Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.
By: weatherhistorian, 6:43 PM GMT on March 27, 2014
Warmest Places on Earth: Average Annual Temperature
There are many sources detailing what the hottest places in the world are so far as all-time maximum observed temperatures have been, including previous blogs I’ve posted on WU concerning such and Maximiliano Hererra’s Wikipedia page of world temperature records.. However, no one has yet detailed what the warmest overall sites in the world are in terms of highest average annual temperature. Here is a list of such researched by climatologist Maximiliano Hererra and covering each continent and also a collection of significant sub regions.
NOTES ABOUT THE DATA
The average annual temperatures may vary slightly according to how they are calculated and also in which way the daily average temperatures are calculated (metadata, min/max divided by 2, etc..). Obviously they also vary according to the periods of record (POR’s). An effort has been made to take into account the latest POR’s, provided they contain reliable data. In a few cases, when the distance between the ‘winner’ and the runner-ups was small, and within a margin of error, the runner-up sites have been identified. The rough decimal latitudes and longitudes for each site are included. The temperatures are in both degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius with (in the blog text) the original data source coming first: i.e. if the measurements were made originally in F° then that is listed ahead of the C° and visa versa, so one understands how the translation for each figure was determined.
WARMEST LOCATIONS ON THE SEVEN CONTINENTS
1. Africa: Dallol, Ethiopia: 94.0°F/34.4°C (POR 1960-1966)
Only a few years of data exist for this site, measured by a mining company from 1960-1966, and with quite a bit of unreliable data. There is, however, no doubt that the Danakil Depression ( lowest elevation -381’/-116 m) in Ethiopia (where Dallol is located) and perhaps the Lake Assal Depression (lowest elevation -492’/-150 m) in nearby Djibouti (for which there is no climate data) are, on average, the hottest year-around places on Earth. Keep in mind that the 94°F (34.4°C) annual average of Dallol may not be its true average temperature given how short the period of record is.
Monthly temperature table for Dallol during the POR of 1960-1966. Elevation of the site was -248’/-75 m below sea level. Source ‘World Survey of Climatology: Climates of Africa’, Vol. 10, p. 142.
For inhabited locations in Africa Berbera in Somalia, Djibouti City, and Assab and Massawa in Eritrea may be the warmest African towns but due to wars and despotic governments little modern data for these sites is available. Assab averaged 30.2°C (86.4°F) for the POR of 1961-1990 but there were many gaps and errors in the data. During the colonial era Berbera had an average annual temperature of 85.5°F (29.7°C) for the POR of 1908-1950 as did Massawa from 1932-1950. Djibouti City in the eponymous named nation may perhaps also be considered in the same league with the other sites named above with a colonial era average annual temperature of 86.0°F (30.0°C) for the POR of 1901-1954. For the POR of 1961-1990 Djibouti averaged 29.9°C (85.8°F) but climatology suggests that Berbera and Massawa may be a bit warmer than Djibouti City if we had more up to date records. In any case, in no way are any of these towns even close to the heat of the Danakil and Assal Depressions.
The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is almost certainly the hottest place in the world so far as average annual temperature is concerned. A mining site at Dallol in the depression maintained weather records for the period of 1960-1966 and averaged 94.0°F (34.4°C) year around. This photo is of Black Lake near Dallol. Photo by Roland Gerth.
2. Asia: Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia: 30.7°C/87.3°F (POR 1980-2009)
This average is for the Makkah (Mecca) Airport location.
Mecca (Makkah), Saudi Arabia is not only the hottest place in Asia but also the hottest city in the world in terms of its average annual temperature of 30.7°C (87.3°F). Getty Images.
3. South America: Guaymaral, Colombia: 29.4°C/84.9°F (POR 1971-2000)
Guaymaral in Colombia is near the town of Valledupar, Cesar Department.
Guaymaral is near the city of Valledupar (pictured above) in a deep valley in the Cesar Department of far northeastern Colombia. With its average annual temperature of 29.4°C (84.9°F) it would be the warmest site with a weather station in South America. Photographer not identified (from Trip Advisor.com).
4. Australia: Wyndham Port, Western Australia: 29.4°C/84.9°F (POR 1961-1990)
The warmest place in Australia and also probably in the entire southern hemisphere is the Port site near the town of Wyndham (pictured above) in Western Australia where the temperature averages 29.4°C (84.9°F) year around. Photo from Wikicommons.
5. North America (Canada+USA+Mexico): Escuintla, Chiapas State, Mexico: 28.2°C/82.8°F (POR 1981-2010)
Most of the data from Mexican AWS (Automated Weather Stations) is of very bad quality, therefore data from stations with irregular or unreliable data have not been considered. For instance at Ciudad Altamirano in Guerrero State (which would climatologically be one of the warmest Mexican States in terms of average annual temperature) the data for the past years has become very irregular, so the last reliable POR for Ciudad Altamirano is the 1971-2000 POR with a 28.0°C (82.4°F) annual average, slightly cooler than that of Escuintla, which is a DGE (Direccion General de Epidemiologica) station, with purportedly better quality data than the AWS sites.
The only image purportedly of Escuintla in the Chiapas State of Mexico I could find on the web. Good climate data for Mexico is hard to come by but the best, most reliable figure for warmest place (average annual temperature) seems to indicate this small town of 9,000 people. With an average annual temperature of 28.2°C (82.8°F) it would be the warmest place in North America. Photographer not identified
6. Europe: Ierapetra, Crete, Greece: 19.7°C/67.5°F (POR 1956-1997)
The HNMS (Hellenic National Meteorological Service) calculated the temperature averages for various sites in different ways than in any standard way. So, depending on how you calculate the daily averages (min/max or hourly average), the yearly temperature averages (averages of each month during the whole POR’s, year by year ...) it would appear that the Ierapetra yearly average can vary between 19.1°C (66.4°F) and 19.7°C (67.5°F). Even so, 19.1°C would still be 0.1°C higher than Lampedusa Island (Italy) with an annual average temperature of 19.0°C (66.2°F) and also 0.3°C higher than the Seville and Almeria Airport (Spain) averages.
