Weather Extremes

UPDATE June 3: Record Heat Wave in Northeast Asia

By: weatherhistorian, 7:27 PM GMT on May 30, 2014

UPDATE: June 3: Record Heat Wave in Northeast Asia

The unprecedented early summer heat wave that affected northeastern China, Mongolia, and the Koreas on May 26-31 has shifted eastward to center over Japan since June 1st and has brought all-time record heat to the northern island of Hokkaido. On June 3rd a reading of 37.8°C (100.0°F) was recorded at Komaba tying Hokkaido’s all-time heat record (for any month) also set at Obihiro on July 12, 1924. At least four heat-related fatalities have been reported and 1,600 hospitalizations due to heat exhaustion.

Twelve official JMA sites on Hokkaido Island have measured their all-time record high temperatures (for any month) on June 2-3. Omu reached 35.1°C (95.2°F), an all-time record, and some 36°F above its normal high for June 3rd of 14.9°C (58.8°F). Monbetsu Airport also recorded an all-time record of 35.2°C (95.4°F) as did Shikaoi with 36.0°C (96.8°F). Sapporo, the island’s principal city, recorded an all-time June monthly record with 32.9°C (91.2°F) surpassing the previous June record of 31.9°C (89.4°F) set on June 29, 1948. Sapporo has a POR dating back to 1877.

Residents of Tokyo shade themselves from the 33.1°C (91.6°F) temperature measured in the city on Sunday June 1st. Photo AFP.

A dome of high pressure over northeastern China has resulted in some remarkable temperatures for the region the past few days. Beijing saw its May monthly record high temperature shattered on Thursday when a reading of 40.2°C (104.4°F) was measured, only to see that figure in turn overtaken by a 41.1°C (106.0F) on Friday May 30th. The previous May record for Beijing was 38.3°C (100.9°F) on May 14, 1968. Beijing’s all-time record high remains a 42.6°C (108.7°F) temperature measured in June 1942. Tianjin reached 40.5°C (104.9°F) on May 30th which ties its all-time heat record for any month.

It has been an exceptionally warm May in Beijing with the average maximum temperature of 29.2°C (84.6°F) about 3°C (5.4°F) above the average of 26.2°C (79.2°F). Climate table from OGIMET.

In the city of Shijiazhuang, 180 miles southwest of Beijing, the temperature peaked at 42.8°C (109.0°F) on May 30th, just short of the city’s all-time (any month) record of 42.9°C (109.2°F) set on July 15, 2002. This is almost as warm as what may be the all-time May record for China of 43.6°C (110.5°F) set in Turpan on May 28-29, 1965 according to climatologist Maximilliano Herrera. However, the Turpan Depression, which is a thousand miles west of Shijiazhuang, is the ‘Death Valley’ of the nation and scorching temperatures in May are not unusual. Bught, China smashed its all-time heat record (for any month) with a 38.0°C (100.4°F) reading on May 31st (old record was 36.8°C/98.2°F set on July 24, 2001). Also, Tongliao broke its all-time heat record with 39.4°C (102.9°F) on My 31st (previous record 39.1°C/102.4°F on two occassions in 1951 and 2007).

The heat has been notable in the Koreas as well. In South Korea the temperature peaked at 37.4°C (99.3°F) at Taegu on May 31st and in North Korea 36.1°C (97.0°F) at Hamheung on May 29th. The South Korean figure was an all-time national record for the month of May surpassing the previous record of 37.0°C (98.6°F) set at Jinju on May 25, 2000.

Mongolia came close to setting its all-time May heat record with a 36.7°C (98.1°F) temperature at Khalkh Gol on May 31st. The May record of 37.0°C (98.6°F) set at Sainshand on May 26, 1974 still stands.

In Siberia, a reading of 37.2°C (99.0°F) was registered at Borzja on May 31st. It is difficult to know if this was a record May record for any Siberian location.

KUDOS: Maximiliano Herrera for historical Chinese temperature records and Yusuke Uemura for Japanese temperature records..

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat Flood

Updated: 9:55 PM GMT on June 03, 2014


Eastern Pacific Hurricanes: An Historical Perspective

By: weatherhistorian, 7:34 PM GMT on May 27, 2014

Eastern Pacific Hurricanes: An Historical Perspective

As Jeff Masters noted in his blog today (May 27th) , Hurricane Amanda, the first tropical storm of the season in either the Eastern Pacific or Atlantic Ocean Basins, developed into the strongest such storm ever observed in the modern era during the month of May when it attained its peak intensity Sunday morning, May 25th, with a central pressure of 932 mb (27.52”) and sustained winds of 155 mph, just short of Category 5 status. Here is a brief historical review of Eastern Pacific tropical storms.

In a typical season (May-November) about 18 tropical storms form each year in the Eastern Pacific region of which, on average, nine reach hurricane strength.

