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The 39 Strangest Weather Events I've Seen in My Lifetime
Published: November 9, 2017
Some weather events are so strange they capture the fascination of even the most grizzled meteorologists.
A thunderstorm with quarter-size hail, a menacing shelf cloud, or even a full-fledged blizzard are impressive, but some weather phenomena are exceptional in magnitude, extremely rare for a given area or time of year or just flat-out bizarre.
While a full history of the strangest weather is beyond the scope of this piece, I thought I'd take a look at some of the most bizarre things in weather I've seen in my lifetime, dating to the early 1970s.
I'd love to rank these, but they're all so bizarre in their own way. So enjoy this look at weather's weird side.
1. Wildfires in Greenland
Mention Greenland and you probably think of the island's ice sheet. In summer 2017, however, a series of wildfires burned in western Greenland.
While not unprecedented, the amount of fire activity detected by satellite in 2017 over Greenland far exceeded any other year since 2002.
(IN-DEPTH: The Western Greenland Wildfires of 2017)
Seeing either a tornado or, to a lesser extent, a rainbow, is a rare sight.
On March 9, 2017, a ghostly-white tornado aligned with a rainbow for at least a few minutes in the Bavarian town of Kürnach, about 60 miles east-southeast of Frankfurt.
Incredibly, one video also showed a secondary rainbow.
Eat your heart out, storm chasers.
3. From Nearly 100 Degrees to Snow
The Plains states are well known for some of the most dramatic temperature changes. One in early 2017 only added to that eye-popping list.
After tying a state February high-temperature record, nearly reaching 100 degrees on Feb. 11, 2017, a sharp cold front plunged through the next day and was then followed by light snow on Valentine's Day in Mangum, Oklahoma.
(IN-DEPTH: 99 Degrees to Snow in 72 Hours)
4. A Moonbow
(Jullie Powell Photography)
Yes, there are rainbows at night.
In summer 2016, one lucky Montana photographer caught a moonbow – during a late-night thunderstorm, no less.
These are so rare because they're produced by the light of a bright near-full moon less than 42 degrees above the horizon, illuminating rain on the opposite side of a dark sky, according to Atmospheric Optics.
(IN-DEPTH: The Montana July 2016 Moonbow)
5. Two Large Tornadoes at Once
(Roger Hill - Silver Lining Tours)
The sight of one large tornado is frightening enough, let alone two side-by-side.
A supercell thunderstorm near Pilger, Nebraska, on June 16, 2014, surprised both residents and even veteran storm chasers.
(IN-DEPTH: Science Behind the Pilger Twin Tornadoes)
6. A Snowy Break-In
After over a month's worth of heavy snowstorms, a "mini-avalanche" of snow broke through an Alaska home in January 2012.
"I didn't realize that it had also come in through our bedroom," said Cynthia Shidner of Valdez, Alaska, after the snow barged in.
"And my husband was actually in bed with snow on him." Four Coast Guard volunteers helped the Shidner family shovel out their home.
A state of emergency was declared and National Guard troops were called out to help clear out homes and roads in nearby Cordova, where drifts 12-14 feet high were reported.
This happened again five years later near Lake Tahoe, California, as a controlled avalanche during a prolonged period of heavy snow blew through several homes in Alpine Meadows.
7. Hurricane Season 'Goes Greek'
One of the few light moments in the otherwise terrible, historic 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was prompted by the Greek alphabet.
For the first time, all 21 names provided by the World Meteorological Organization for the 2005 Atlantic season had been used once record-setting Hurricane Wilma came into play.
Therefore, on Oct. 22, as Wilma was lashing Cancun, National Hurricane Center (NHC) meteorologists upgraded a new storm southeast of Hispañola to Tropical Storm Alpha. Yes, Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet.
If that wasn't enough, another five named storms formed, ending with Tropical Storm Zeta, which lagged into the new year.
Alpha's mudslides did claim 26 lives in Hispañola, and 400 homes were damaged or destroyed in Haiti, according to the NHC.