The resort and historic town of Ierapetra on the island of Crete in Greece is the most likely candidate as the warmest place in Europe with its annual average temperature a pleasant 19.7°C (67.5°F). Photo from ‘Visit Greece’ tourism board.
7. Antarctica (conventionally below 60S): Arctowski (Polish station), St. George Island: -1.6°C/29.1°F (POR “for the past 30 years”-exact years of this POR not clear)
…followed by King Sejong (South Korean Station) -1.7C (28.9°F), also located on King George Island.
The warmest place on the coldest continent is the Arctowski Polish research base (pictured above) on the island of King George, part of the South Shetland Islands chain off the coast of Graham Land, Antarctica. Wikipedia image.
WARMEST LOCATIONS IN IMPORTANT SUB REGIONS
8. Asia (outside of the Arabian Peninsula): Klong Thoey, Bangkok, Thailand: 30.3°C/86.5°F (POR 1981-2010).
Nellore, India with a 29.2°C (84.6°F) annual average for the POR of 1961-1990 is/was the warmest location in India. Later POR data for Nellore is not available. During the past 30 years, thanks to urbanization, Bangkok Metropolis and specifically the downtown Bangkok Klong Thoey station, have seen their annual average temperatures rise higher than Nellore.
Outside of the Arabian Peninsula, it now appears Bangkok (specifically the downtown Klong Thoey site) has become the hottest site in Asia thanks to the Bangkok’s massive urbanization over the past 30 years (the metro population is estimated to be around 10 million). Daily high temperatures reach 33°C (90°F) almost everyday of the year and the actual average annual temperature year around in Klong Thoey District is a sweltering 30.3°C (86.5°F) according to the most recent POR of 1981-2010. Photo from Wikicommons.
9. Extra Tropical (anywhere outside the tropics 23.5°N-23.5°S): Mezyed, U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates): 29.2°C/84.6°F (POR 2003-2012)
There are various spellings of the name of this site (Mazyed, Mezyad, etc..)
A photograph of Mezyed Fort, ostensibly in or near the location mentioned above. Photographer not identified and source in Arabic (which I am unable to translate).
10. Central America: La Union, El Salvador: 28.8°C/83.8°F (POR 20 years, dates not specified)
Choluteca, Honduras with an annual average temperature of 28.7°C (83.7°F) is in a statistical dead heat with La Union.
Photo of the port of La Union, El Salvador. Photographer not identified, from paxgaea.com
11. Oceania (aside from Australia): Tarawa, Kiribati: 28.3°C/82.9°F (POR 1961-1990)
Funafuti, Tuvalu is almost as warm as Tarawa with a 28.2°C (82.8°F) annual average temperature. In fact, this could be considered a statistical dead heat.
An aerial image of the Kiribati Parliament House in Tarawa, Kiribati. Photo from janersture.com,
12. Caribbean: Aruba Airport, Netherlands Protectorate, Caribbean Islands: 28.1°C/82.6°F (POR 1981-2010).
For the 1971-2000 POR the average annual temperature for Bonaire (also part of the same Netherlands Protectorate as Aruba) was 28.0°C (82.4°F) which beat Aruba’s 27.8°C (82.0°F) for that same POR. The 1981-2010 Bonaire data is not yet available. The Venezuelan Island of Margarita has a site called Punta de Piedras on its south coast with an annual average temperature of 28.2°C (82.8°F) for the 1971-2000 POR and does lie in the Caribbean Sea, however, politically it is part of South America.
The Airport at Aruba, Netherlands Protectorate is perhaps the warmest location in the Caribbean. Photo from Pilot Publishing, Inc.
13. U.S.A: Marathon Airport, Middle Keys, Florida: 78.5°F/25.8°C (POR 1981-2010)
The warmest site in Hawaii is 77.9/25.5°C at Kailua Kona Ahole Airport on the west coast of the Big Island. POR 1981-2010.
A view of Marathon, Florida located in the Middle Keys of Florida’s Key Island chain and the airport of which (visible running down the middle of the island in the photo above) is officially the warmest site in the U.S. (including Hawaii) according to the most recent 1981-2010 NCDC data. Its average annual temperature is 78.5°F (25.8°C). Photo by Carmen Powers.
14. Arctic (above the Polar Circle at 66.56°N): Tennholmen Island, (west of Bodo), Norway: 5.6°C/42.1°F (1961-1990)
There are several locations in Norway with this name or something close to it including another Tennholmen Island at 70.75°N. The Tennholmen I refer to is a tiny dot of an island west of Bodo and has virtually nothing on it but a lighthouse with a weather station.
Tennholmen Island Lighthouse off the coast of Norway 32 kilometers (20 miles) west of Bodo and in operation since 1901. Photo from Norsk Fyrhistorisk Forening.
WHAT ABOUT THE COLDEST (AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURES) PLACES ON EARTH?
Max and I will make an attempt of what these might be for inhabited regions at some point in the future.
KUDOS: Thanks to Maximiliano Hererra for researching the climatological data. This subject (of warmest annual average temperatures on Earth by continent and region) has never been systematically researched or published previously.
Christopher C. Burt
Updated: 4:47 AM GMT on February 11, 2017
By: weatherhistorian, 9:08 PM GMT on March 25, 2014
Worst Landslides in U.S. History
UPDATE March 26 As Jeff Masters recently blogged the Oso, Washington landslide has taken the lives of at least 20-24 people and perhaps many more. This would make this the single deadliest event of such (excluding volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, or area-wide mudslides) in U.S. history. How does this slide compare to other such events in U.S. history?
The largest landslide in modern U.S. history (in terms of volume) was most likely one that occurred just last year in Bingham Canyon outside of Salt Lake City, Utah on April 10, 2013. It had a slide mass of 55 million cubic meters (compared to an estimated 10 million cubic meters during the Oso, Washington event). Fortunately, no one was injured or killed during the Utah slide.
The largest (in terms of volume: 55 million cubic meters) landslide in modern U.S. history occurred last year at the Kennecott Copper Mine in Utah’s Bingham Canyon. There were no injuries since the mine operators had evacuated the site days earlier. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.