Tropical storm paths in the Eastern Pacific for the period of 1980-2005. As can be seen the vast majority of these storms never make landfall and form and dissipate in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean between Mexico and Hawaii. Only rarely do one of these come ashore as major CAT 3 hurricane. Map from Wikimedia Commons.

Here are some Eastern Pacific Tropical Storm superlatives:

Most Intense Eastern Pacific Hurricane

Hurricane Linda was the most intense tropical storm ever observed in the Eastern Pacific region. The storm formed on Sept. 9, 1997 and reached its peak intensity on Sept. 12th when its central pressure fell to 902 mb (26.58”). Its maximum sustained winds were estimated to have reached 185mph at this time. The storm never made landfall aside from passing over the uninhabited island of Socorro, several hundred miles south of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

A satellite image of Hurricane Linda when she was at her peak on Sept. 12, 1997 with sustained winds estimated at 185 mph and a central pressure of 902 mb (26.58”), the lowest such observed in the modern satellite era. Image from NOAA.

Here is a list of the ten most intense Eastern Pacific hurricanes on record as determined by their lowest estimated central pressures since the beginning of the satellite era in the early 1970s:

Deadliest Eastern Pacific Hurricane

The unnamed 15th tropical storm of the season of 1959 came ashore on Mexico’s central Pacific coastline near Manzanillo as a category 4 hurricane on Oct. 27th. Wind gusts of 155 mph were measured at this location. An estimated 1,500-2,000 deaths were attributed to the storm in Colima and Jalisco States with 40% of all the structures in Manzanillo destroyed.

Below is a list of the ten deadliest hurricanes yet recorded in the Eastern Pacific region. All of these occurred in Mexico:

Costliest Eastern Pacific Hurricanes

Hurricane Pauline caused $10.3 billion in damages (inflation adjusted 2013 dollars) in the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero when the storm came ashore there on Oct 9, 1997. As many as 400 died as a result of this storm. Hurricane Manuel, which also pounded roughly the same part of Mexico last year on September 13-19 (2013) caused an estimated $4.2 billion in damages and resulted in fatalities variously published as between 123 and 169, mostly the result of mudslides.

Mud and landslides caused the majority of the fatalities associated with Hurricane Manuel when it struck the west coast of Mexico last September. The region around Acapulco (depicted above) in Guerrero State was especially hard hit. Photo by Claudio Vargas/Getty Images.

Hawaii’s Strongest Tropical Storm

One of the costliest Eastern Pacific hurricanes, and the strongest ever to strike Hawaii, was Hurricane Iniki that slammed into the island of Kauai on Sept. 11, 1992 with sustained winds of 145 mph (see below). Damage from the storm was estimated at $3.2 billion (2013 inflation adjusted dollars) and 6 deaths were reported. Iniki also holds the Eastern Pacific record for lowest pressure measured at landfall with a 945mb (27.91”) reading as the storm came ashore on Kauai.

Highest Wind Speed Measured on Land During an Eastern Pacific Hurricane

Hurricane Iniki is also reputed to have produced the highest measured wind speeds over land during any Eastern Tropical storm when it struck Kauai, Hawaii on Sept. 11, 1992 with 145 mph sustained winds measured.

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, “The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 175 mph (280 km/h). The highest recorded wind speed from Hurricane Iniki was a 227 mph (365 km/h) reading from the Navy's Makaha Ridge radar station. That remarkable figure was recorded at a digital weather station whose wind gauging equipment blew off after taking the measurement during the storm.”

This remarkable claim is disputed of course. Dr. George Pararas-Carayannis writes the following on his web site featuring Hurricane Iniki, “The maximum of 227 mph reported from the Navy Radar Site at Makaha Ridge has been depicted as an anomaly due to improper instrument calibration; therefore unrealistic. I do not entirely agree with that. It may be possible to achieve such wind speeds from funneling (venturi) effects.”

Hurricane Iniki as she ripped through Lihue, Kauai on Sept. 11, 1992. Photo by Bruce Asato, courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser.

The unnamed deadliest Eastern Pacific hurricane of 1959 is said to have had sustained winds of 160 mph when it made landfall near Manzanillo, Colima State in Mexico on October 27-28, 1959. Hurricane Kenna had sustained winds estimated at 140-150 mph when it struck the Mexican coast near San Blas on October 25, 2002.

Earliest and Latest Tropical Storms to form in the Eastern Pacific

The earliest tropical storm to form in the Eastern Pacific was TS Alma on May 14, 1990. This was tied by TS One-E again on May 14th in 1996. The latest storm on record was TS Winnie, which survived as such until December 7, 1983. These dates only include the satellite era, since prior to then little was known about tropical storms that formed and dissipated over the open waters of the Eastern Pacific.

