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Climate of 2001 - March
Global Regional Analysis

National Climatic Data Center, 12 April 2001
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Click Here for the African Wetness map African Wetness

The featured product above is the African wetness anomaly map. The most significant positive wetness anomalies occurred across southern Africa and included portions of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia where at least 2 months of above normal rainfall has resulted in considerable flooding. Persistent heavy rains, which were exacerbated by the development of Tropical Cyclone Dera in the Mozambique Channel around March 9, continued ongoing flooding. World Vision and the Mozambique News Agency have reported that 84 people have been killed by the floods near the swollen Zambezi River and that the number of people displaced by flood waters rose to 235,000 in the four affected provinces of Mozambique (Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia). In neighboring Zimbabwe, nearly 30,000 people have been affected with 13 fatalities reported. Severe flooding affected this same region one year ago this month. Additional global regional information is available below.

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Contents of This Report:

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Top of Page North American Blended Temperature

Below average temperatures affected much of the eastern United States and anomalously deep snowcover was observed across the northern Plains and into the northeast sector of the United States. A negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) prevailed during March which brought the colder-than-average weather and a storm track that was displaced farther to the south. Welcome rains fell on parched areas of the southeast while drier weather prevailed across the Ohio Valley and Midwest. Temperatures across the western U.S. and much of Canada were at least 2-4C (3.6-7.2F) above average. Click Here for the North American Blended Temperature map
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Top of Page European/Asian Wetness

An active storm track from the North Atlantic, due in part to the negative NAO phase, brought above normal precipitation to much of western and central Europe. Paris, France received particularly heavy rains around the 21st which resulted in flooding along the Seine River. Eighteen villages around the city of Lyon were flooded as the Rhone-Saone River rose above flood stage. The rainfall in western and northern France has been up to 3 times the average level.

Click Here for the European/Asian Wetness map
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The UK Meteorological Office reported that England and Wales have received more rainfall during the period April 1, 2000 to March 20, 2001 than any such 12-month period on record. Nearly 51 inches (130 cm) of rain fell during this time which was the most since records began in 1766. Farther east, more serious flooding was observed in Hungary along the Tisza River on the 9th. This is the third March in a row with flooding in this region due to heavy rains and seasonal snowmelt. The Associated Press (AP) reported that the Tisza rose to a level of 25 feet (7.6 meters) at the village of Zahony which was its highest level in 100 years. CNN also reported that 65 square miles of land was inundated and nearly 30,000 people were displaced from their homes. Additional serious flooding was reported in parts of Romania and the western Ukraine. The UN Office for the Coordination of International Affairs (OCHA) reported that 9 people had died in the Ukraine as a result of the flooding, with over 1,700 buildings destroyed.
Meanwhile, negative wetness anomalies were noted from the eastern Mediterranean through the former Soviet Union and into the Middle East. Severe drought conditions continued across the province of Badakhshan in Afghanistan where at least 300 people have died according to various media sources. The drought is affecting the entire country as the cold winter has exhausted food supplies and famine is widespread. Drought conditions that have plagued neighboring Pakistan for the past 3 years are expected to result in another very poor harvest this year.

Top of Page European/Asian Snow Cover Duration

Click Here for the Europe/Asian Snow Duration map
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Colder than average temperatures across northern Europe also promoted increased snow cover during the month. A significant winter storm dumped heavy snow on parts of the United Kingdom on the 20th impacting travel and closing schools and businesses. The same storm system also adversely affected air travel in Norway. Meanwhile, warmer conditions prevailed across eastern Europe and the Mediterranean resulting in below-average snowpack duration.

Top of Page European/Asian Blended Temperature

Click Here for the European/Asian Blended Temperature map
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Considerable contrasts characterized the temperature profile across Europe. While much of northern Europe including Scandinavia experienced negative temperature anomalies of -2 to -3C (-3.6 to -5.4F), upper level ridging across the Mediterranean region promoted warm anomalies over 4C (7.2F). The warmer and drier weather promoted increased fire danger, as was the case in parts of Greece with numerous forest fires reported. The country also reported the highest recorded temperatures for March in over 100 years. In north Africa, the temperature soared to 39C/102F at Medenine, Tunisia during the week of the 26th.