The 2nd largest slide was the famous Gros Ventre slide on the northern end of Sheep Mountain that overlooks Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This occurred on June 23, 1925 following one of the wettest springs on record in the region. The slide had a mass of 38 million cubic meters and formed a dam that consequently burst, flooding the tiny village of Kelly, Wyoming and killing six.
Probably the largest single landslide in modern U.S. history whose origins were completely natural was the Gros Ventre slide in Wyoming on June 23, 1925 when 38 mm cubics of rock fell. The photo above shows how it looks today. Photo from Teton County Emergency Management web site.
Prior to the Washington slide, the most recent deadly slide was that which overwhelmed La Conchita, California on January 10, 2005 killing 10. This, however, was a small slide (just 200,000 cubic meters) which unfortunately occurred in a densely populated neighborhood. The costliest slide in U.S. history was the Thistle, Utah event of April 1983 (15 million cubic meters in volume). The slide caused a lake 160-feet deep to form and the flooding wiped out the town of Thistle causing an estimated $200-400 million (1983 dollars) in damage.
The costliest landslide in U.S. history occurred in the Thistle, Utah area in April 1983. The huge lake (pictured above) caused by the landslide wiped out the town of Thistle and buried several important transportation routes. Photo from Wikicommons.
It is difficult to state what the deadliest ‘landslide’ in U.S. history has been since some were a combination of factors (sometimes of human origin like the collapse of the St. Francis Dam in California in 1928 that resulted in 500 deaths) or a series of mud and debris flows over a wide area as occurred in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California in 1982 killing 30 and in Nelson County, Virginia in 1969 when the remnants of Hurricane Camille dropped 27” of rain resulting in mudslides that killed 153. According to the USGS, landslides or mudslides/flows kill 25 in the U.S. each year.
Landslides Caused by Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes
Of course, the Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption on May 18, 1980 caused the largest landslide in U.S. history and its debris flows resulted in the deaths of dozens of people (57 fatalities associated with the volcanic eruption in total). The volume of the landslide caused by the collapse of the mountain is estimated at 2.9 cubic square kilometers in size.
The eruption of Mt. Saint Helens on May 18, 1980 resulted in what was obviously the largest ‘landslide’ in modern U.S. history. Some 2.9 cubic kilometers of the mountainside collapsed. Photo from USGS.
The March 27, 1964 Alaskan earthquake (9.2 on the Richter Scale) resulted in massive landslides above and below the ocean (211 mm cubic at Seward and 9.6 mm cubic in Turnagain Heights). The slides resulted in deadly tsunamis from Alaska to California and Hawaii, which contributed to the 139 fatalities associated with the earthquake. Another Alaskan earthquake, this one on July 9, 1958 caused 30 mm cubic of rock to plunge into Lituya Bay creating a wave 1,700’ tall which washed the surrounding shorelines clean of vegetation some 100 feet above the bay. Two unlucky fisherman perished. The Yellowstone earthquake in 1959 caused a landslide that killed 26 in Madison County, Montana.
The massive landslide in Lituya Bay, Alaska on July 9, 1958 caused a wave 1,700’ tall to wash away vegetation along the shores of the bay. Photo from U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey archives.
Oso, Washington slide now deadliest in U.S. history
Late reports on the evening of March 25th indicate that the death toll from the Oso, Washington slide is at least 20 and perahps 24. Confusion reigns about this at this hour. In any case, this would make this the single deadliest single landslide/mudslide event in U.S. history excluding volcanic, earthquake, dam collapse, or multiple area-wide events such as I listed above.
Christopher C. Burt
Updated: 5:05 AM GMT on March 26, 2014
By: weatherhistorian, 7:38 PM GMT on March 21, 2014
California Drought Update
The wet February and first week of March that brought some promise for drought relief to California is a distant memory now as two bone-dry weeks (which normally would have been among the wettest for the water season) have passed, and it now appears the rest of March will bring little respite. Here are some of the latest figures.
As most people know, the 2013 calendar year was the driest on record (since at least 1895) for California.
Precipitation rankings by state climate region for 2013. All but 2 of the 11 regions experienced their driest calendar year on record. Note how anomalous the precipitation for region 7 (Central Coast) was, the previous driest year beaten by over 100%. Graphic from California Department of Water Resources.
So far, this water season (which runs from July 1-June 30) is not likely to become the driest on record, and perhaps not even in the top three, but it is the lack of precipitation from Jan. 1-June 30, 2013 that has exacerbated the current drought situation.
The latest state drought monitor report indicates that the drought has intensified over just the past week, especially in the ‘Extreme Drought’ (D3-4) category where coverage of such has increased by almost 10%. NOAA.
Since March 1st, precipitation deficits to date have slightly improved in far northern California, stayed about the same in central California, and worsened in southern California. Below is a chart of water season (July 1- current) precipitation totals for select California cities (organized geographically from north to south) for the periods of July 1-March 1st and July 1-March 20th:
2013-2014 water season precipitation totals and deficits as of March 1st (top table) and March 20th (bottom table) for select California cities (arranged geographically north to south).
Although the cities in northern California seems to be doing better precipitation-wise, the snow pack situation is just the opposite. The northern Sierra/Trinity region is much worse off than the Central and Southern Sierra regions. This is because much of the heavy rainfall that fell in northern California during February and early March was the result of very warm storms and the snow levels were generally above 8,000’.
California snow pack as of March 19th. Map from California Department of Natural resources and satellite image courtesy of NOAA et al.
As I mentioned above, it is unlikely this will end up being the driest water season on record. In San Francisco, which has the longest precipitation record of any site in the state, it is unlikely to rank even in the top five of such with 8.68” already observed and another month or so of additional rainfall (hopefully) likely.
As of March 20, 2014 San Francisco (Downtown) has had 8.68” since its official water season began last July 1st. If normal rainfall occurs to the end of the season (June 30th) we should see an additional 3.22” of precipitation. Should this occur, then this season will not even rank in the top 10 driest on record.
The various computer forecast models are hinting at a pattern change beginning next Wednesday, March 26th, with the chance of a week of several storms of varying intensity hitting the state. Hopefully this will verify. Additional precipitation before the water season ends in June is critically important at this point.