8. A North Pole Thaw ... in December
(NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Division)
A powerful storm that hit Iceland in late December 2015 helped pull mild air, by Arctic standards, all the way to the North Pole.
On Dec. 30, a buoy located near the North Pole reported a temperature of 33.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 degrees Celsius). This makes it plausible that the North Pole itself may have briefly reached or exceeded the freezing mark (32 degrees), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Temperatures this mild are about 50 degrees Fahrenheit above average for late December at the North Pole. In addition, only three other times since 1948 has the North Pole seen temperatures at or above the freezing mark in December, according to reanalysis data.
9. Windiest NFL Game
(Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Green Bay's Ice Bowl (1967) and Cincinnati's Freezer Bowl (1982) are two of the National Football League's most famous bad-weather games. In my opinion, however, a more recent game was more meteorologically bizarre.
On Dec. 28, 2008, the NFL's New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills played through a game in which the winds were so strong the goalposts had to be straightened four different times, three of those before kickoff.
Gusts to 75 mph damaged the Bills' practice fieldhouse prior to kickoff.
Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski actually hit 2 of 3 field goal attempts. Bills kicker Rian Lindell missed his only kick, initially going left, but then veering sharply right of the goalposts.
10. Hail Glaciers
On April 11, 2012, a single supercell thunderstorm dumped torrential rain and hail near Dumas, Texas, north of Amarillo.
The volume of both hail and rain overwhelmed a shallow gully, or draw, near the U.S. 287 bridge, piling the water and ice mass into massive drifts up to 10 feet high, trapping vehicles and forcing the closure of the road for 12 hours.
A study on so-called "hail glaciers" from National Weather Service Meteorologists Justyn Jackson, T. Todd Lindley, and Jane Love, from the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources uncovered two other events in the recent past:
- Aug. 14, 2004 (Clayton, N.M.): Up to 16-foot hail glaciers. Some ice cover lasted almost a month, even in late summer.
- May 9, 1994 (Dalhart, Texas): Up to three-foot hail drifts shut down U.S. 385 for almost one month.
11. White Christmas in South Texas
(shacam1 via weather.com/photos)
If you tried to escape winter with a trip to South Padre for Christmas 2004, you rolled snake eyes.
Arctic air plunging south intercepted a vigorous upper-level disturbance to produce a White Christmas in Deep South Texas.
It was the first day of measurable snowfall since 1895 in Brownsville, Texas. The same latitude as Miami. On Christmas Day, no less.
This was the heaviest 24-hour snow on record in nearby Victoria, Texas (12.5 inches) and the snowstorm of record in Corpus Christi (4.4 inches).
12. Record Strongest Hurricane Makes Landfall, Few Deaths
If the strongest hurricane on record in the western hemisphere was headed for a landfall, you might fear for the lives of hundreds, if not thousands in its path.
At its peak, Hurricane Patricia packed maximum sustained winds of 215 mph in late October 2015 off the southwest Mexican coast. It's lowest central pressure was later found to bottom out at 872 millibars, only 2 millibars from the global record set by Super Typhoon Tip in 1979.
Still powerful, Patricia weakened to a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall but did so in a rather sparsely populated area north of Manzanillo, Mexico.
"Had the center jogged only 20-30 miles east, the core would've been over an area with 10 times the population density," said Michael Lowry, UCAR scientist and former hurricane specialist with The Weather Channel.
Patricia's small wind field and the steep ocean floor offshore meant it couldn't generate a huge storm surge, according to Lowry.
Only two deaths were directly attributed to Hurricane Patricia, from a fallen tree on a campsite.
13. Seven Tornadoes Hit One Town on One Night
Earlier, we discussed the frightening sight of two large tornadoes at once.
One Nebraska city more than tripled that in one awful June evening.
Seven tornadoes were spawned by a single, slow-moving supercell thunderstorm in less than three hours on June 3, 1980, in and near Grand Island, Nebraska.
Thanks, in part, to the parent supercell's slow movement, the most destructive tornado, rated F4, strangely moved from east of town westward into the south side of Grand Island before turning south.