Heaviest Rainfall Totals Caused by Eastern Pacific Tropical Storms

Hurricane Juliette dumped 39.80” at Cuadano, Santiago in Mexico’s Baja from Oct. 1-3, 2001. In Hawaii, Hurricane Hiki in 1950 is reputed to have dropped 52.00” of rain at Kanalohuluhulu Ranger Station, Kauai between Aug. 14-18 of that year. More than this may have actually fallen since the 24”-capacity rain gauge was found overflowing when checked on both Aug. 15th and 16th. This is the greatest amount of rainfall ever attributed to a tropical storm event in the United States.

California and Tropical Storms

Ever so rarely, a tropical storm that forms in the Eastern Pacific maintains its strength to make landfall in California. The deadliest such was a storm that struck the southern portion of the state on September 25, 1939 making landfall near Long Beach. Flooding from the storm resulted in 45 fatalities in the southern California area. An even more powerful tropical storm is reputed to have hit southern California in October 1858, but little is known about the event.

It is a bit ominous that the first tropical storm of this year, Amanda, has achieved historical status as being the most powerful to form in the Eastern Pacific so early in the season. Hopefully, this was just a fluke and not a harbinger of things to come.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Hurricane

Updated: 8:17 PM GMT on May 27, 2014


Texas Drought Relief

By: weatherhistorian, 7:20 PM GMT on May 23, 2014

Texas Drought Relief

The heaviest rains to fall in much of northwest and central Texas in 8-10 months will bring respite to the drought-weary region. More heavy rainfall is expected this weekend. Here are some details.

The latest drought monitor report for Texas issued on May 22nd, shows the portions of the state that are currently experiencing D4 (Exceptional) drought conditions. Relief is on the way for most of these areas. NOAA.

A slow moving deep trough centered over the Great Basin is funneling a plume of moisture up and over West Texas from Mexico and the Pacific. This will result in several rounds of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms for the region over this coming weekend. Rainfall totals for much of western and northern Texas are expected to range in from 1”-4” by next Monday. Heavy rain has already occurred in much of the area the past 48 hours (as of 2 p.m. Friday, May 23rd).

Amarillo had only seen 1.16” of precipitation for the entire year (since January 1st) as of May 20th which was around 5” below normal to date. Over the past two days (May 21-22) the city has picked up an additional 1.42”, their biggest rainstorm since at least last August (2013).

Lubbock had a meager 0.90” since January 1st as of May 20th until a flooding 1.80” fell Thursday-Friday, May 22-23. This was their first 1”+ rainfall since last October. Areas around Lubbock have received even greater amounts resulting in flash flooding. A MESONET site one mile southeast of Ralls (which is 15 miles east of Lubbock) measured 3.69” of precipitation in the past 24 hours.

San Angelo is still on track for its driest year-to-date on record with only 0.85” so far since January 1st (which is 6” below average). No rainfall has yet fallen at the airport site but that is likely to change today and over the weekend. The city’s last day with a 1”+ rainfall was on September 20, 2013. Forecasts call for 2”-3” of rain in San Angelo over the weekend.

One of the cities worst hit by the drought this year is Wichita Falls and, unfortunately, they may be too far east to received any substantial rainfall from this weather system.

Weather Underground precipitation forecast map for late Friday, May 23rd outlines the portions of Texas that have the best chance for thunderstorms and rainfall. This pattern will remain pretty much the same for the entire Memorial Day weekend. Weather Underground.

I’ll update precipitation totals over the weekend as conditions warrant.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Drought


UPDATE MAY 21: Extreme Heat, Floods Strike Eastern Europe

By: weatherhistorian, 7:18 PM GMT on May 20, 2014

UPDATE MAY 21: Extreme Heat, Floods Strike Eastern Europe

As Jeff Masters posted in a blog Monday the worst flooding in a century has occurred in Bosnia and Serbia this past week. At the same time, a record May heat wave has affected Estonia, Finland, Belarus, and northwestern Russia. Here are some details.

Balkan Floods

Heavy rainfall began falling in the Balkans on May 14th and continued through the 17th. Some local precipitation reports for this period included 245 mm (9.65”) at Tuzla in Bosnia, 219 mm (8.62”) at Loznica, Serbia and 190 mm (7.48”) in Belgrade, Serbia. Belgrade also experienced a 151 mm (5.94”) fall during a thunderstorm on May 4th, so their May monthly precipitation has already exceeded 370 mm (14.57”). For perspective, Belgrade’s normal May rainfall total is 74 mm (2.91”). The ensuing floods have now destroyed an astonishing 100,000 homes and businesses as well as at least 230 schools and hospitals according to latest press reports. Given the extent of the floods it is fortunate that only 43 flood-related fatalities have been reported so far. Some 2,000 landslides have also occurred in the region.

Croatia as well has been affected by wide-scale flooding as this aerial photo of a church in Gunja, eastern Croatia illustrates. Photo by Davor Javorovic/AP.

Heat in Estonia, Russia, Finland

The same high-amplitude jet stream pattern that caused the low-pressure system bringing all the rainfall to the Balkans has also been responsible for one of the most remarkable early season heat waves on record in portions of Russia, Finland, Estonia, Belarus, and Latvia.