Christopher C. Burt
By: weatherhistorian, 7:15 PM GMT on March 19, 2014
March Heat Wave in Central Europe
Just as the cold and snow has persisted through March in the eastern U.S. so has the unusual warmth in Europe. The record warm temperatures set at many locations earlier this month in France, Germany, and the Low Countries has now settled in over Switzerland, northern Italy, and other central European countries. Here are some details.
A bubble of high pressure centered over Switzerland has brought near all-time March heat to the country and surrounding nations. Map from WetterOnline.
The southern Alpine region has seen the most impressive temperature anomalies. Lugano, Switzerland reached 27.0°C (80.6°F) on March 18th, the 2nd warmest March temperature ever measured in the city. Aosta, Italy at 500 m (1500’) elevation and near Mt. Blanc (Europe’s highest mountain) soared to an incredible 30.0°C (86.0°F) as a result of local down sloping winds. Geneva reached 22.5°C (72.5°F) its warmest so early in the season but well short of its March record of (77°F). Geneva’s normal daily high temperature for this time of the year is 11.2°C (52.2°F). Other Swiss cities that set at least daily record highs include: Sion 22.5°C (72.5°F); Stabio 26.4°C (79.6°F); Locarno 26.3°C (79.3°F); and Grono 25.5°C (77.9°F).
Other high temperatures were observed aside from Switzerland on either March 17 or March 18th, with the highest by nation as follows:
Bosnia-Herzegovina: 29.2°C (84.6°F) at Zenica
Spain: 27.9°C (82.2°F) at Murcia
Slovenia: 27.0°C (80.6°F) at Cronomelj
France: 26.8°C (80.2°F) at Beziers-Vias
Bulgaria: 26.0°C (78.8°F at Varna
Austria: 24.3°C (75.7°) at Saint Andrae
Somewhere in there is the Eifel Tower. The warm and stagnant air mass that has settled over Western Europe for the past week resulted in a smog emergency in Paris for the past five days. Conditions improved yesterday (March 18th). Photo from Insideeevs.com
Cooler weather is forecast to push through Switzerland today and Thursday while the heat may build over southeastern Europe in places like Slovenia and Romania.
KUDOS: Thanks to Maximilianao Hererra for some of the above figures.
Christopher C. Burt
By: weatherhistorian, 8:05 PM GMT on March 17, 2014
Freak Hailstorm hits Asmara, Eritrea
Asmara, the capital and largest city in the African nation of Eritrea, was hit by a freak hail and rain storm on March 12th that reportedly caused hail to accumulate up to a meter (three feet) deep on portions of the city. Media reports claim this was the heaviest rainstorm to have ever been observed in the city.
Asmara is a large and relatively prosperous city of 649,000 inhabitants comfortably located in the highlands of interior Eritrea at an elevation of 2,325 m (7,628’).
Eritrea is located near the volatile horn of Africa and along the shore of the Red Sea with Asmara as its capital city.
Thanks to its altitude, the climate of Asmara is pleasant and relatively moist relative to lower elevations of the country and neighboring countries (which are home to some of the driest and hottest locations on earth). The average annual precipitation is 501 mm (19.73”) and temperatures range yearlong between 6°-26°C (43°-79°F). March is the beginning of their wet season and normally sees only about 12 mm (0.47”) of precipitation.
Climate table for Asmara, Eritrea. From Wikipedia.
Unfortunately, daily weather data for Asmara seems hard to come by despite the fact that it hosts an international airport. Climatologist Maximiliano Hererra informs me that the Eritrea Observatory (that used to compile climate data) no longer shares its records since Eritrean President Issias Afwerki took power in 1993, and the airport data is spotty as well. So we do not have any actual measurements to base the claim that “this was by far the biggest rainstorm in Asmara records” as some media outlets have stated. From Italian climate records maintained at Asmara from 1922-1939 and 1945-1952, the heaviest 24-hour rainfall reported was 2.60” (66 mm) in August (year not specified) and the heaviest March 24-hour rainfall was 1.00” (25.4 mm).
In any case, the storm apparently lasted just 90 minutes and rainfall was heavy enough to flood much of the downtown district and hail drifts (caused by water flushing the hail accumulations into low-lying areas) piled up to one meter (three feet) deep.
Here are some photos of the event from local media sources and video footage of the storm can be found here.
A couple of photos and stills from video footage of the hailstorm that hit Asmara, Eritrea last week. Sources all from local Asmara media sites.
Christopher C. Burt
By: weatherhistorian, 9:10 PM GMT on March 14, 2014
February 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary
February featured a number of extreme weather events. Among the most notable were the floods affecting the U.K., severe ice storms in Slovenia, heavy snowfalls along the shores of the Caspian Sea and in the Tokyo area, and bitter cold in the north-central portion of the U.S.
Below are some of the month’s highlights.
The biggest weather news stories of the month were the series of cold waves and snow/ice storms that plagued the eastern third of the nation. The Great Lakes reached their 2nd greatest ice cover since records for such began in 1973 and snow cover for the month was the 9th greatest (for February) in the 48-year long study of such by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab. Scranton, Pennsylvania had its snowiest February on record with a 29.3” (74.4 cm) total (former record 27.9”/70.9 cm in 1914) as did Billings, Montana with 37.0” (78 cm), some 30.8” above average.
A list of U.S. cities that have experienced one of their top ten coldest climatological (Dec-Feb) winters on record.
On the other hand, it was a near-record warm February in the Southwest and California where welcome rainfall helped ease the extreme drought conditions slightly. It has been the warmest winter (Dec-Feb) on record for Las Vegas and Tucson.
So overall nationwide, it was a colder than normal (but not much, ranking 37th out of 120 years of record) and precipitation was almost exactly normal (ranking 65th wettest out of 120 years).
Precipitation (top map) and temperature (bottom map) rankings for the U.S. (out of 120 years) in February. NOAA
The coldest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere during the past month was -60.1°C (-76.2°F) at Summit, Greenland on February 25th.
SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA
The most severe drought in four decades has impacted portions of southeastern Brazil straining the hydroelectric industry and causing large-scale crop failures. Sao Paulo endured its worst heat wave on record February 1-11 when temperatures exceeded 33°C (91°F) every day.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Paraguay, an all-time record 222 mm (8.74”) of rain inundated the capital city of Asuncion on February 27th.
