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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Climatic Data Center
Climate-Watch, July 2002

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Color satellite Image of Canadian forest fires

July 7, 2002 - Canadian Fires and Smoke.

Click on the POES (NOAA-14) satellite photo for a larger image

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Fires & Floods

Fires are causing problems in several areas across North America. Media reports stated, "Firefighters used sprinklers and firebreaks to try to tame dozens of forest fires in Quebec that have sent smoke as far south as Washington and led to health advisories in Quebec and in three U.S. states." At least 85 fires - 10 of them out of control - burned on the 7th, the Quebec forest fire protection service said. They have destroyed more than 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) of forest. Sparked by lightning and dry conditions, the fires have been burning since July 2 in two separate regions southeast of James Bay between 200 and 400 miles (320 to 640 kilometers) north of the U.S. border. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania officials advised residents with respiratory and heart conditions to stay indoors. The smoke plume extending into the Atlantic ocean is visible in the highlighted image.

Fires in the western US continue to cause major problems, with over 4 million acres burned as of July 31, 2002. Eight fatalities are now attributed to the fires--all in vehicle or aircraft accidents involving firefighters. Some excellent links to additional information include:
NOAA's fire weather information center
National fire news and statistics
Year-to-date fire statistics by state
Historical fire statistics
Fire statistics for the 1900's
Historically significant fires, 1825-present

Floods across Bangladesh, Texas and the Pacific have caused major damage and loss of life during the first week of July. In Bangladesh, nearly 100,000 persons have fled their homes after heavy rains and floodwaters from neighboring India inundated bordering northern and southeastern districts, officials said on the 6th.

The danger from flooding across Texas hasn't passed. So far, eight people have died. Over 40 inches of rain fell in a 7-day period in some locations just north of San Antonio. Runoff streaming toward the Gulf of Mexico could elevate river levels in east and east-central Texas, and there are fears of additional rainfall in coming days. In the San Antonio area, the heavy rains sent water surging over spillways and caused the Guadalupe River to rise over its banks. Heavy rain also pounded the Abilene region in west Texas. National Guard troops, helicopters and rescue boats were dispatched to several counties. Some troops stationed in evacuated neighborhoods are on the lookout for looters. The 48,000 residents affected by the flood, some of whom remain in shelters, were only beginning to realize the extent of the disaster as the floodwater ebbed. See the following flood images from southern Texas.

24 Texas counties are now on the list of federal disaster areas. The total includes several counties in the Abilene area of West Texas hit by flash floods July 6. Gov. Rick Perry said the counties affected by the floodwaters amounted to more than 33,000 square miles -- a larger area than Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined. Tilden, about 70 miles south of San Antonio, has been under water since July 4, due to rain and runoff from the headwaters of the Frio River in the western Hill Country. In Tilden, the Frio is normally about 20 yards wide. On July 9, the river was more than a mile wide. For additional information and data, see:
National Weather Service report about the event
Collection of rainfall reports from the area


Weather Log - July 1-10th, 2002

Elsewhere, Typhoon Rammasun was downgraded to a tropical storm, but two people died in the Korean peninsula as the storm crossed the region. The worst hit areas were along the southern and southwestern coasts where large sections of roads were swept away by floods or buried under landslides.

Also, Super Typhoon Chataan left a path of death and destruction across parts of the Pacific. In Guam, the storm brought some damage but no deaths; but earlier Chataan was responsible for 40 deaths and more than 100 injuries as it swept across the Federated States of Micronesia. Government officials say they expect the death toll to rise further as reports filter in from the outer islands. The weakening typhoon hit Japan's southern shores early on the 10th, and dumped heavy rains across the country, disrupting transportation nationwide but otherwise generally causing minimal damage.

Meanwhile, Typhoon Halong at 0600 GMT on the 10th, had winds of 95 kts, gusting to 115 kts. Halong is gaining strength and is forecast to increase its maximum sustained winds to 125 kts over the next two days. Early on the 10th, it was located about 65 nautical miles south-southwest of Guam and tracking westward at 7 kts. Guam had been left with no electricity and little water pressure in some areas from Typhoon Chataan which drove through the island last week. The U.S. territory has been declared a disaster area.

Record daily high temperatures seared parts of the West, with triple-digit readings in many states, and meteorologists say there's more sweating to come. Residents of more than a dozen cities endured record highs on Tuesday, including 112 at Lancaster; 109 at Sacramento; 106 at Medford, Ore., 103 at Grand Junction, Colo., 102 at Reno, Nev.; and 84 at Quillayute, Wash. Non-record readings included 114 at Needles. "Looks like the 10th is going to be the hottest day in this heat wave," said National Weather Service meteorologist Ken Newman in Monterey." Wednesday's forecast high for Reno, elevation 4,500 feet, was 107, which would be an all-time record, the National Weather Service said."

