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Earth has its 4th Warmest August on Record, and 6 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:37 PM GMT on September 23, 2013

August 2013 was the globe's 4th warmest August since records began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated it the 5th warmest August on record. The year-to-date period of January - August has been the 6th warmest such period on record. August 2013 global land temperatures were the 11th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 5th warmest on record. August 2013 was the 342nd consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. Global satellite-measured temperatures in August 2013 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 14th or 11th warmest in the 35-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), respectively. Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of August 2013 in his August 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary. The big stories that he highlights are the intense heat waves that hit Central Europe and East Asia, which brought all-time national heat records to Austria, Slovenia, and Japan. Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, passed its all-time heat record a remarkable five times during the month.

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for August 2013, the 4th warmest August for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Most of the world's land areas experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, including Australia, northern South America, western North America, Europe, and much of eastern Asia. Far eastern China, part of eastern Russia north of Japan, and part of northeastern South America were record warm for the month. The southeastern United States, Far East Russia, part of South Africa, Paraguay, and Bolivia were cooler than average. No regions of the globe were record cold. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .

The six billion-dollar weather disasters of August 2013

Disaster 1. The most damaging billion-dollar weather disaster of August was in Northeast China, where the Nei River overflowed, killing 54 and leaving 97 missing in Fushuan. The flooding killed 118 people and cost $5 billion. In this photo, workers use an excavator to clean up mud after heavy rain hit on August 19, 2013 in Fushuan, in the Liaoning Province of China. Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images.

Disaster 2. Super Typhoon Utor killed 70 people in China and did $2.6 billion in damage. Utor also did $33 million in damage in the Philippines. This video taken by storm chaser James Reynolds shows debris flying as Typhoon Utor hits Zhapo, China on 14th August 2013.

Disaster 3. Torrential rains, due, in part, to moisture from Typhoon Trami, fell in the Philippines August 18 - 21, causing massive flooding on Luzon Island that cost $2.2 billion. Twenty-seven people were killed, and 60% of metro Manila was under water at the peak of the flood. According to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, this was the most expensive natural disaster in Philippine history. In this photo, pedicabs and makeshift rafts ferry office workers and pedestrians through flood waters that submerged parts of the financial district of Makati on August 20, 2013 in Makati City south of Manila, Philippines. Image credit: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

Disaster 4. In Pakistan, torrential monsoon rains caused significant flooding that affected 5,739 villages. At least 208 people were killed, 63,180 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 1.4 million acres (567,000 hectares) of crops were submerged. The government estimated economic agricultural losses alone at $1.9 billion. Pakistan's four most expensive weather-related disasters in its history have been floods that occurred in the past four consecutive years. In this photo, Pakistani residents hold onto a rope as they evacuate a flooded area in Karachi on August 4, 2013. Image credit: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

Figure 5. Russia experienced its costliest flood disaster in history beginning on August 4, when the Amur and Zeya rivers in the far east of the country along the Chinese border overflowed, flooding 1.7 million acres, damaging or destroying over 11,500 buildings. It was the 4th most expensive natural disaster of any kind in Russian history. These false-color infrared satellite images of Russia's Amur River taken a little over a year apart show the extent of the extreme flooding that affected the Komsomolsk-on-Amur area (population 500,000) in August 2013. Image credit: NASA.

Disaster 6. A severe weather outbreak in the U.S. Plains and Midwest August 5 - 7 brought baseball sized hail and thunderstorm wind gusts over 80 mph to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Two people were killed, and damage was estimated at $1 billion. In this photo, a severe thunderstorm closes in on Edgemont, South Dakota, on August 7, 2013. Image credit: wunderphotographer ninjalynn.

The world-wide tally of billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2013 is 25, and the U.S. total is six, according to the August 2013 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield. This excludes the September Colorado flood, whose damages are preliminarily estimated at $2 billion. Ranked in term of cost, here are the 25 disasters:

1) Flooding, Central Europe, 5/30 - 6/6, $22 billion
2) Drought, Brazil, 1/1 - 5/31, $8.3 billion
3) Drought, Central and Eastern China, 1/1 - 7/31, $6.0 billion
4) Flooding, Calgary, Alberta Canada, 6/19 - 6/24, $5.3 billion
5) Flooding, China, 8/9 - 9/5, $5.0 billion
6) Tornado, Moore, OK, and associated U.S. severe weather, 5/18 - 5/22, $4.5 billion
6) Flooding, China, 7/7 - 7/17, $4.5 billion
8) Flooding, Indonesia, 1/20 - 1/27, $3.31 billion
9) Super Typhoon Utor, China and Philippines, 8/12 - 8/15, $2.6 billion
10) Flooding, Australia, 1/21 - 1/30, $2.5 billion
11) Flooding, Philippines, 8/18 - 8/21, $2.2 billion
12 Tornadoes and severe weather, U.S., 5/26 - 6/2, $2 billion
12) Severe weather, Midwest U.S., 3/18 - 3/20, $2 billion
14) Flooding, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 8/3 - 8/31, $1.9 billion
15) Winter weather, Europe, 3/12 - 3/31, $1.8 billion
16) Drought, New Zealand, 1/1 - 5/10, $1.6 billion
16) Severe weather, U.S., 4/7 - 4/11, $1.6 billion
18) Flooding, Toronto, Canada, 7/8, $1.45 billion
19) Flooding, China, 6/29 - 7/3, $1.4 billion
19) Flooding, China, 7/21 - 7/25, $1.4 billion
21) Flooding, Argentina, 4/2 - 4/4, $1.3 billion
22) Flooding, India and Nepal, 6/14 - 6/18, $1.1 billion
23) Winter weather, U.S. Plains, Midwest, Northeast, 2/24 - 2/27, $1.0 billion
23) Severe weather, U.S. Plains and Midwest, 8/5 - 8/7, $1.0 billion
23) Flooding, Russia, 8/4 - 8/31, $1.0 billion

Neutral El Niño conditions continue in the equatorial Pacific
For the 17th month in row, neutral El Niño conditions existed in the equatorial Pacific during August 2013. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) expects neutral El Niño conditions to last though the winter of 2013 - 2014, and the large majority of the El Niño models also predict that neutral conditions will last through the winter. Temperatures in the equatorial Eastern Pacific need to be 0.5°C below average or cooler for three consecutive months for a La Niña episode to be declared; sea surface temperatures were 0.0°C from average as of September 16, and have been +0.1 to -0.4°C from average since April 1, 2013.

Arctic sea ice falls to 6th lowest August extent on record
Arctic sea ice extent during August was 6th lowest in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This was the largest August extent since 2009, and a nice change of pace from last year's all-time record retreat. The Arctic sea ice reached its minimum extent for the year on September 13, and has now begun re-freezing. I'll have a dedicated post on this, probably on Tuesday.

Quiet in the Atlantic
In the Gulf of Mexico, the tail end of a cold front off the coast of Texas has developed a few disorganized heavy thunderstorms. This disturbance has some modest spin to it, thanks to absorbing Invest 95L on Saturday. However, wind shear is high, 20 - 30 knots, and I don't expect this disturbance will develop. The disturbance is expected to bring 1 - 3" of rain to Florida later this week, and on Saturday, the Army Corps of Engineers has re-opened the flood gates on Lake Okeechobee to dump water out of the lake in anticipation of the heavy rains. None the reliable models for tropical cyclone formation is predicting development during the coming five days.

In the Western Pacific, Typhoon Usagi has dissipated after hitting China about 100 miles east-northeast of Hong Kong. The storm is being blamed for at least 25 deaths in China and 2 in the Philippines. Preliminary damage estimates are over $500 million.

Jeff Masters

Climate Summaries

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

1002. Torito
Quoting 981. Neapolitan:
Two images tell the whole story so far:



Whoda thunk it?

at least we are ahead of 2009 in number of named storms so far..
The Atlantic is MORE DEAD THAN DEAD.
1004. LargoFl

Quoting 997. SRQfl:
Looks like we are in for some more rough weather here in NW Sarasota county. Surf is up in WFL in the fun range but I was chased off the beach @ dawn this am because of the lightning :( The lil bayou I live next too is overfull, flowing, and flooding half my cul de sac and yard. Maybe I'll go whitewater kayaking instead...

Thea heaviest rain appears to be holding offshore of Tampa Bay due to an area of stable stratiform rain setting up from deep convection debris sparing them from massive rain totals.

It appears an area of very intense rainfall wants to setup around the Sarasota area.