500 mb height anomaly for May 15-17 that illustrates the low over the Balkans responsible for the flooding and the ridge that developed overrunning the top of the low and bringing record early season heat to northern Europe. Map from NOAA/ESRL.

An all-time national monthly heat record was set in Estonia on Monday, May 19th when the temperature peaked at 33.1°C (91.6°F) at Kunda. This figure obliterated the previous highest observed May temperature in the country of 31.2°C (88.2°F) set at Pjanryi in May 2007. The capital city of Estonia, Tallinn, broke its May monthly heat record as well with 31.4°C (88.5°F) reading (previous record was 29.7°C/85.5°F on May 26, 1958).

A map of maximum temperatures across northern Europe on Monday, May 19th. It would appear that the point maximum was a 34.1°C (93.4°F) at the town of Holm in far western Russia and this would be an all-time heat record for the site beating out their previous record (for any month) of 33.9°C, although the POR for this site is not clear . Sorry, if this map is difficult to read! Map provided by Michael Theusner of Klimahaus, Germany.

Finland came close to breaking its May national heat record with a 30.8°C (87.4°F) reading at Heinola on Monday. The old record of 31.0°C (87.8°F), set at Lapinjarvi on May 30 and 31, 1995 and also at Toukkokku, still stands. Helsinki Airport broke its monthly May heat record with 29.0°C/84.2°F (previous record 28.8°C/83.8°F) although the downtown Kaisoniemi Observatory site fell short of their May record with a 29.6°C (85.3°F) reading.

St. Petersburg, Russia (POR since 1881) smashed its all-time May heat record with an amazing 33.0°C (91.4°F) also on Monday (previous May monthly record was 30.9°C/87.6°F). There was a good chance that this figure would have been surpassed today (May 20th) since the noon observation was already standing at 32.0°C (89.6°F) however clouds moved in during the early afternoon and the high temperature for May 20th peaked at 32.5°C (90.5°F).

The top temperature figures for Latvia and Belarus stood at 31.5°C (88.7°F) at Vitebsk in Belarus and 30.0°C (86.0°F) in Latvia respectively. Neither were national records. The normal daily maximum temperatures for this time of year in the entire region affected by the heat wave should range between 15°-20°C (59°-68°F).

UPDATE MAY 21 Over 500 monthly heat records were set in Russia on May 20th. Some of the more significant include the following:

Petrokrepost: 34.4°C (93.9°F)

Medvezegorsk: 33.1°C (91.6°F) This site is located at 62° 55’ N latitude and the temperature was the 2nd hottest ever measured (since POR began in 1949) for any month and just 0.4°C (0.7°F) from the all-time record hottest ever recorded (for any month).

Arkhangelsk: 31.7°C (89.1°F) This site has a POR back to 1881 and is located close to the Arctic Circle at 64° 34’ N latitude.

KUDOS: Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera and Michael Theusner for European heat record data and Stu Ostro at TWC for mb heights map.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat Flood

Updated: 6:01 PM GMT on May 21, 2014


April 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By: weatherhistorian, 9:33 PM GMT on May 16, 2014

April 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

April featured disastrous floods in the Solomon Islands and Afghanistan (where a landslide on May 2nd killed as many as 2,700). Unusual warmth persisted in much of Europe and southern China while more cold and snow continued in the eastern half of the U.S. A violent tornado outbreak hit the U.S. Midwest and Southeast late in the month and a strong tropical cyclone pounded Queensland, Australia. Preliminary NASA data indicates that this past April was globally the 2nd warmest on record (since 1880).

Below are some of the month’s highlights.

Global temperature anomalies ( in C°) for the past April. According to NASA, it was the 2nd warmest April on record since 1880. NASA map.


After a quiet start to the tornado season, a violent tornado outbreak occurred on April 27-29 in the Midwest and Southeast. Some 38 tornadoes were reported resulting in 32 deaths, mostly in Arkansas and Mississippi. The single deadliest tornado was an EF-4 that roared across Pulaski and White Counties in Arkansas killing 15.

EF-4 tornado damage at Mayflower, Arkansas where 15 people were killed in and around the town by the storm on April 27th. Photo from NASA Earth Observatory web site.

The same storm system entrained a deep plume of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico resulting in an amazing rainstorm in the Mobile, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida area. Pensacola saw 20.47” (520 mm) of rainfall over a 24-hour period on April 29-30 (including 5.68”/144 mm in just one hour on the night of April 29th) and an all-time calendar day rainfall record of 15.55” (395 mm) on April 29th. The storm punctuated what became the wettest single month in the city’s records (since 1879) with a total of 29.53” (750 mm). Mobile picked up 11.24” (285 mm) on April 29th, its 3rd greatest calendar day rainfall (since 1871) and making this the wettest April on record with a 18.09” (459 mm) total.

Nationwide, precipitation and temperatures averaged close to normal although the long cold winter persisted in the Upper Great Lakes region with more snow and cold whereas drought conditions worsened in the Southern Plains.