It was a wild month weather-wise for Europe with massive flooding in the U.K., record warmth for Germany and other north-central regions, and a crippling ice and snowstorm in Slovenia and Italy (where floods occurred at lower elevations). Ice accretions reached over 7 mm (3”) in Slovenia.
An incredible ice storm impacted Slovenia on February 3-5 depositing accumulations of 7 cm (3”) of ice in and around Ljubljana. Photo from Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Arctic north saw temperatures rise as high as 6°C (42.8°F) in Norway’s Svalbard Islands while in Cologne and Frankfurt, Germany only one night saw temperatures drop below freezing. An unusual split of the polar vortex was responsible for the topsy-turvy weather.
An unusual split in the polar vortex in the northern hemisphere accounted for both the unusually cold weather in the north-central U.S. and warm weather in the Arctic region and northern Europe. This is what it looked like at one point in early February.
The U.K. was also unusually mild (1.5°C/2.7°F above normal) and exceptionally wet, the 4th wettest February on record. Severe flooding affected southern England details of which can be found in a blog I posted earlier. The warmest temperature observed in the U.K. during the month was 14.9°C (58.8°F) at Kew Gardens and at Heathrow Airport in London on February 24th and the coldest reading observed was -7.7°C (18.1°F) at Altnaharra, Scotland on February 17th. The greatest 24-hour rainfall was 125.6 mm (4.94”) at Altdearg House on the Isle of Skye on February 16-17.
It was the 4th wettest February on record for the U.K. as a whole and the 2nd wettest for southern England as this precipitation anomaly map for the month illustrates. U.K. Met Office, Crown copyright.
Torrential rainfall caused flooding and landslides in and around Bujumbura, Burundi on February 8-10 killing at least 50 people.
The hottest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere during the month was 42.0°C (107.6°F) at Abu Na’Ama, Sudan on February 28th.
A heavy snowfall impacted the southeastern shore of the Caspian Sea in Iran and Azerbaijan on February 3-7 depositing 60 cm (23.6”) of snow on Rasht, Iran and 95 cm (37.4”) on Lankaran, Azerbaijan. A bitter cold wave affected Central Asia in early February dropping temperatures to an all-time record low of -21.7°C (-7.1°F) at Termez, Uzbekistan on February 3rd.
Tokyo, Japan experienced two rare heavy snowfalls of 27 cm (10.6”) each on February 8-9 and February 14-15. The latter storm brought incredible amounts of snow (112 cm/44.0”) to Kofu and other Tokyo suburbs. Details of this event may be found in this blog I posted earlier.
An amazing 122 cm (44”) of snow fell on the low elevation city of Kofu, Japan February 14-15, by the far the greatest snow accumulation on record for the city and double the previous record (POR since 1894). Photo by Tatsumi Akita.
Earlier in February very warm temperatures were observed in Japan with a 25°C (77°F) reading observed at Miyazaki and even in South Korea the temperature rose to 22°C (71.6°F) at some locations. China also had a warm spell at this time with Shanghai hitting 25°C (77°F) and Fuzhou 28°C (82.4°F). All-time February warmth records were broken at many locations in eastern Siberia and Kamchatka between February 3-9, the most notable being the all-time February high of -12.5°C (9.5°F) at Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited place in the world. Other records can be found in this blog. Although it was unusually warm in eastern Siberia it got quite cold in central Siberia where the temperature fell to -59.4°C (-74.9°F) at Ekyuchchyu on February 4th.
Tropical Storm Kajiki killed three in the central Philippines in early February, the same region devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November.
Torrential rainfalls in the Indonesian portion of Papua resulted in floods that killed at least 11 around February 22-24. The deaths occurred in and around the provincial capital of Jayapura where 50 homes were destroyed.
Temperatures averaged near normal nationwide during February and precipitation was above normal. Adelaide experienced its wettest day in 45 years (and tied for 5th wettest on record) when 75.2 mm (2.96”) fell in 24 hours on February 13-14. A torrential rainstorm struck Canberra on the afternoon of February 19th dropping a month’s worth of rain (33.2 mm/1.31”) in just three hours. Other parts of the city received up to 86.4 mm (3.40”), as was measured at Torrens.
Temperature (top map) and precipitation (bottom map) deciles for Australia during the month of February. Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The hottest temperature measured in Australia, the southern hemisphere, and the world during February was 46.6°C (115.9°F) at Keith (Munkora), South Australia on February 2nd and the coldest -1.9°C (28.6°F) at Liawenee, Tasmania on February 23rd. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 389 mm (15.31”) at Nerada Alert, Queensland on February 3rd.
Temperatures were near normal and precipitation varied widely across New Zealand during February. It was dry in the western and central portions of the North Island (20% of normal, with Ohakune reporting no measurable precipitation whatsoever) whereas very wet in the eastern coastal sections of the North Island (up to 150% of average). On February 23rd a super cell thunderstorm produced two tornadoes in the Canterbury plains near Christchurch on the South Island. Hail the size of golf balls fell at Ashburton. The storms caused minor structural damage and no injuries were reported.
The warmest temperature observed during the month was 35.7°C (96.3°F) at Clyde, South Island on February 20th and the coldest -2.4°C (27.7°F) at Pukaki, South Island on February 23rd. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 108 mm (4.25”) at Milford Sound, South Island on February 21st.
The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during February was –61.2C (-78.2°F) recorded at Concordia on February 24th.
KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data and Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data.
Christopher C. Burt
By: weatherhistorian, 8:31 PM GMT on March 12, 2014
Record Early March Heat in Germany/Rare Heavy Rain in Egyptian Desert
There are two interesting global weather stories this week. Germany has just enjoyed its warmest early March temperatures on record while an exceptionally rare heavy rainstorm occurred in Luxor and Aswan, Egypt--two of the driest places on earth.