The other area tornadoes also took erratic, loopy paths over their previous damage paths.
Five were killed and another 193 were injured, with damage estimated around $300 million.
14. A Spring Snow Survey Without the Snow
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Each April 1, the California Department of Water Resources conducts a statewide snow survey, including manual measurements of the Sierra snowpack in several locations. Roughly one-third of California's drinking water comes from the Sierra snowpack, which after melting later in the spring and summer replenishes the state's reservoirs.
There's usually several feet of snow still on the ground in the Sierra at the time of this spring snow survey, requiring a rather long snowpack measuring pole.
For the first time, the spring 2015 snow survey and news conference near Echo Summit was conducted on bare grass. Cooperative Snow Surveys Program chief Frank Gehrke could only point to the height on a measuring pole that was the previous record low snowpack there.
Statewide, the snowpack was only 5 percent of the average on April 1, 2015, by far the lowest on record for that date.
15. The Most Unlucky Island in 2015
Tiny Socotra Island in the Arabian Sea just east of the Horn of Africa may have been the unluckiest place in the world in 2015, meteorologically speaking.
First, Cyclone Chapala's eyewall lashed the island on Nov. 1. Chapala had become the farthest south Category 4 intensity tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea.
Chapala then made an unprecedented hurricane-strength landfall on the Gulf of Aden coast of Yemen, triggering flooding in the city of Al Mukalla and surrounding areas.
While tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea aren't unusual at all, this appears to have been the first time on record of back-to-back cyclones hitting Socotra in a week's time.
16. The Perfect Storm's Strange Ending
You've probably seen the movie and might have read the best-selling book, so you're probably at least somewhat aware of how destructive the "Perfect Storm" was along parts of the Eastern Seaboard.
(FULL RECAP: The Perfect Storm)
Low pressure off Nova Scotia absorbing Hurricane Grace's energy and moisture was impressive enough.
As the overall storm began to weaken after lashing the East Coast as far south as North Carolina, a tiny circulation within the storm intensified into a full-fledged hurricane on Nov. 1, 1991.
This hurricane was never named, for fear of alarming and confusing the public after the hard hit from the Perfect Storm. The so-called "Unnamed Hurricane" remained well out to sea and only limped ashore as a weakening tropical storm in Nova Scotia the next day.
17. Hail in Paradise
The hailstone pictured above measured 4.25 inches in length, roughly comparable to the diameter of a softball. Any guesses where? Texas? Oklahoma? Alabama? Good guesses, but they're all roughly 4,000 miles off.
A supercell thunderstorm dropped numerous 2- to 3-inch diameter hailstones, as well as the huge one above, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, on March 9, 2012. This shattered the previous state record 1-inch diameter hailstone, roughly the size of a quarter.
The Western Regional Climate Center's "Climate of Hawaii" says thunderstorms are reported somewhere in Hawaii about 20-30 days each year. It goes on to say thunderstorms there are "infrequent enough so that many people who have lived only in Hawaii have no real notion of the violence of mainland thunderstorms."
18. Buried in Boston
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
In the winter of 2014-15, seasonal snow records were smashed in several New England cities, including Boston.
Incredibly, a parade of snowstorms delivered much of that snow in just 30 days.
From Jan. 24-Feb. 22, 2015, Boston picked up 94.4 inches, just under 8 feet of snow, obliterating its previous record 30-day snowfall from the infamous winter of 1978 by almost 3 feet.
Two of Boston's seven heaviest snowstorms of record occurred within an 11-15 day period.
It's no wonder driving down city streets, clearing a driveway, or even just finding some semblance of a sidewalk was a chore, even for typically winter-resilient coastal New England.
(FULL RECAP: New England's Record Snow 2014-2015)
19. Nadine's 'Scribbling'
The path of Hurricane Nadine in September and early October 2012 resembled a toddler's scribbling instead of a typical hurricane path.
Nadine spent a total of just over three weeks as a named tropical or subtropical cyclone, 21.75 days, to be exact. This does not include its brief spell as a post-tropical cyclone.