Temperature (top map) and precipitation (bottom map) rankings for April in the contiguous U.S. For the first time in a long while no single state ranked among the top 10 coldest or warmest month in question on record. Wisconsin had its 2nd wettest April on record. NCDC maps.


A devastating wild fire, fanned by hot dry down-slope winds (akin to the Santa Ana winds of California) struck Valparaiso, Chile on April 12-16 resulting in the deaths of 15 and destruction of at least 2,500 homes. 11,000 were left homeless by the blaze.

The wild fire in Valparaiso as it was beginning on April 12th. The blaze killed 15 and burned 2,500 homes to the ground. Photo by Alberto Miranda/Getty Images.

Drought in portions of southern Brazil worsened, with Sao Paulo especially hard hit as its main reservoir shrank to its lowest level on record.

In Argentina, a spell of very hot weather in early April was followed by severe thunderstorms and hailstorms on April 7-8. The resulting floods in the Neuquen region were said to be the worst in 40 years.


April was generally another warm month across most of Western Europe although a sharp mid-month cold wave brought winter-like conditions to portions of Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe. Snow fell at mid-level elevations including Sarajevo in Bosnia and, at higher elevations, the snowfall was the greatest observed for the entire winter (in the Tattra and Carpathian Mountains). In the European portion of Russia some late season cold records were set, such as the -3.7°C (25.3°F) reading at Volgograd on April 26th.

April was the 4th warmest such on record for Germany (since 1871) according to DWD data with temperatures averaging 3.5°C (6.3°F) above normal. For the entire December-April period it has been the 2nd warmest such period observed (with only Dec-Apr 2006-2007 warmer). The warmest temperature during the month was a 26.6°C (79.9°F) reading at Bad Kreuznach on April 25th and the coldest -16.2°C (2.8°F) on April 16th on Zugspitze (Germany’s highest mountain). The coldest low elevation reading was -6.4°C (20.5°F) at Deutschneudorf-Bruderwiese on April 17th. The maximum calendar day precipitation was 73.7 mm (2.90”) at Coburg, Bavaria on April 26th (61 mm/2.40” of this fell in just a three hour period).

In the U.K. April was tied for its 3rd warmest April on record (since 1910) with a +1.8°C (+3.2°F) departure from normal temperature. Rainfall was close to average nationwide. The warmest observed temperature during the month was 22.0°C (71.6°F) at Aviemore, Inverness-shire on April 28th and the coldest -5.2°C (22.6°F) at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire on April 20th. The greatest 24-hour rainfall observed was 46.0 mm (1.81”) at Achfary, Sutherland on April 9-10.


Some extreme heat was experienced during April in West Africa. The temperature at Linguere, Senegal peaked at 47.0°C (116.6°F) on April 18th, which was the hottest temperature measured on earth for the month and just short of the all-time April monthly record for Africa of 48.1°C (118.6°F) set at Kayes, Mali some years ago. Nearby Senegal, in Gambia, the temperature reached 45.0°C (113.0°F) at Fatoto on April 4th, which was just short of the Gambian all-time national heat record of 45.5°C (113.9°F) set at Basse Santa Su in 2009. Burkino Faso also saw near record heat with a 45.6°C (114.1°F) reading at Dori on April 17th.


One of the biggest weather-related stories of the month was the floods and landslides in Afghanistan. Flash floods resulted in the deaths of at least 100 in the northern provinces in late April and the heavy rains culminated with a devastating landslide in the Argo District of Badakhshan Province (this is in the far northeastern Afghan Pamir region) on May 2nd killing an estimated 2,000-3,000. I’ll have more about this event in my May summary.

Heavy April rains in Afghanistan culminated in the deadly landslide at the village of Abe Barik in Badakhshan Province. At least 2,000 and perhaps as many as 3,000 perished. Photo credit RSOE.

Siberia saw some wild extremes of temperature ranging from the coldest reading measured in the northern hemisphere for the month at Ekyuchchyu with -51.8°C (-61.2°F) on April 1st in northern Siberia to a 28.7°C (83.7°F) reading at Chemal, Altai Republic in southern Siberia also during the first week of April.

During the period of April 21-30 one of the worst April heat waves on record affected Yunnan Province in southern China. The temperature at Yuanjiang hit 42.0°C (107.6°F), just missing the Chinese national April heat record of 42.2°C (108.0°F) also set at Yuanjiang but on April 25, 1958. The same period (April 21-30) also saw record heat along the coastal shores of Bangladesh between Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar. All-time heat records (for any month) were set at Chittagong Airport with 39.6°C (103.3°F) and Sylhet with 39.2°C (102.6°F).


