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Climate-Watch, March 2000

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National Climatic Data Center - March 02, 2000
(last update April 24, 2000)
Tropical Cyclone 04B
Liquid Water observed across Southeast Africa- March 1-5, 2000

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February and March 2000 brought devastating rains and floods to the southeastern portion of the African continent. Additional tropical systems brought more rains during the first half of March (Tropical Cyclone Gloria ). Floodwaters rushed downriver from neighboring countries, and arrived in Mozambique. One location in Madagascar received over 55 inches of rainfall during February through March. For data from many other stations in the area, click here.

Most of the flood victims are in central and southern Mozambique, an impoverished country of 19 million on Africa's southeast coast that has been deluged with floodwaters since torrential rains began at the beginning of February. Parts of Zimbabwe and Botswana also are devastated. Zimbabwe officials said that at least 80,000 people were left homeless by floods in the east and south of that country. But, they said the number could be far higher, since many of the flooded regions were inaccessible. In Botswana, 60,000 people had been left homeless by floods caused by four weeks of heavy rain, said Dineo Mogwe, chairwoman of the National Disaster Management Committee. Eight people had died, she said.

Update- March 7th

The floods have affected a million people, and officials warn that more heavy rain is ahead. "We are concerned about the weather. Rainfall of up to or above 50 mm could seriously affect rivers," said U.N. special envoy Ross Mountain. More contingents from the United States, Asia and Africa will arrive in the country to help it deal with the aftermath of its worst floods in living memory. The World Food Program (WFP) said it was urging Mozambicans in the flooded areas not to return home just yet. "We are appealing to people not to move back to their homes but to wait and see what happens with the weather in the next few days (7-9 March) ," WFP spokeswoman Brenda Barton said. Weather Bureau officials in Mozambique said rains in neighboring Zimbabwe and South Africa posed the greatest danger to Mozambique and its Limpopo River, which reached record depths last week. Even without more flooding, outbreaks of disease threaten more people than those who died beneath the muddy waters. Outbreaks of malaria and cholera were speeding through refugee camps. The scope of the tragedy was almost incomprehensible. With acres of crops destroyed, Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano said he expected his countrymen would need help for almost a year -- at least $250 million in aid -- until they could begin to harvest a new crop.

Update- March 15th

With relief efforts to Madagascar's northeast virtually completed, aid workers will now focus on the harder-stricken and less accessible east coast, an official said. The World Food Program has flown 25 tons of food to the northeast in preceding days, and French helicopters have helped in ferrying the food to flood victims. Rainy weather hampered the effort Tuesday afternoon (14th), and a shortage of fuel at the airport in the northeastern town of Sambava is also a hindrance. The floods have destroyed 90 percent of farmers' rice fields and all the crops, said Jennifer Overton, a regional health officer. Aid agencies also were planning programs to halt the spread of cholera, which has sickened 500 people in the past three days. Catholic Relief Services said it would educate flood victims about how to prevent cholera and distribute water purification materials to about 90,000 people on the east coast.

More than 1,350 people have been reported dead by the Health Ministry since the epidemic began one year ago, though the actual number of victims could be higher because many families don't report the deaths of relatives, fearing health authorities would violate customary burial traditions. See the CNN complete report for more information.

Elsewhere Around the Globe

Most of northern Australia received heavy rains from tropical cyclone Steve , which briefly reached hurricane force off the northwestern coast before weakening as it recurved southeastward and moved inland. Rainfall totals for the week ending on March 11th exceeded 100 mm (4.0 inches) across northwestern Northern Territory and in western and northern Western Australia.

It was a cold winter across Mongolia , as temperatures were 4 degrees below the long term average for the December 1999-February 2000 period. (See Asian-European Blended Winter Temperature Analyses on referenced page for more information.) In fact, in Mongolia according to news reports, an estimated 1.8 million herd animals, or about one of every 15 in the nation, have died, affecting a fifth of Mongolia's 2.6 million people, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says. The toll could rise to 5 million animals, the office warns, and if more aid from other countries is not provided by April or May, a half million Mongolians could be desperately short of food.

The current Climate Outlook features 10-day outlook for temperature, precipitation and soil moisture for various continents around the world.

Sandstorms have also been observed blowing westward off the northwest African coast into the eastern Atlantic during the latter part of February and early March.

Tri-State Tornado 75th Anniversary

March 2000 marks the 75th anniversary of the Tri-State Tornado which on March 18, 1925 ravaged southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, and southwest Indiana. The tornado was responsible for 695 deaths and over 2,000 injuries.

Fort Worth Twisters

Two tornadoes moved across Fort Worth, Texas on March 28th. Officials are assessing damage and injuries, and beginning to clean up after two tornadoes moved across the downtown area of the city. Preliminary news reports indicate that at least five people died and at least 50 people were injured. Fire Department Lt. Kent Worley told Cable News Network (CNN) that police had confirmed two deaths on the west side of the city where the twisters first touched down Tuesday evening. Two other people died in heavy flooding in the eastern portion of the county in the Arlington area. He said the main swath of destruction started just west of the city (Forth Worth) and cut "right through the heart of downtown." Current estimates indicate over $450 million in damages due to the tornadoes.

A fifth death was caused by baseball-sized hail which struck the victim in the head; he later died in the hospital. Large hailstones can fall at the rate of 90 miles per hour. Hail is dangerous but an infrequent killer. Other historical U.S. hail fatalities included one death in the 1700's, two deaths in the 1800's, and three deaths in the 1900's. The last recorded U.S. hail fatality was on July 30th, 1979 at Fort Collins, Colorado. See the CNN Forth Worth Twisters for more information.

Other global highlights for the month can be found at NOAA/OGP Special Global Summary for March 2000.

Top of Page Selected U.S. City and State Extremes

The Selected U.S. City and State Extremes provides a list of new records that were set across the U.S. during March 2000.

Top of Page Additional Resources

NCDC Climatic Extremes and Weather Events
NNDC Climate Data Online
NOAA Office of Global Programs (OGP) Rapid Response Project WWW Site
Additional NOAA OSEI Satellite Images
NCDC Storm Event Database
Links to Numerous Natural Disaster Web Sites
CNN African Flooding Report- March 2, 2000
CNN African Flooding Report-March 7, 2000
CNN African Flooding Report- March 18, 2000
CNN Mongolian Severe Winter Report- March 28, 2000

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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