weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, potentially leading to extreme weather due to longer-duration cold spells, snow events, heat waves, flooding events, and drought conditions.

JeffMasters, • 9:50 PM GMT on December 16, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee's flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw?

Tropical Storm Lee which brought torrential rains to Binghamton, New York on September 8. A flood 8.5 inches higher than the city's flood walls spilled over into the city, causing tens of millions in damage. The extra moisture that global warming has added to the atmosphere over the past 40 years could have been "the straw that broke the camel's back" which allowed Binghamton's flood walls to be overtopped.

JeffMasters, • 3:55 PM GMT on December 14, 2011

Wettest year on record in Philadelphia; 2011 sets record for wet/dry extremes in U.S.

This year is now the wettest year in nearly 200 years of record keeping in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A large, wet low pressure system soaked the Northeast U.S. on Wednesday and early Thursday, bringing 2.31" of rain to Philly, bringing this year's tally to 62.26 inches. This breaks the old yearly precipitation record of 61.20 inches, set in 1867. This is one of the most difficult U.S. city records to break, since rainfall records in Philadelphia go back to 1820.

JeffMasters, • 3:00 PM GMT on December 12, 2011

Watch out for the bugs

Crop losses due to insect pests are expected to double by 2100, according to a insect pest/crop model designed by David Battisti of the University of Washington. These losses will occur in addition to the expected 35 - 40% decrease in crop yields due to higher temperatures by the end of the century.

JeffMasters, • 12:56 AM GMT on December 10, 2011

Twelve U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011 so far: NOAA

The official tally of billion-dollar U.S. weather disasters in 2011 is now twelve, according to NOAA. This is the greatest number of billion-dollar weather disasters in U.S. history, besting the record of nine set in 2008. Two additional disasters, the October 29 snowstorm in the Northeast, and the flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in early September, may surpass the $1 billion mark.

JeffMasters, • 6:11 PM GMT on December 08, 2011

CSU and TSR predict above average 2012 Atlantic hurricane season

Above-average Atlantic hurricane activity is likely for 2012, but there is a 40% chance of an El Niño event that will keep hurricane activity below average, according to the latest seasonal forecast issued today by Colorado State University. Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. is also calling for an above-average year, with 14.1 named storms, 6.7 hurricanes, and 3.3 intense hurricanes.

JeffMasters, • 5:17 PM GMT on December 07, 2011

Climate change education in zoos

CliZEN, The Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network, is a new climate change education effort being developed for use at 9 U.S. zoos. Zoos represent a unique way for people to connect to the natural world, and over 50 million people in the U.S. go to the zoo each year. Thus, zoos thus offer a unique opportunity to communicate how climate change threatens the natural world.

JeffMasters, • 5:20 PM GMT on December 05, 2011

The City That Plans to be Flooded

New York City is planning to be flooded--and according to NHC, it will be. Based on the historical record, hurricanes of Categories 1, 2 and 3 will strike the New York region on an average of every 17, 39 and 68 years. The City has been overdue for a Category 1 hurricane. In testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, Max Mayfield, the former director of NHC, said, "It is not a question of if a major hurricane will strike the New York area, but when.

Douglas Hill • 2:22 PM GMT on December 02, 2011