Temperature and precipitation were, on a nationwide basis, close to normal during April. However, there was a wide range of extremes with a large portion of Queensland seeing its warmest April on record (overall it was Queensland’s 2nd warmest April on record) and a large portion of South Australia seeing its wettest such (overall the 3rd wettest for the entire state). Tropical Cyclone Ita pounded Queensland on April 12-13 and was the strongest tropical storm to hit the state in three years. Prior to landfall the storm had sustained winds up to 155 mph and gusts to 185 mph but, fortunately, it weakened considerably prior to landfall. Thanks to advance preparation there was no loss of life reported, however damage, mainly to agriculture, reached almost US$1 billion.

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

The hottest temperature observed in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere during the month was 41.0°C (105.8°F) measured at Bidyadanga, Western Australia on April 3rd and also at Bradshaw on April 2nd. The coldest reading was -7.5°C (18.5°F) at Charlotte Pass, New South Wales on April 25th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 376.0 mm (14.80”) at Nash’s Crossing Alert, Queensland on April 13th as a result of Cyclone Ita.


One of the biggest weather stories during April was the incredible flooding that struck the Solomon Islands during the first week of the month. A slow moving tropical cyclone swept over the island chain unleashing torrents of rainfall (as much as 1000 mm/40” in a four-day span at Gold Ridge Mine in Guadalcanal with half of this falling in just 24 hours). At least 23 flood-related fatalities occurred (with a further 25 listed as missing) and 15,000 of the island’s 600,000 residents lost their homes. It was perhaps the worst weather-related disaster to affect the Solomon’s in modern history.

Homes collapse into the Matanikau River in Honiara, the Solomon Island’s capital, during the devastating flood in early April. Photo from World Vision.

for much of the country New Zealand was unusually warm during April (+1.2°C/+2.2°F above normal) with the North Island placing in its top 4 warmest Aprils on record. Some sites saw their highest April temperatures ever recorded, including Tauranga where it reached 28.4°C (83.1°F) on April 7th (POR back to 1913). Rainfall was variable with some areas seeing their wettest April on record while others reported only 50% of average. Among the wet locations was Christchurch where 244 mm (9.60”) was measured, some 499% of normal (and 2nd wettest April since 1863) and back-to-back with a record wet March. In fact, between just this March and April Christchurch received 71% of their average annual precipitation with a 424 mm (16.69”) two-month total.

The warmest temperature observed in New Zealand during April was 29.6°C (85.3°F) at Whakatane on April 7th and coldest -4.2°C (24.4°F) at Pukaki Aerodrome on April 29th. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 197 mm (7.75”) at Akaroa on April 17th.

New Zealand precipitation deciles for April. Note the rather large area that observed wettest on record amounts for the month. Map courtesy of NIWA.


The coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere and the world during April was –76.0°C (-104.8°F) measured at Vostok on April 26th.

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data, Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data, and Michael Theusner of Klimahaus for German data.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather

Updated: 6:20 PM GMT on May 17, 2014


Heavy Late-Season Snow Buries Wyoming and Colorado

By: weatherhistorian, 9:37 PM GMT on May 13, 2014

Heavy Late-Season Snow Buries Wyoming and Colorado

An exceptionally heavy snowfall buried many locations in Colorado and Wyoming the past few days. In the mountains two to three feet accumulated and even low elevations saw near record snowfall amounts for this time of the year. Here are some details.

Snowfall blankets the baseball field at Coor’s Field in Denver on Monday. Photo tweeted by the Rockies Baseball team.

The most remarkable snowfall totals were in Wyoming where a site 19 miles WSW of Encampment picked up an astonishing 43.0” between 2 p.m. Saturday (May 10) and 9 a.m. Monday (May 12). Cheyenne, Wyoming had a 10.5” calendar day accumulation on May 11th (Sunday) and a 12.0” storm total (Sunday-Monday), the heaviest snowfall for so late in the season since snowfall records began in 1883. Just a week earlier (on May 4th) the temperature had been 79°.

Welcome to mid-May in Wyoming. A resident of Cheyenne, where 12.0” of snow accumulated, sent this photo to The Weather Channel following the big storm on Sunday. The drifts appear to be about five feet deep. Thanks to a friend of Jeff Eno at TWC for sharing.

In Colorado the top amount was 33.3” at Arapaho Ridge, and in the Denver Metro area amounts of 4”-7” were common. Chadron, in Nebraska, received 6.0”.

Here are some of the top storm totals listed from the NWS Storm Prediction Center:

Map of snowfall totals in north-central Colorado May 10-12. Although the map shows two locations with 34.7” amounts, a list that accompanied it stated only 33.3” at Arapahoe Ridge as the top total for the region. Map from NWS-Colorado.

A powerful cold front accompanied by a surface low of 29.65” centered over northeastern Kansas was responsible for the snowfall. Temperatures fell sharply as the front sagged south and east late last week. Riverton, Wyoming received a daily record 1.1” of snowfall last Wednesday (May 7th) just a day after a rare tornado touched down near the NWS office there. The storm was so bad in southern Wyoming that almost the entire stretch (350 miles) of Interstate-80 was closed for a period of time.

