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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Climate-Watch, January 2002

National Climatic Data Center - (last update Feb 01,2002)

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Southern Snowfall Image

Satellite Snowfall Image from Southern U.S. Storm
(Click on the image for a larger view)
4 Jan 2002 - 1850Z* Note snowfall depticted from Georgia northeastward across the Carolina's, Virginia and Maryland.

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Eastern Russia and the Balkans Start out 2002 Cold and Stormy

According to media reports, the worst snowstorms in Russia's far east for 50 years cut electricity supplies and brought traffic to a standstill on the 8th. Armoured personnel carriers helped pull trolley buses up slopes in the streets of the Pacific coast port of Vladivostok, while fights broke out over limited places on public transport. According to an official at the meteorological center for the province of Primorye, "Such snowfalls are seen once every 50 years in Primorye (province). In the space of a few hours one-and-a-half times the monthly norm has fallen," and according to our forecasts, this snowfall could continue for another 24 hours." In Moscow, four people died from hypothermia in the capital overnight, Interfax news agency quoted emergency services there as saying. They estimated that a total of 297 people had been killed by the cold in the capital this winter. In Moscow, eight time zones west of Vladivostok, temperatures on Monday night fell to -27C (-16.6F) and -30 Celsius (-22F) in surrounding regions. Interfax, quoting forecasters, said so far this January had been the coldest for 24 years in central Russia, with the mercury dropping to -33C (-27.4F) in the first few days of the new year.

Weather Log - January 1-10th, 2002

According to media reports heavy snowfalls and low temperatures during the first week in January caused damage to property and crops. The Greek Minister stated, "This situation was unexpected. This was the worst weather in about 40 years,". The winter weather began in earnest on January 4th and wrapped central and southern Greece in a blanket of snow. Snow, as much as two metres (six feet) deep in some areas, caused power cuts across southern Greece and the northern Athens suburbs, where troops were called in to clear roads. Meteorologists said on the 6th, that the icy blast was the worst to hit Greece since 1963.

Seventeen people died of exposure in Moscow in the past week, bringing the winter death toll so far to 170, a city medical official says. Officials say most of the victims are homeless people or those who pass out on the street after drinking. Overnight temperatures have been as low as 12 degrees Celsius below freezing for over two weeks, making a hard life for homeless people. This may be more of a societal problem rather than an extreme climate event. The normal low temperature in December in Moscow is -10 C with an extreme monthly low of -27C.

Moderate to heavy snows hit parts of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia during the first week of January. Also, on the southeastern periphery of the snow, sleet and freezing rain fell, resulting in over 60,000 power outages. The hardest hit areas were in eastern North Carolina where 14 inches of snow were reported in parts of Nash, Halifax, Montgomery, Vance, Granville, and Person counties. See the following reports on the snowfall amounts.

Weather Log - January 11-20th, 2002

According to media reports, hailstones the size of tennis balls shattered windows, windscreens and the roof tiles of hundreds of homes as a vicious storm whipped through eastern Australia. The pounding rain from the storm, which struck the northeastern coast of New South Wales state late on the 16th, had earlier doused the last of the huge bushfires that had threatened the outskirts of Sydney since Christmas.

Interior Maine received heavy snows on the 15th and 16th of the month as an upper level system moved across the area. This system dumped persistent, moderate to heavy snowfall. Snowfall rates in the affected area were observed at 1"-2" an hour through most of the night of the 15th and into the 16th. Maine received a wide range of snowfall totals with 1" in the Princeton area to as high as 17" in Bucksport. This followed an earlier storm which rapidly deepened off the coast around the 13th of the month bringing heavy rains to coastal areas and over a foot of snow to downeast Maine.

Washington D.C. and Philadelphia both received their first accumulating snows over the weekend of the 19th and 20th. Generally about 2-5 inches of snow fell in the D.C. region and 4-8 inches fell in Philadelphia over a weekend period when traffic was lighter. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Saturday marked the fifth-latest date for a season's first snowfall in 120 years of record-keeping in southeastern Pennsylvania. It also was the sixth time since 1992 that the first snowfall held off until January, a phenomenon that occurred only about once a decade until the early 1990s. In the New York suburbs, about 5 inches fell while Central Park, NY., received about 2 inches of snow.

Weather Log - January 21-31st, 2002

Meanwhile, frigid cold is lurking well north of the continental Unites States. Temperatures on Monday morning were -50 F across portions of Canada in the provinces of Northwest territories and Nunavut.

In contrast as of the 21st, places like Fargo, ND and Omaha NE are running 8-15 degrees F above the mean temperature for January. Some stations in the northern Plains set new all-time record January maximum temperatures on the 25th and 26th. Temperatures were in the 60's and even low 70's in parts of the region. See the link below which gives more information about selected U.S. City and State Extremes for the month.

On the 22nd, powerful Tropical Cyclone Dina skirted Mauritius and Reunion to the north and west while continuing its trek over the southern Indian Ocean. Dina passed close enough to the aforementioned islands to unleash damaging winds and soaking rains. On the southeast side of Mauritius, the main airport clocked peak wind gusts of 90-95 mph, and rainfall was greater than 4.7 inches. Higher winds and heavier downpours lashed Port Louis, on the storm-ward side of the island.

A strong storm system hit western Finland on night between 24th and 25th. During the next 24 hours, Valkeakoski got a total of about 42 cm (16,5 inches) snow, which is 150 km (93 miles) from sea. The storm caused hundreds of car accidents, most of the ferries stayed on harbors, air ports were closed, trains were several hours late. Traffic over the longest bridge of Finland near Vaasa was stopped because of the strong wind and almost zero visibility. Also a large cargo ship was missing on the sea, but it was finally found on good condition. Fortunately no one was killed during this storm, although many were injured in car accidents. Some areas suffered from electric blackouts, but this time they were fixed in pretty short times, the longest blackout was about 2 hours.

According to media reports, seven people were killed on Monday (28th) as storm-force winds ripped across northern Britain, overturning vehicles, disrupting travel and leaving tens of thousands of homes without power. The storms cut a swath of destruction across Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland.

According to news reports, a powerful late January storm brought ice and heavy snows across the Plains, Great Lakes and into New England. As of the 31st, at least 15 deaths were been blamed on the slick roads and freezing temperatures. Heavy snow and freezing rain stranded airline passengers, shut down schools and left thousands without electricity across the Midwest. The storm had dumped about a foot of snow in parts of northern Illinois and Iowa including the Chicago area. In Oklahoma, entire cities were without power, as heavy ice toppled trees and downed power lines. Shelters were set up for those without heat. In Perry, decades-old elm and pecan trees snapped under the coating of ice and littered the streets. More than a foot of snow fell across New Mexico's high country. At least 14 people died in traffic accidents that were blamed on the weather, including three people in Nebraska, three in Oklahoma, three in Illinois, two in Kansas, two in Iowa and one in Missouri.

Note: Hazard event satellite images available courtesy of NOAA OSEI Satellite Images WWW site.

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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 January 2002.

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Top of Page Additional Resources