German March ‘heat wave’
On March 9th (last Sunday) Germany recorded its highest temperatures ever measured during the March 1-10 period of the month. Numerous cites broke their records for such, with Lippstadt leading the way at 23.7°C (74.7°F), the warmest temperature ever measured anywhere in Germany prior to March 10th. Unofficial readings of 24.4°C (75.9°F) were reported from Soest and 24.1°C (75.4°F) at Unna and Rietburg. Widespread temperatures above 20°C (68°F) were observed in North Rhine Westphalia and Lower Saxony (Germany’s west and northwest) and early spring flowers (daffodils, crocuses, etc..) are blooming even in northern Germany following what has been an exceptionally warm winter (the 4th warmest on record since 1881).
Germans enjoy a warm winter Sunday afternoon picnic in a park in Bonn, Germany. Photo by Denis Moller.
Official new records for the first third of March were set at many locations including:
Munster 22.4°C (72.3°F) former record 19.1°C (66.4°F)
Koln/Bonn 21.1°C (70.0°F) former record 19.8°C (67.6°F)
Dusseldorf 20.9°C (69.6°F) former record 20.2°C (68.4°F)
Aachen 20.8°C (69.4°F) former record 20.2°C (68.4°F) POR back to 1891
Hannover 20.2°C (68.4°F) former record 18.4°C (65.1°F)
Hamburg 20.0°C (68.0°F) former record 17.6°C (63.7°F) POR back to 1891
Bremen 19.5°C (67.1°F) former record 18.2°C (64.8°F) POR back to 1890
Kiel 19.3°C (66.7°F) former record 16.7°C (62.1F)
Bremerhaven 18.7°C (65.7°F) former record 16.5°C (61.7°F)
Helgoland 10.6°C (51.1°F) former record 10.5°C (50.9°F)
Map of maximum observed temperatures (C°) on Sunday March 9th in Germany. Those with stars around the figure are sites reporting their all-time record early March (March 1-10) high temperatures. Map from WetterOnline where a full list of record values observed may be found.
Egyptian Desert Rain
Extremely rare heavy rainfall has soaked portions of the Upper Egypt Nile River region, one of the driest places on earth. Luxor (home of the world-famous Valley of the Kings) picked up an astonishing 30 mm (1.18”) of rain on March 9-10, of which 21 mm (0.83”) fell in just the course of a few hours. The annual average rainfall for Luxor is just .04” (a little over 1 mm).
Climate data for Luxor. Note the paltry average annual rainfall of .04”, just over 1 mm. Only portions of Chile’s Atacama Desert are drier. Table from Wikipedia.
Aswan received 15 mm (0.59”) also on March 9-10 (Aswan’s average annual precipitation is 1.4 mm/.06”). It was the first measurable rainfall in Aswan since October 2012. The rainfall in Aswan and Luxor was accompanied by thunder and hail according to news reports. The last major flood disaster in the region occurred in early November 1994 when torrential rains in Luxor caused serious flooding and in Durunka (about 100 miles down river from Luxor) a flood caused a bridge to collapse on two fuel storage tanks which then exploded. The fiery flood that resulted killed over 500 in the city of 20,000.
KUDOS: Thanks to Michael Theusner of Klimahaus in Bremerhaven, Germany for the information on Germany’s heat wave and Maximiliano Herrera for the Egypt rainfall information.
Christopher C. Burt
Updated: 7:53 PM GMT on March 13, 2014
By: weatherhistorian, 9:10 PM GMT on March 10, 2014
The El Niño of 1997-1998
As Jeff Masters blogged on March 6th, NOAA has issued an El Niño watch for later this year with a 50% chance of an El Niño forming. The last major El Niño event was that of 1997-1998. Here’s a very brief summary of some highlights.
A graph of the Oceanic Niño Index between 1950-2014. The El Niño of 1997-1998 was the strongest in modern records. Table from Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services.Sorry about the poor resolution of this table (WU can only give me 720 horizontal dpi for blog graphics (to fit the screen), so visit Jan's web site for a full resolution of this chart (and more details).
Not all El Niño’s have the same affects globally but one place that is always adversely affected is Peru (where the term ‘El Niño’ was first used). The warming of the Eastern Pacific during an El Niño event always contributes to higher than normal rainfall in Peru, sometimes, as was the case in 1997-1998, catastrophically so. One location, Tumbes, in northwestern Peru, received 2,100 mm (82.7”) of precipitation between December 1997 and May 1998, including 730 mm (28.7”) in January alone. The normal rainfall for Tumbes between December-May is just 200 mm (8”). Flooding and mudslides killed over 200 in Peru and over 250 in Ecuador. The Peruvian government said that damage to the nation’s infrastructure cost US$2 billion. In September of 1997 Hurricane Linda formed off the coast of Mexico and developed into the strongest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone on record with sustained winds reaching 185 mph and a central barometric pressure as low as 900 mb (26.58”) on September 12th. A month later, Hurricane Pauline hit Mexico killing 250-400 people and dropping 686 mm (27.01”) of rainfall in 24 hours on the town of San Luis Actatlan, the 2nd heaviest rainfall recorded in Mexico as a result of a Pacific Hurricane. In the Western Pacific, three of the top 10 most intense typhoons on record formed (two of them simultaneously): Super Typhoon Joan (872 mb/25.75” on Oct. 19), ST Ivan (872 mb on Oct. 18), and ST Keith (878 mb/25.92”) on Nov. 2nd.
Pacific Ocean surface temperature anomalies at the time that the El Niño of 1997-1998 was at its peak strength on December 1st, 1997. NASA/JPL.
In the U.S., the most significant manifestation of the El Niño were the record rainfalls in California during the water season of 1997-1998. Santa Barbara received 21.74” of precipitation in February alone contributing to its wettest water season on record (July 1-June 30) with a 46.99” total. Other California cities that reported their wettest season on record included Bakersfield (14.66”), Fort Bragg (79.13”), Monterey (47.12”), and Santa Maria (32.56”).
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pacific, Indonesia endured one of its worst droughts on record and 1998 was one of the warmest years for much of East and Southeast Asia (Malaysia recorded its hottest temperature on record with a 40.1°C/104.2°F reading at Chuping on April 9th) and in Mongolia temperatures peaked at 42.2°C (108°F) during the summer of 1998.
In Africa, Kenya had one of its wettest years on record while Mozambique one of its driest. Floods in central Europe killed 55 in Poland and 60 in the Czech Republic.
A simplified map of how the El Niño of 1997-1998 affected weather events around the world. From Shrimp News.
