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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Climate-Watch, December 1999

National Climatic Data Center - December 2, 1999
(last update March 01, 2000)
Tropical Cyclone 04B
Climatological Probabilities of a White Christmas
(Click on the image for a larger view)
* These are the long term average probabilities. Actual areal predicted snowfall conditions for Christmas will be based on your local weather forecasts issued close to Christmas day.

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Will We Have a White Christmas?

It's an age-old question that occurs to almost everyone this time of year. This report, created by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), contains maps and tables showing the percent probabilities for a snow depth of at least 1 inch on Christmas morning, as well as the probabilities for a depth of at least 5 inches and 10 inches. The "First Order" (U.S. major airport stations) Summary of Day Dataset for the period of 1961-1990 was used to compute these statistics. Only stations with at least 25 years of data were used and the '61-'90 period was chosen to coincide with the standard period for computing climatological normals. The complete report is available at Will We Have A White Christmas ?

The actual conditions may vary widely from these probabilities. The snow on the ground or snowfall on Christmas day will be based on the actual weather pattern during that time. These probabilities are useful as a guide only to show where snow on the ground is more likely. If you would like to keep track of the snowfall across North America on a daily basis, see the NOAA Operational Daily Snow Analysis Charts.

An archive of monthly individual station records can be found at Selected U.S. City and State Extremes.

Venezuela Floods Update - March 01, 2000

Deadly floods hit the South American country of Venezuela around mid-month. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans remained stranded without food or water Dec 20th, four days after massive mudslides and flooding left the nation reeling from the worst natural disaster in its history. As relief efforts moved forward, officials acknowledged that the death toll could reach 20,000, twice the number killed in 1998 when Hurricane Mitch hit Central America. International aid experts and local authorities say 35,000 homes were destroyed and 150,000 to 200,000 people were left homeless. They cautioned that the extent of death and destruction is not yet known and won't be until rescuers can reach rugged mountain and coastal areas. "There are bodies in the sea, there are bodies under mud, there are bodies everywhere," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said after touring parts of the Caribbean coast. Note: Current estimates indicate 20,000 fatalities.

Venezuela Map
larger image
"This is without a doubt the worst disaster I have seen in 12 years," said Nadine Ritcheson, an American Red Cross official who is heading the agency's disaster response in Caracas, the capital. She compared the affected area "to something from Virginia to Florida, going as far inland as Tennessee. It is incredible devastation with lots of very desperate people." The worst flooding was in Vargas state, just north of the capital Caracas, where authorities believe many people have been buried beneath the mud, boulders, and debris. Large swaths of Venezuela's northern coast were swept away on Wednesday (the 15th) when torrential rains triggered landslides that crashed down from a mountain separating Caracas from the Caribbean coast.

Elsewhere around the globe during early December, flooding was reported across portions of Africa. The BBC and Reuters reported that thousands of people are being evacuated ahead of flood-waters rising along the Congo River. It was also reported that water supplies to 50 percent of the population in Kinshasa, Zaire have been reduced. Recent dryness across parts of Paraguay and Argentina have led to some wildfires. A strong winter storm with strong winds, rains and snows battered parts of the British Isles, Scandinavia, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the Baltic Sea region during December 3-5th, 1999 with at least 17 deaths reported across northern Europe. Vietnam was also hit with another round of major flooding across central coastal areas, more than 70 people and leaving one million in need of emergency assistance, officials and relief workers said. Floods hit the same area in November and killed nearly 600 people.

Typhoon John hit the northwestern coast of Australia on the 15th, with winds gusting to 160 knots. John is the most powerful cyclone of record to hit Australia. The category five storm caused relatively minor damage to Australia's northwestern coast. Four hundred people were reportedly evacuated in advance of the storm, three iron ore mines temporarily suspended operations, and some 30 homes in Port Hedland, Roebourne and Wickham were reported to have experienced minor to severe roof damage. The Insurance Council of Australia estimated that the cost of the cyclone could reach $189 million (United States Dollars). See current Australian rainfall maps from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for more information.

European Storms Update - December 30, 1999

A powerful low pressure system produced heavy precipitation and high winds in portions of hit central Europe over the weekend. The storm on the image is centered over northeast France on the early (local) morning of the 26th.

NOAA-15 POES AVHRR 12/26/99 07:32 UTC Multichannel color composite Image

Western Europe experienced at least two rounds of storms late this month--one on the 26th, the other on the 28th. The first storm that swept across the continent early Sunday (26th) had winds as high as 219 km/h (136 mph), killing an estimated 50-65 people. Media reports indicate France bore the brunt of the killer storms, with Paris hit by its strongest winds in 50 years. Paris officials have asked the government to declare the city a "natural disaster area," and Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot said extensive damage to the country's public transport network would not be fixed before year-end. At least 70 people were reported dead in France, and over 2.0 million homes had no electricity. The French government declared a natural catastrophe across two-thirds of the country on Wednesday (29th) and mobilized 6,000 troops to clear debris and deliver drinking water to residents battered by the worst winter storm in decades.

The second round of storms on the 28th hit the southwest Atlantic coastal areas. Clear skies returned Wednesday (29th) after three days of fierce winds, rains and snow that killed a total of 122 people in Western Europe, including at least 70 in France. Storms and flooding also affected parts of Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and other areas. Heavy snowfall from the same storm front has led to maximum avalanche alerts in the French Alps. Heavy snow and rain also left more than 100 villages in central Romania without electricity.

Other global highlights for December 1999 can be found at NOAA/OGP Special Global Summary for December 1999.

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The Selected U.S. City and State Extremes provides a list of new records that were set across the U.S. during December 1999.

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For further information, contact:

Tom Ross
NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
151 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801-5001
fax: 828-271-4328
Specific requests for climatic data should be addressed to:

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