Nadine's haphazard path affected The Azores not once, but twice, producing wind gusts over 50 mph in a few spots each time. Nadine strengthened to a hurricane three different times.
On Thursday, Oct. 4, the National Hurricane Center issued its final advisory on Nadine, citing the Grateful Dead's, "What a long, strange trip it's been."
In sum, the NHC issued a total of 88 forecast advisories during Nadine's lifetime.
(FULL RECAP: Hurricane Nadine)
20. Tornado Debris 200 Miles Away
(Dr. John Knox/Univ. of Georgia)
The story here isn't so much about the subject of the photo above, but its incredible journey.
A study led by University of Georgia associate professor Dr. John Knox utilized social media to track debris lofted by the violent tornadoes of the April 27, 2011 outbreak.
The town of Phil Campbell, Alabama, was leveled by an EF5 tornado that day.
Amidst buildings swept away leaving only the slab foundation, a car wrapped around a debarked tree, and a section of highway's pavement scoured away, the tornado swept up a photo, beginning a 220-mile trip, falling back to the ground in Lenoir City, Tennessee.
According to the Knox, et al. study, a second object from Phil Campbell was deposited near Knoxville, Tennessee.
21. Sandy's Snow, Then Snow After Sandy
(AP Photo/Wayne Perry)
Superstorm Sandy could take up an entire "weird" article by itself.
First, there was the surreal sight of a mention of "snow" in a National Hurricane Center advisory for what was, at the time, Hurricane Sandy.
Cold air supplied by a southward plunge in the jet stream plus moisture hurled westward by Sandy produced up to 3 feet of snow in the central and southern Appalachians. Blizzard conditions were reported in some areas.
Just a little more than a week after Sandy moved inland, Winter Storm Athena brought snow to the Northeast coast. New York City reported 4.7 inches from the storm. More than 8 inches was reported on western Long Island near Albertson.
Images from the Jersey Shore showed snow piled on debris left behind by Sandy a little more than a week earlier.
22. Sandy's Strange, Tragic Hook
Many western Atlantic hurricanes curl north, then northeast safely away from the U.S. East Coast, thanks to either an impinging jet stream from the mainland or a weaker Bermuda-Azores high farther east.
In late October 2012, however, blocking high pressure south of Greenland and a southward jet stream dip too far west over the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley steered Sandy to a catastrophic landfall.
Late on Oct. 28, Sandy began its bizarre northwest turn toward the Jersey shore, curling almost west-northwest after landfall into Pennsylvania.
Most weather systems in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere have at least some west-to-east motion. Tragically, Superstorm Sandy was steered off that course at exactly the wrong time.
(INTERACTIVE: Evolution of Sandy's Projected Path)
23. One of the Nation's Weirdest Heat Waves
The Upper Midwest sweated through summerlike heat in March 2012, when it was still officially winter, in what was widely considered one of the most anomalous weather events of recent memory.
Numerous cities broke all-time March records, some of them on five consecutive days.
It was so warm that some places had daily lows that were warmer than the previous record highs for those dates. The warmth was so extreme that parts of Michigan rose above their average July high temperatures.
By month's end, more than 15,000 heat records had been broken - 7,755 record daily highs, and 7,517 record-warm daily lows.
Thanks to this heat wave, March was actually warmer than April in over 20 cities.
24. A Massive Hailstone
Some of you have seen hail the size of golf balls.
On July 23, 2010, a resident of Vivian, South Dakota, had history fall right in his yard. And it was much bigger than a golf ball.
A supercell thunderstorm littered Les Scott's yard with huge hailstones. Mr. Scott quickly stored the hailstones in his freezer.
Despite a subsequent power outage leading to some melting, an investigation by the National Weather Service in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and NOAA's Climate Extremes Committee found one of the hailstones was a new U.S. record for diameter (8 inches) and weight (1 pound, 15 ounces).
Hailstones grow by taking a slow path through a thunderstorm's updraft while being bombarded by sheets of liquid water, freezing onto the stone. The stronger the updraft, the larger the hailstone can grow.