Overall, the year 1998 became the warmest globally ever observed up to that time.
The 1997-1998 El Niño event, of course, was exceptionally strong and it does not (yet) appear that if an El Niño develops later this year it will be of such intensity. Also, weak or moderate El Niño’s have varying effects on global climate so, for instance, an El Niño next winter does not necessarily mean a wet water season for California.
REFERENCES: Some good popular material about the El Niño of 1997-1998 can be found in the March-April 1999 issue of Weatherwise magazine, the March 1999 issue of National Geographic, and the August 1998 issue of Popular Science.
Christopher C. Burt
Updated: 1:49 AM GMT on March 11, 2014
By: weatherhistorian, 8:24 PM GMT on March 07, 2014
’Once in a Hundred Year’ Storm Pounds Christchurch, New Zealand
A powerful extra-tropical storm sideswiped the coast of New Zealand’s South Island bringing gales and flooding to the city of Christchurch and the heaviest rainfall seen in almost 40 years.
A satellite image of the powerful storm swirling off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island on March 4th. NASA image.
The powerful storm pounded the Christchurch area between March 3-5 with wind gusts up to 119 km/h (74 mph) and rainfall of 151.6 mm (5.97”) as officially measured at Christchurch’s weather station. Of this amount 100 mm (3.94”) fell in just a single 24-hour period on March 4-5. The suburb of Lytelton received 160 mm (6.30”) in 24 hours and other suburbs reported storm totals of 170 mm (6.70”). The normal monthly rainfall for Christchurch in March is just 45 mm (1.77”).
New Zealand rainfall totals for the week ending March 7th. Christchurch is located next to the small peninsula jutting off the east coast of the South Island. As one can see, the heavy rainfall from the storm of March 3-5 was pretty well confined to that area. Map from NIWA, New Zealand’s climate agency.
Hundreds of homes and business’s were flooded and 5000 customers lost power in the city and suburbs (Christchurch’s population is around 360,000). The worst affected suburbs were St. Albans, Avondale, New Brighton, and Woolston.
Alternative transport is used to navigate the flooded streets of Heathcote Valley, a suburb just southeast of Christchurch and near Lytelton where the heaviest rainfall occurred. Photo by Deon Swiggs.
An earthquake devastated Christchurch just three years ago on February 22, 2011 that resulted in the deaths of 185. Apparently some of the city’s streets dropped 50 cm (20”) during the quake and this, some residents claim, has exacerbated some of the recent flooding in some neighborhoods.
Christopher C. Burt
Updated: 10:33 PM GMT on March 07, 2014
By: weatherhistorian, 9:28 PM GMT on March 05, 2014
Japanese Record Snowfalls
February was an interesting month for Japan snow-wise. A couple of rare heavy snowfalls struck the greater Tokyo area with one city, Kofu, smashing its all-time snow depth record with 114 cm/44.9” accumulating by February 15th. Details about this storm can be found here. However, the normally very snowy areas on the west coast of Honshu Island have averaged much below normal (as little as 34% of normal snowfall in some areas). Here is a summary of Japan’s all-time snow records.
This blog should be considered a guest blog by Japanese climate researcher Yusuke Uemura who has provided the data listed below. He includes both official data collected by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and unofficial data collected primarily by the Japan National Railway network that maintained detailed snowfall records at many of their stations.
Snow tourism is a big deal in Japan and this map, produced by Japan-Guide.com, shows some of the popular snow destinations and also includes the locations for a few of the sites listed below.
First of all, here is a list of the snowiest official (JMA) and unofficial cities and locations in Japan:
The snowiest city with a population over one million:
Sapporo city, prefecture of Hokkaido (population 1.9 million, elevation of the observatory 17m). Annual Average Snowfall 597 cm/235.0” (1981-2010), annual snowfall record 680 cm/267.7” (1996), monthly snowfall record 273 cm/107.5” (1981/01), snow depth record 169 cm/66.5” (1939/2/13).
The snowiest city with a population over 300,000, as well as the snowiest prefectural capital in Japan:
Aomori city, prefecture of Aomori (population 300,000 elevation of the observatory 3m). Annual Average Snowfall 669 cm/263.4” (1981-2010), annual snowfall record 1263 cm/497.2” (1986), monthly snowfall record 527 cm/207.4” (1977/01), snow depth record 209 cm/82.3” (1945/2/21)
The snowiest city with a population over 50,000:
Tokamachi city, prefecture of Nigata (population 50,000, elevation of the observatory 170m). The city is located in the heart of "snow country" as it is called in Japan. Annual Average Snowfall 1169 cm/460.2” (1981-2010), annual snowfall record 2159 cm/850.0” (1987), monthly snowfall record 660 cm/259.8” (1987/01), snow depth record 391 cm/153.9” (1981/1/23). JMA records began in 1980
The snowiest town with a population over 10,000:
Tsunan town, prefecture of Nigata (population 10,000, elevation of the observatory 452m). Annual Average Snowfall 1349 cm/531.1” (1989-2010), annual snowfall record 2029 cm/798.8” (2006), monthly snowfall record 673 cm/265.0” (2005/12), snow depth record 416 cm/163.8” (2006/2/5). JMA records began in 1989.
The snowiest official JMA site:
Sukayu; a hot springs resort surrounded by mountains in the prefecture of Aomori (northern Honshu Island). Although it has an official JMA meteorological observatory, Sukayu is not a town but an "onsen (hot spring)" resort with hotels and "ryokan". They’re few, if any, private residences (somewhat like the U.S.A.’s snowiest location Paradise Ranger Station on Mt. Rainer in Washington State). Annual Average Snowfall 1764 cm/694.5” (1981-2000), annual snowfall record 2376 cm/935.4” (1996), monthly snowfall record 561 cm/220.9” (1988/02), snow depth record 523 cm/205.9” (2013/2/24). JMA records began in 1979
An interesting photo of Illiyama, Nagano Prefecture following a snowstorm that dropped 2.45 m (13 feet) of snow on the town in early March 2006. Photo Getty.