A new planting guide index is coming to gardeners trying to figure out what kinds of plants to grow around their homes. It's the most comprehensive guide yet when it comes to selecting plants based on cold weather survival and heat tolerance. Understanding the effects of both extremes along with soil moisture is a key to successful gardening. Two gardening leaders are linking their products: The USDA's Plant Hardiness Zone Map and the American Horticultural Society's Plant Heat Zone Map . The new map will incorporate weather data from the past 12 years. The new map, due out during the Fall of 2002, will reflect warmer temperatures recorded during the last decade.


Weather Log - July 11-20th, 2002

The Brahmaputra River, one of Asia's largest, was close to breaking its banks on the 11th, after rains worsened flooding in northeastern India and neighboring Bangladesh. Monsoonal flooding of several tributaries of the Brahmaputra has already inundated more than 1,000 villages, driving 700,000 people from their homes, said officials in India's Assam state. In Bangladesh, more than half a million people have been stranded in flooded villages or lost houses, crops and livestock. Rains and overflowing rivers have submerged 20 percent of Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers.

U.S. Drought: The drought across parts of the southeast, high plains, and western states continues to worsen. Agricultural losses are mounting, with $170 million and climbing now estimated for North Carolina alone. For some farmers in the south, any rains now are already too late for the corn crop, but would be beneficial for other crops such as soybeans and cotton. The fruit crops, such as peaches, have benefited from deeper root systems and from irrigation, but fruit size is well below normal in many areas. For other information, see:
U.S. Drought Monitor map and report
48-month precipitation percentiles map
48-month standardized precipitation index map

A deadly hailstorm of giant hailstones, some the size of eggs, killed 25 people and left hospitals overflowing with head-wound victims in central China. The hailstorm struck northern parts of Henan province on Friday evening, uprooting trees, smashing car windscreens, cutting off electricity and destroying buildings. Locals described it as the worst hailstorm in at least half a century. According to media reports, more than 800 people have died in floods and torrential rains across China this year and officials are now bracing for flooding worse than that of 1998, when the Yangtze River overflowed and deluges killed more than 4,000 nationwide.

Heavy rains flooded five regions in Romania on the 19th. Worst affected was Constanta, which borders the Black Sea, where flood waters drowned more than 100 pigs and chickens, inundated 800 hectares (1,980 acres) of sunflower and corn crops and flooded eight farms and houses. Flooding also hit the southern county of Prahova where bridges, roads and farms were under water. Thirty-seven villages in northeastern Romania were without electricity because of the floods, a government statement said.

Torrential rains killed at least three people in flash floods across Northeastern Iran on the 20th. Government sources, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported that 15 minutes of torrential rain caused flash flooding in several areas. Flooding near the city of Quchan killed one person, two others died in the city of Shirvan and several homes in villages were also damaged.


Weather Log - July 21-31, 2002

According to media reports, floods killed at least nine people and left 25 missing in southern China, raising fears that another wave of deluges may engulf wide parts of the country as the rainy season bites, state media said on the 22nd. After about 800 people were killed in May and June by pre-wet season floods. Torrential rains in the past few days have sparked flash floods in hilly areas of the southern province of Guangdong.

Floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains killed at least 11 people on the 22nd and 23rd in Nepal, bringing to 67 the number of deaths caused by bad weather over the past two weeks, police said. Mountain rivers spilled their banks on the 23rd after three days of heavy rains, flooding hundreds of villages in the Himalayan nation's southern plains bordering India. Floods and landslides are common in this part of Asia during the monsoon season that begins in June and continues through September.

Dry conditions have driven rats from their usually well-hidden nests to forage for water and food in the wealthy neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades in southern California. The nocturnal critters aren't newcomers to these neighborhoods. Generally, though, they stay hidden in dense foliage. But this year, the drought is cutting into their usual water and food sources. That's forcing the rats to make daring forays into well-manicured backyards and trendy restaurants in their effort to survive.

Typhoon Fengshen roared on toward Japan's southern islands of Kyushu and Okinawa, with the Meteorological Agency saying it could hit land as early as the 25th. Fengshen was moving west with surface winds of up to 78 mph after sweeping past Chichijima, an island in the Pacific Ocean about 620 miles south of Tokyo, earlier Wednesday, the agency said. The agency warned of high waves of up to 30 feet near the center of the typhoon. The typhoon is expected to continue travelling along the southern end of the Japanese archipelago and could hit southern Kyushu as early as Thursday, the agency said. Fengshen, a Chinese word meaning the god of wind, follows two typhoons earlier this month that killed five people and injured 27 others in Japan.

Flash floods and landslides continue to affect Nepal. Incessant monsoon rains during the 23-26th, have triggered flash floods and landslides in twenty districts out of a total of 75 districts. Since the landslides in eastern Nepal, which killed 44 people, on 14 July, a total of 198 people have been killed, 115 injured, and 30 people went missing, according to the latest information provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA). The official national news agency has reported that about 100,000 people in 50 villages have been directly affected by water-logging in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

See the latest NOAA Media Release - More than one-third of the contiguous U.S. in a drought.

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


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 July 2002.


Top of Page Additional Resources