The National Weather Service estimated this hailstone was supported by updraft speeds of 160-180 mph, comparable to sustained wind speeds in a Category 5 hurricane.
25. A Hurricane in the South Atlantic Ocean
Until 2004, no hurricane had ever been confirmed in the South Atlantic Ocean.
It was thought wind shear, the change in wind speed and/or direction with height, was too strong in this area to allow clusters of thunderstorms to organize around an area of low pressure to begin the process of tropical cyclogenesis.
In late March 2004, however, wind shear was low off the eastern coast of South America as an upper-level low-pressure system was sprouting thunderstorms near its center.
Making the transition to a tropical cyclone, what was later called Hurricane Catarina turned back westward, making landfall in the Santa Catarina province of Brazil as a Category 1 storm on March 27, 2004.
According to the final summary by Marcelino et al., just over 38,000 structures were damaged and another 1,468 collapsed. Despite the freak nature of this storm, some residents evacuated from the coast.
26. Snow Dusts a Mexican Resort
Roads were impassable due to snow in Mexico's Durango state in early March 2016.
(Social Communication, Government of the State of Durango)
(Social Communication, Government of the State of Durango)
The magnitude of an area of low pressure aloft in central Mexico in early March 2016 was unusually strong and cold for that area, not only for March, but any time of year.
"Such a large, strong upper low appears to be an unprecedented event in modern weather observations for Mexico," said Bob Henson in a Weather Underground blog.
Mexico's second-most populated city, Guadalajara, even saw a coating of snow in some areas. Guadalajara is at a latitude lower than Miami and even Havana, Cuba. However, its elevation of about 5,200 feet in combination with the cold nature of the low-pressure system allowed snow to fall there.
This was reportedly the first snow in Guadalajara since December 1997, another strong El Nino year.
Snow brought travel to a standstill in Durango state, and thundersnow was reported at Zacatecas (elevation 7,141 feet).
27. 'Wrong Way' Lenny
“Wrong Way” Lenny was the first tropical cyclone to have an extended west-to-east track across the central and eastern Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic tropical cyclone record, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Typically, these tropical storms and hurricanes move generally the opposite direction, namely east-to-west, around the subtropical Bermuda-Azores high-pressure system to its north.
However, given it was mid-late November, westerly winds aloft had already penetrated relatively far south, steering Lenny east.
This hurricane wasn't just a curiosity. St. Croix, St. Maarten/Martin, St. Lucia, Saba, Guadeloupe, Grenada among other islands, suffered heavy damage from surge flooding, rainfall flooding, and high winds.
Lenny’s name was retired from future name lists.
(MORE: Retired Atlantic Names)
28. Yes, It Does Snow in the Sunshine State
Florida and snow sound like polar opposites, but it is actually a tad less rare in the Sunshine State than it sounds in north Florida.
However, on Jan. 19, 1977, residents and snowbirds escaping northern winter were shocked to see snow falling in South Florida, including Miami, for the first time in history.
Snow was reported as far south as Homestead, Florida, and was even reported in Freeport, on Grand Bahama Island.
To the north, Plant City, Florida, east of Tampa, picked up 2 inches of snow.
(MORE: 10 Shocking Snow Cities)
29. Back-to-Back Tornado Days 10 Years Apart
(Track data: NWS-Norman, Oklahoma)
On May 8, 2003, an F4 tornado tracked over some of the same areas heavily damaged by the more infamous May 3, 1999, tornado in Moore and the south Oklahoma City.
The next evening, three more tornadoes were spawned in the Oklahoma City metro area, including an F3 tornado from south of Edmond to near Luther, Oklahoma.
This was the first time in recorded history the Oklahoma City metro area was hit by F/EF3+ or stronger tornadoes on consecutive days.
But it wouldn't be the last.
May 19-20, 2013 became the second time in recorded history to witness F/EF3+ tornadoes on consecutive days, almost exactly ten years after it was first done.
In fact, both the 2013 and 2003 events featured two tornadoes tracking from roughly the Edmond area to near Luther, as well as a Moore-to-Norman track.