Unofficial snowiest locations in Japan:
Myoko-kogen town, prefecture of Nigata (population 7,000, no JMA official observatory). Snowfall is measured by the prefecture and data from 1995 is available here in Japanese. Annual Average Snowfall 1507 cm/593.3” (1995-2012), annual snowfall record 2324 cm/915.0” (2012), monthly snowfall record 1024 cm/403.1” (2012/01), snow depth record 390 cm/153.6” (2012/2/3).
Matsunoyama town, prefecture of Nigata (population 3,000, no JMA official observatory). A town that is allegedly snowier than Myoko-kogen town. The prefecture measures snowfall but the lack of some data makes the comparison difficult. In January 2011, monthly snowfall reached 1160 cm/456.7”.
The famous Yuki-no-Otani snow canyon along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route that connects the Japanese municipalities of Tateyama and Omachi. Photographer not identified, from buzzhunt.com
Greatest Annual and 24-hour Snowfalls Measured by Japan National Railways
During the season of 1944-1945, one of the snowiest in modern Japanese records history, the Japan National Railway conducted a survey of each of its stations where snowfall was abundant in the Japanese Alps region of Nigata Prefecture. Some astonishing figures were recorded:
3,555 cm/1,480” at Oshirakawa Station, Uonuma
3,280 cm/1,291” at Echigo-yuzawa Station, Yuzawa
3,126 cm/ 1,231” at Irihirose Station, Uonuma,
3,090 cm/1,216” at Sekiyama Station, Myoko,
3,010 cm/1,185” at Tsuchitaru Station, Yuzawa
If one assumes this information was accurate, then all of the above sites measured greater accumulations than the North American record of 1,140”/2,896 cm at Mt. Baker, Washington during the season of 1998-1999.
The rail network also measured one 24-hour snowfall that was greater than the official North American record of 75.8”/192.5 cm (Silver Lake, Colorado on April 14-15, 1921) when 210 cm/82.7” accumulated at Sekiyama Station, Nigata Prefecture on January 17, 1946.
Oshirakawa Station averaged 1950 cm/767.7" of seasonal snowfall during the POR of 1969-1998. The snowiest single season was that of 1980-1981 when 3317 cm/1305.9" accumulated including an amazing 1546 cm/608.7" in the month of January 1981 alone!
The greatest 24-hour snowfall and snow depth ever measured on earth occurred in February 1927 when 230 cm/90.6” fell at Mt. Ibuki, Shiga Prefecture on February 14, 1927. This storm brought the snow depth at the site to a world-record 465.4”.
KUDOS: Yusuke Uemura for all of the above information.
Christopher C. Burt
Updated: 9:39 AM GMT on February 22, 2017
By: weatherhistorian, 8:50 PM GMT on March 03, 2014
Rain Makes Dent in California Drought/Record Cold Winter Statistics
A deep Pacific low-pressure system cruised the California coastline this past weekend pounding southern California with heavy rain, the first such in over a year. The entire state also saw decent rainfall as well. How has this storm changed the precipitation deficits and reservoir levels? Also, the statistics are in for the climatological winter of 2013-2014. Here is a list of cities that endured their top 10 coldest such on record.
Although the entire state saw some much needed precipitation this past weekend, it was the southern third that was most affected. Over 14” of rain fell in a couple of locations in the San Bernardino Mountains north of Los Angeles and even 4.52” fell in Downtown L.A.: more rainfall in three days then had accumulated in the 14 months preceding this storm, and changing their water season precipitation deficit from 11% of normal last week to 50% now! Here are some of the statistics for the Los Angeles area:
Table/graphic from NWS-Los Angeles.
In central California the heaviest rainfall was in the St. Lucia Mountains near Big Sur where 12.99” of rainfall was measured at Mining Ridge. Places north of Monterey received modest amounts of precipitation such as the 2.04” in downtown San Francisco and 3.73” in Redding (in the northern end of the Sacramento Valley). Sacramento itself picked up 1.49”. Here is a comparison of how the storm affected the precipitation deficits at major cities across the state (arranged geographically from north to south).
California Seasonal Precipitation (July 1-February 25th and March 2nd)
Comparison of seasonal precipitation prior to the storm (as of February 25th top table) to after the storm (as of March 2nd bottom table). As one can see, the seasonal precipitation deficit is still under 50% of normal for this time of the year.
So how has this storm impacted the drought in California? There is no question this event was a game changer for the southern portion of California, especially the Los Angeles Area. The wild fire threat has at last been eliminated for the time being and local reservoirs have been partially refreshed, let alone the greening of the previously brown and dusty landscape. Unfortunately, the storm was not a big snow producer in the Sierra (from which the state receives one-third of its water supply). Also, rainfall in northern California was not particularly impressive, and that is where the state’s big reservoirs are located. In fact, comparing reservoir levels between February 25th and March 2nd, we can see little has changed:
Comparison of California reservoir levels pre-storm (top) and post-storm (bottom). Maps from California Department of Water Resources.
The good news is that a series of wet storms are forecast to hit central and northern California this week beginning today (Monday). Very heavy rain amounts are possible in the far north of the state.
One of the Coldest Winters on Record for the Upper Midwest
A map of average temperature departures from normal for the winter of 2013-2014 in the Upper Midwest Region. MRCC graphic.
As everyone knows, it has been bitterly cold and snowy for much of the Upper Midwest this winter. In fact, for several locations it was the coldest climatological (December-February) winter on record. Here is a list of cities that endured their ‘Top 10 Coldest on Record’ winter. All of these sites have POR’s (period of records) of at least 100 years or longer:
March is starting off as the coldest first such week on record since at least 1962. Green Bay, Wisconsin hit -24° this morning (March 3rd), its 2nd coldest March temperature on record (POR since 1886). Flint, Michigan hit -16°, its coldest March temperature on record (previous record was -12°) however the POR for Flint only goes back to 1921. Billings, Montana reached -21° on Sunday morning (March 2nd), its coldest March temperature on record (previous March record was -19° on March 6 and 7 in 1951 (this is a bit suspicious however, and probably based on just the current site rather than the entire historical record. Many coldest so-late-in-season temperature records have also been set and more are likely to occur elsewhere on Tuesday morning this week.
Christopher C. Burt
Updated: 1:16 AM GMT on March 04, 2014
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.
Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.