Quoting 998. F16NightSpook:

Daks: I know what you mean. I'm south of you in the Redlands (between Miami & Homestead) where we have an avocado grove. We use the old aviator's HAI scale (Heavy Air Index) which goes from 0-10. Zero is light, breathable, cool crisp air as one might experience in the parts of America where I hear they have 4 seasons. Ten on that scale is HEAVY, WET, oppressive air that is so thick that the bugs can't even fly through it...they simply walk up to any altitude until the air starts to cool. Obviously, the HAI decreases with altitude as the air cools, so when you get higher and the HAI decreases, the bugs have to resort to flying. You know you are close to a 9 or 10 when you get out of the shower and you get wetter. At about 7-8 you get out of the car and your glasses immediately fog up so you can't see. The mid-range is normal for us, but visitors still say "It's SO HUMID here!" The HAI is always very low from about Oct 15 until May 15, so things can be wonderful here with the dry, sunny days of the "Dry Season." (Some people insist on calling that Fall or Winter.) The HAI comes back into effect in mid-May when you walk outside and feel that the "Rainy Season" is back. The HAI is inversely proportional to the TTI which is the Tourist Traffic Index. When the HAI is low, the tourists are here in swarms and there are no mosquitos, and when the HAI is high, there are no tourists but the bugs are here in swarms.
Bottom Line: It's much easier to shovel sunshine than snow, so that's why I love it here, even though the wind sometimes blows 120Kts!

Humid air is not heavier, warm humid air is less dense and rises, cold dry air is heavier ;)
we will have a tropical storm in October this year.
1010. LargoFl
look at those pockets of 8 inch rains (yellow) out there..
1011. JNTenne
Quoting 1010. LargoFl:
look at those pockets of 8 inch rains (yellow) out there..
Cue the sinkholes!
1012. Torito
Invest 92E:

1013. Torito

1014. LargoFl
oh boy scott was right with 10 inches or more in spots..
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
1016. LargoFl
huge amounts of rain offshore coming in slowly...
1017. SRQfl
Quoting 1006. Jedkins01:

Thea heaviest rain appears to be holding offshore of Tampa Bay due to an area of stable stratiform rain setting up from deep convection debris sparing them from massive rain totals.

It appears an area of very intense rainfall wants to setup around the Sarasota area.

Yes, concerning situation unfolding. My wife is from Omaha, NE, She tells me this morning "There are Cornhuskers in Nebraska that sure could use this rain! When will it stop?". I tell her, "maybe Wed pm." Her eyes widen lol I tell her "NE couldn't handle this much rain in one month, let alone 3 days!"
Quoting 1017. SRQfl:

Yes, concerning situation unfolding. My wife is from Omaha, NE, She tells me this morning "There are Cornhuskers in Nebraska that sure could use this rain! When will it stop?". I tell her, "maybe Wed pm." Her eyes widen lol I tell her "NE couldn't handle this much rain in one month, let alone 3 days!"

lol very true, and consider that most of Florida has had at least 2 of these heavy rain events per month for the last 4 months combined with just daily heating rains on a day to day basis.

I know a lot of southwest Florida has had 10 to 20 inches yet again over past month. Some places in Collier and Lee county(Naples, Ft. Myers area) have had from near 60 to 70 inches for the year and much of it falling since early June!
Quoting 1007. Jedkins01:

Humid air is not heavier, warm humid air is less dense and rises, cold dry air is heavier ;)

Certainly true! The entire post was satire involving the oppressive humidity we sometimes endure in S. Florida when the cold fronts just don't quite make it this far south. When that occurs, we often hear comments that "the air feels 'heavy' today." Thanks for setting the record straight for those who didn't figure out that there really is no such thing as a Heavy Air Index. :-)
1020. hydrus
Swirl off of Texas..
1021. hydrus
hydrus...you are on the wrong blog :)
Quoting 985. WaterWitch11:
1 in 100 years
1 in 500 years
1 in 1000 years
we really need to quit using these terms it gives people the impression that they only occur in the time period stated above.

1% annual chance event
0.2% annual chance event
0.1% annual chance event
Those are now the more preferred terms.

Sometimes you will still see something like "100yr average recurrence interval" used; a little less confusing than "100yr event" but still not the best for the layperson.
Quoting 942. MarkMatis:
I see it's already snowing in California:
http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/23503668/snow-covers -parts-of-california#axzz2foLtx749
Maybe that's why short-term events such as the August heat are known as "weather". Or does that only work ONE way? By the way, did I miss the post documenting the HUGE number of record lows across the US in July?

Huge, just HUGE I tell you! So huge, in fact, that the lines for accumulation of record highs and lows ran almost parallel. So HUGE, in fact, that the ~650 record lows in July 2013 is just over 4% of the ~15000 record highs set in March 2012! Wow!