Top of Page Asian Snow Cover Duration

The above normal snowfall and much below normal temperatures across Mongolia have resulted in that country's second consecutive winter disaster. The Mongolian State Civil Defense Board reported that the number of dead livestock as of March 15 was 1.5 million and this figure was expected to rise. In contrast, negative snow cover duration anomalies dominated much of southern Europe eastward through the former Soviet Union. The Europe/Asian Snow/Ice Cover Loop shows gradually retreating snow cover across these regions during the month as conditions began to improve. Click Here for the Asian Snow Cover Duration map
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Top of Page Australian Blended Temperature

Warm weather during the beginning of the month across most of South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria was offset by a significant cool spell during the last 2 weeks of March. Negative temperature anomalies of -2 to -6C (-3.6 to -10.8F) were prevalent across South Australia, Western Australia, the northern and central Northern Territory and Queensland. The negative anomalies across the Northern Territory were due in part to persistent cloud cover and heavy tropical rains. Click here for the Australian Blended Temperature map
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Top of Page Australian Wetness

Click here for the Australian Wetness map
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Long term drought conditions persisted across southwestern parts of Western Australia as little precipitation fell in this portion of the continent. Dry weather also persisted across northern and eastern Queensland where precipitation deficits continued to adversely affect the southeastern part of that state. In sharp contrast, heavy tropical rains, partly associated with the dying remains of tropical cyclone Abigail early in the month, affected northeast parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, many areas received between 200-400mm (7.9-15.8 inches) of rainfall during the month. Additional flooding was reported across New South Wales and various media sources indicated that parts of the area were declared a natural disaster zone.

Top of Page South American Wetness

In South America, positive wetness anomalies were located across portions of Peru and Bolivia. Flooding has been reported by Peru's National Institute of Civil Defense and has affected the departments of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua, Tacna and Puno with over 40,000 people affected. Flooding in neighboring Bolivia has displaced over 50,000 families, with the area around La Paz the hardest hit.

Click here for the South American Wetness map
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Additional positive anomalies occurred across east-central Argentina where as much as 200-300mm (7.9-11.8 inches) of rainfall fell in portions of Cordoba and Buenos Aires provinces. In contrast, northern and southern parts of Argentina were abnormally dry with wildfires noted via satellite across these areas.

Top of Page South American Blended Temperature

Significant positive temperature anomalies continued over much of southern South America, extending from Chile eastward across Argentina and Uruguay. Temperature departures ranged from 2 to 6C (3.6 to 10.8F) across this region, as above normal warmth which began in late February continued.
During this warm period, maximum temperatures exceeding 30C (86F) were common in this region with highs in Argentina reaching 39C (102F) at Chamical and 40C (104F) at La Rioja. Click Here for the South American Blended Temperature map
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Elsewhere, temperatures were near or slightly below normal across the remainder of the continent, with the coldest anomalies of -2 to -3C (-3.6 to -5.4F) restricted to the southern tip of Argentina and Chile.

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References:

Basist, A., N.C. Grody, T.C. Peterson and C.N. Williams, 1998: Using the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager to Monitor Land Surface Temperatures, Wetness, and Snow Cover. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 37, 888-911.

Peterson, Thomas C. and Russell S. Vose, 1997: An overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network temperature data base. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 78, 2837-2849.

For all climate questions other than questions concerning this report, please contact the National Climatic Data Center's Climate Services Division:

Climate Services Division
NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
151 Patton Avenue, Room 120
Asheville, NC 28801-5001
fax: 828-271-4876
phone: 828-271-4800
email: ncdc.orders@noaa.gov

For more information, refer also to ...
SSMI Derived Products
Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN)
The Blended GHCN - SSM/I Product
The Global Temperature Anomalies
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For further information on the historical climate perspective presented in this report, contact:

Scott Stephens
NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
151 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801-5001
fax: 828-271-4328
email: Scott.Stephens@noaa.gov
-or-
Jay Lawrimore
NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
151 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801-5001
fax: 828-271-4328
email: jay.lawrimore@noaa.gov
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