May snowfall is not all that uncommon in Wyoming and Colorado, especially in the mountains (where it IS common), but this storm was exceptional for the amounts that accumulated at valley and Plains locations like Cheyenne. Keeping that in mind, it is interesting to note that Cheyenne once had a 7.0” snowfall on June 7th (in 1889) and its latest measurable snowfall on record occurred on June 14, 1955 when 0.3” fell. Havre, Montana (another Plains site) experienced its greatest single snowstorm on record (for any month) during a May when 33.8” accumulated on May 2-4, 1899.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Mini Blog Snow

Updated: 12:27 AM GMT on May 14, 2014


Record Heat, Drought Continues in Southern Plains

By: weatherhistorian, 7:45 PM GMT on May 07, 2014

Record Heat, Drought Continues in Southern Plains

As a follow up to my previous blog, the early May heat wave continues making this perhaps the warmest period of weather ever observed this time of the year in portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and northwestern Texas. The same region is also off to one of its driest starts to the year ever observed.

Following all the heat records set on May 4th (as detailed in my last blog), May 5th experienced more of the same:

MAY 5th Heat Records

Abilene, Texas 104° (tied earliest such reading set on April 25, 2012)

San Angelo, TX 103° (ties same in 1984)

Amarillo, Texas 98° (tied daily record also set in 1940)

Oklahoma City 97° (previous record 94° in 1940)

Lubbock, Texas 99° (ties same in 2012)

Childress, Texas 105° (ties same in 2012)

Wichita Falls, Texas 102° (previous record 98° in 2012)

Tulsa, Oklahoma 92° (ties same in 1952)

Ft. Smith, Arkansas 93° (previous record 92° in 1952)

In addition to the above records broken or tied were daily records of 95° set in both Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. Altus, Oklahoma reported an amazing 107° (actually 106.5°) at their Municipal Airport location which was the hottest temperature observed in the entire U.S. on May 5th. The data for this site (KAXS) seems a bit out of line with surrounding sites and so is suspicious.

MAY 6th Heat Records

Wichita, Kansas 99° (previous record 91° in 1986)

Oklahoma City 92° (ties same in 1918)

Wichita Falls, Texas 97° (previous 96° in 1929)

Amarillo, Texas 98° (ties same in 1940)

Medicine Lodge, Kansas 102° (previous record 95° in 1986)

Salina, Kansas 101° (previous record 94° in 1955)

Altus (KAXS), Oklahoma reportedly hit 104.4° and once again was the hottest location in the U.S. for the day. Today (May 7th) is shaping up to be yet another record-breaker across the same region.

All of Kansas has seen much below normal precipitation so far this year, with the past three months at or below 25% of normal for a large portion of the state. Wichita is on the brink of having its driest start to a year since records began there in 1888. Map from NWS-Wichita.

Accompanying the heat is a record or near-record dry start to the year. Waco, Texas and San Angelo, Texas are both off to their driest starts to a year on record as will be Wichita, Kansas if it doesn’t rain more than .36” by tomorrow, May 8th. Thunderstorms are in the forecast however.

Note that the tables for San Angelo and Abilene were as of April 30th. Since then San Angelo has moved into first place and Abilene has moved into 3rd place Tables from NWS-San Angelo and NWS-Dallas.

As the above graph illustrates, San Angelo is now experiencing its driest start to a year on record (POR began in 1907).

Adding to the heat and drought have been brush fires across the region, the worst of which was a ‘controlled’ burn near Guthrie, Oklahoma on May 5th that got out of control and consumed 3000 acres, about 6 homes, and 20 other structures with the loss of one life. A new fire ignited on Tuesday evening (May 6th) in Woodward County (about 130 miles west of Guthrie) and has resulted in more forced evacuations and two injuries.

Firefighters work to extinguish a flare-up near Guthrie, Oklahoma on Monday. Photo by Nick Oxford, AP.

Meanwhile, a late season snowstorm will affect the higher elevations of the Rockies today and tomorrow (May 7-8) with accumulations of 8”-12” possible above 8,000’.

Precipitation and snowfall forecast for the next 48 hours as of 14:00Z May 6th. Hopefully, some of this precipitation will move east and eventually impact the drought-stricken regions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Map courtesy of Thomas Niziol at The Weather Channel.

I will be away on family business until next Monday, so this will be last blog until either Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat Drought


Wichita, Kansas Measures May Monthly High Temperature of 102°

By: weatherhistorian, 7:19 PM GMT on May 05, 2014

Wichita, Kansas Measures May Monthly High Temperature of 102°

On Sunday, May 4th, the temperature peaked at 102° at Wichita’s official NWS site Mid-Continent International Airport. Not only was this the hottest temperature ever measured during the month of May (previous record was 100° set on four different occasions) but was the earliest 100° reading on record (previous was May 9, 2011) and hottest reading so early in the season by a whole month: since June 4, 1933 when 102° was also observed. The city is off to its 2nd driest start of the year on record as well. Temperature and precipitation records for Wichita date back to 1888.