30. The Heaviest Rainstorm on Earth
Other than the months-long soakings during the wet phase of the Asian monsoon in India, nowhere on Earth sees heavier rainstorms than La Reunion Island, a tiny French island about 500 miles east of Madagascar.
In mid-late January 1980, Tropical Cyclone Hyacinthe stalled near the island for about two weeks, dumping up to 239.49 inches, or almost 20 feet, of rain in 15 days.
This is almost four times the average yearly rainfall in Miami.
La Reunion's volcanic peaks over 10,000 feet provide strong lift to moist air ramming into its slopes. The island is also at the climatological location where Indian Ocean tropical cyclones pivot from a west-southwest track to a more south to southeast track. Sometimes this turn occurs painfully slow.
Hyacinthe's flooding killed 25 and left 7,000 residents homeless on the island.
31. A Tsunami Triggered By a Derecho
You've heard of tsunamis triggered by earthquakes under the ocean floor, or by landslides. Did you know weather can also trigger a tsunami?
In June 2013, a squall line of severe thunderstorms producing destructive straight-line winds, known as a derecho, raced from Indiana to New Jersey in 12 hours.
While responsible for over 200 reports of high winds or wind damage, it was the derecho's exit off the East Coast that was most strange.
More than 30 tide gauges along the East Coast, Bermuda and Puerto Rico recorded water level fluctuations consistent with a tsunami, yet no earthquake was recorded. The so-called "meteotsunami" was believed to be caused by the derecho itself.
Unlike recent destructive tsunamis in Japan and Indonesia, this meteotsunami's peak amplitude was just under one foot above sea level. However, one six-foot wave swept three people off rocks at Barnegat Inlet, New Jersey.
32. Arkansas Snow ... in May!
(MaryB via weather.com/photos)
Early May in northwest Arkansas typically features daytime highs in the 70s and morning lows in the 50s.
In 2013, snow fell for the first time in state history in May, thanks to Winter Storm Achilles.
It wasn't just a dusting either. Up to 5 inches of snow was measured in Decatur, Arkansas.
Achilles also produced the first May flakes of snow on record in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the latest snow on record in Springfield, Missouri.
Achilles was the May snowstorm of record in Omaha, Nebraska (3.1 inches), Des Moines, Iowa (6.9 inches), Eau Claire, Wisconsin (9.3 inches) and Rochester, Minnesota (14.3 inches).
Less than two weeks later, Omaha soared to 101 degrees on May 14, its hottest day on record so early in the season.
33. January Atlantic Hurricane
The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season got off to a very early start.
Hurricane Alex became the first January Atlantic hurricane since 1955, only the second Atlantic hurricane to form in January (the other was in 1938), and the strongest January Atlantic hurricane on record (85 mph peak winds).
What's more, Alex made a landfall in the island of Terceira in The Azores, a group of Portuguese islands located 800 to 900 miles west of Portugal's mainland. Wind gusts over 50 mph were measured in The Azores as the center sliced through.
(FULL RECAP: Hurricane Alex)
34. Monthly Global Temperature Record Streak
August 2016 marked the 16th consecutive month global temperatures set records for that particular month in the NOAA database.
NOAA said this was the longest stretch of months in a row where the earth has set a new monthly temperature record dating to 1880.
What's more, Earth's global temperatures in February 2016 were the most abnormally warm on record for any month in NASA's database.
A record-tying El Niño certainly played a role, but warm anomalies were found in many areas of the globe in 2015 and early 2016, particularly in the Arctic.
35. Snow Following a Destructive Tornado
(AP Photo/John Flavell)
The cruel reality about early-spring or late fall tornadoes is that Ol' Man Winter can follow.
A blanket of light snow fell just days after the March 2, 2012, EF3 tornado ravaged West Liberty, Kentucky.
A cooperative observer just northwest of town measured almost 5 inches of snow, making the clean-up more difficult in this east Kentucky town.
Perhaps the most egregious example occurred on Nov. 11, 1911, when an F4 tornado in Janesville, Wisconsin, was followed just hours later by bitterly cold air and blizzard conditions as survivors were still digging through the rubble.
(MORE: 5 Incredible Temperature Swings)
This typically happens when a very strong low-pressure system in winter or early spring first triggers severe thunderstorms over an area in its warm sector, then wraps heavy snow and high winds the next day or sooner over that same area.
Can tropical storms, even hurricanes, form in the Mediterranean Sea?
One argument for so-called "medicanes" is the appearance of some recent storms via satellite resembling small hurricanes, including an eye.
In early November 2011, a low over the Mediterranean Sea appeared to have transitioned to at least a subtropical storm, if not a tropical storm. NOAA/NESDIS designated this Tropical Storm 01M, also called "Rolf," on Nov. 7.
Weather Underground's Dr. Jeff Masters, however, noted water temperatures near the cyclone were quite cold, on the order of 63 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the typical threshold needed to maintain a tropical cyclone (usually around 79 degrees Fahrenheit).
Nevertheless, the storm made landfall in southeast France, producing up to two feet of rain, triggering major flooding in parts of France, Spain, and Italy. Twelve were killed.
37. Superstorm 1993
One of the most extreme extratropical storms in U.S. history, this mid-March 1993 storm had it all.
A storm surge resembling that of a hurricane along Florida's Gulf Coast in what was still winter. About as close to whiteout conditions as you'll ever see on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.
Here are just some of the other incredible highlights:
- Six-foot snow drifts in Birmingham, Alabama
- Up to 6 inches of snow in the Florida Panhandle
- Up to 14-foot drifts in Virginia
- Thousands isolated by heavy snow in the Southeast
- A 12-foot storm surge in Taylor County, Florida.
- 270 killed in 13 states from Florida to Maine
- $5.5 billion estimated damage (1993 dollars)
- 20,000 homes damaged in Florida
- 3 million power outages
- All major East Coast airports closed
- Derecho raced across Florida and Cuba with 109 mph wind gust at the Dry Tortugas and a 100 mph gust in Havana, Cuba.
38. Two Hurricanes in Six Days
Bermuda experienced an unprecedented double whammy in 2014, as hurricanes made landfall there just six days apart: Hurricane Fay on Oct. 12, followed by Hurricane Gonzalo on Oct. 18.
The island had never been affected by two named storms so close together in time, let alone seen both of them make landfall on the tiny cluster of islands, which have a combined land area of less than 21 square miles, about three-fifths the size of Manhattan.
Fay was unexpectedly damaging, knocking out power to the vast majority of Bermuda’s residents.
Cleanup had to be expedited as Gonzalo quickly followed; Gonzalo was Bermuda’s strongest and most damaging hurricane since Fabian in 2003. Gonzalo left behind an estimated $200 million to $400 million in damage.
39. Fourteen Years of Rain in 24 Hours
(Alex Fuentes/AFP/Getty Images)
Chile's Atacama Desert is one of the world's driest places. The port city of Antofagasta picks up a mere 0.07 inches of rain a year.
In late March 2015, Antofagasta picked up almost an inch of rain in 24 hours -- 0.96 inches, to be precise.
While this may not sound like much, as senior digital meteorologist Nick Wiltgen noted, "Without soil and plant cover to help absorb rainfall, it just runs off instantly as torrents of water."
Unfortunately, this proved deadly.
The torrential rain flooded the Copiapo River, claiming at least nine lives. Chile's Deputy Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy called the flooding "the worst rain disaster to fall on the north in 80 years."
(FULL RECAP: Killer Floods Soak Chilean Desert)
"That extreme rainfall in South America wasn't just from an isolated thunderstorm, it was with a larger-scale pattern, they key being a very strong ridge of high pressure aloft, as has been the case with so many precipitation and temperature extremes in recent years," said Stu Ostro, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel, in an email.
"This may be the most extraordinary one so far, given that it involves both one of the world's driest locations and the coldest continent (referring to a possible Antarctica all-time record high set within days of this event), and at the same time no less, in the Southern Hemisphere."
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