Another remarkable fact is that just two days previously, on May 2nd, the temperature fell to 35°, only 2° shy of the daily record low temperature of 33° set in 2005. Russell, Kansas did break its daily record with a chilly 28° and Wichita Falls, Texas broke its all-time monthly low for May with a 35° reading (previous record 36° on three previous occasions). Then it broke its daily record high on May 4th with 99° (previous record 98° in 2012). Oklahoma City also had a daily record high on May 4th with a 97° reading (previous record 93° in 1955). Temperatures peaked in Oklahoma at 101° in Gage and Frederick and 103° in Kansas at Medicine Lodge—this was the hottest temperature in the nation yesterday (May 4th) outside of Death Valley (where it was 107°). Other cities in the region breaking daily record highs on May 4th included Amarillo, Texas with 97° (old record 96° in 1947), Garden City, Kansas with 97° (previous record 94° in 2012) and Dodge City, Kansas with 98° (previous record 92° in 2012). Dodge City also saw a daily record high of 91° on May 3rd, just a day after the temperature was 30° (on May 2nd), only 2° from the daily record low of 28° set in 1967.

A shocking turn around in temperature for Dodge City, Kansas these first few days of May: from 30° on May 2nd to daily record highs of 91° on May 3rd and 98° on May 4th. NWS-Dodge City.

The year is also observing an ominously dry start in the Southern Plains. Wichita, Kansas is off to its driest start to the year since the Dust Bowl year of 1936, and if no rain falls by May 8th, it will be THE driest start to the year since records began in 1888.

Wichita is off to a dry start this year as the above graphic from NWS-Wichita illustrates.

Drought conditions are worsening over a wide portion of the southern Plains, especially in Texas, as the latest drought monitor report (issued on May 1st) shows:

U.S. Drought Monitor report for May 1st (top map) and change in drought categories over the past two months (bottom map) Both maps NCDC and National Drought Mitigation Center.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Mini Blog Heat Cold Drought

Updated: 10:08 PM GMT on May 05, 2014


California Drought Update-May 2014

By: weatherhistorian, 7:36 PM GMT on May 02, 2014

California Drought Update-May 2014

The water season (July 1-June 30) has, for all practical purposes, come to an end for California. Although May and June may see some additional precipitation (especially in the far north) it is unlikely that anything will happen to improve the prospect of a catastrophic drought this year for the state. Here is a monthly update.

The final snow survey in the Sierra Nevada was taken on May 1st and the statewide snowpack was just 18% of average for the date. This compares to 32% as of April 1st. The situation in the northern section of the survey area was just 7% of normal. This is the 2nd lowest snowpack figure for May 1st (May 1, 1977 being the lowest on record).

Snow-water content of the Sierra snow pack for each region compared to average (blue shaded area), maximum on record (purple line), lowest on record (red line) and this year (deep blue line). California Department of Water Resources.

Although April rainfall was close to normal for most of the state, the snow that fell in the Sierra melted quickly following each storm due to the warm April sunshine. The California Department of water resources has set this year’s water allocation at 5% of requested amounts (requested by agricultural and other public water agencies). This is the smallest such allocation in the 54-year history of the State Water Project operated by the Department of Water Resources.

Above is a chart of SWP (State Water Project) allocations since 1999. Not shown is the 5% allocation set for 2014, the lowest on record (for the past 54 years). Graph from California Department of Water Resources.

The state’s reservoirs are at critically low levels for this time of the year.

State reservoir capacities as of May 1st. Overall, the total capacity of all the water in all the reservoirs is currently about 50% of normal for this time of year. California Department of Water Resources.

So far as actual drought conditions and precipitation amounts as of May 1st, the latest drought monitor report (below) shows that there has been further deterioration in conditions since the report that was issued on April 1st.

California Drought Monitor reports for April 1st (top map) and May 1st (bottom map). For the first time since these reports were issued 15 years ago, the entire state of California is now experiencing drought conditions. NOAA et al.

Rainfall in April was actually close to normal for most of the state as one can see in the tables below. The worsening of the drought conditions, however, is that the strong April sunshine is increasing evaporation rates.

Total seasonal precipitation to date (July 1, 2013-May 1, 2014 top table compared to July 1-April 1 bottom table) for select California cities. The cites are arranged in geographical order from north to south.

The bottom line is that the rainy season is over and the next six months are going to be a severe test of the state’s ability to manage its meager water resources. We will probably see (and already are) clashes between agricultural concerns and urban consumers. The specter of an horrific fire season also looms over all this. It has been 37 years since a drought of this severity has affected the state and since the drought of 1975-1977 the population of California has almost doubled (from about 20 million to 38 million). The consumption of water resources by the agricultural industry has also dramatically increased. The only mitigating affect of these changes is that per capita water consumption has decreased thanks to a number of conservation innovations and regulations.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Drought

Updated: 6:15 AM GMT on May 03, 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.

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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.