Global Hazards - April 2002


Please note: Material provided in this report is chosen subjectively and included at the discretion of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The ability to report on a given event is limited by the amount of information available to NCDC at the time of publication. Inclusion of a particular event does not constitute a greater importance in comparison with an event that has not been incorporated into the discussion. Data included in this report are preliminary unless otherwise stated. Links to supporting information are valid at the time of publication, but they are not maintained or changed after publication.



Top of Page Special Highlight

Heat signatures from large forest fires were visible via NOAA polar orbiting satellites during April 2002 over parts of Honduras, Nicaragua and Belize. Central America has been experiencing drought conditions for the past 2 years, contributing to conditions suitable for wildfires.


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Top of Page Asia (Click for map)

At least 16 million people were short of drinking water across China as one of the worst droughts in decades affected the country (BBC News). Across the southeast coastal province of Guangdong, rainfall in April was over 100 mm (3.94 inches) below average, curtailing agriculture and affecting already low reservoir storage. Drought conditions extended south across Taiwan, where water was shipped in from China due to the acute shortages of drinking water.

CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates across Asia in April 2002
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Ssatellite imagery of forest fires across southern Vietnam
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A prolonged dry season across southeast Asia resulted in major wildfires across the southern half of Vietnam, where well over 2,500 hectares (6,000 acres) were charred.



Strong thunderstorms affected Bangladesh during the 22nd-30th, with 23 deaths and around 100,000 people affected (UN OCHA). Rain and wind destroyed thousands of huts and damaged thousands of hectares of crops.

In India, a tornado devastated several villages in the state of West Bengal on April 3rd. The tornado killed 5 people, destroyed over 400 houses and rendered 5,000 people homeless (The Times of India).

Flooding rains hit the western Afghanistan province of Badghis on the 23rd, destroying 500 houses, affecting 1,200 people and resulting in at least 2 deaths (UN OCHA). Recent rains and a mild winter across northern Afghanistan have caused the proliferation of locusts which threaten emerging crops. The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) estimated that about 9 million Afghans (about 40% of the population) with need about 275,000 tons of food aid until the harvest in July. In southern and central Iran, 11 deaths were attributed to flooding that swept across the region during the 14th-16th (COMTEX).

Thunderstorms and flooding affected desert areas of Saudi Arabia, with 70 mm (2.76 inches) of rain falling at Hafr Al-Batin (located in the northern part of the country) on the 7th. Over 60% of the normal annual precipitation fell in just one day.

Persistent upper level ridges of high pressure (denoted by positive 500 millibar height anomalies) promoted warmer than average temperatures across eastern China northward to the Kamchatka peninsula. Monthly mean temperatures were between 1 and 3°C (1.8-5.4°F) above average. An upper level trough of low pressure (denoted by negative 500 millibar height anomalies), corresponded to much cooler weather conditions from Turkey eastward to Mongolia, where monthly temperature departures were -1 to -4°C (-1.8 to -7.2°F) cooler than a 1968-1996 average (NCEP reanalysis).

Asian temperature anomalies for April 2002
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Top of Page Europe (Click for map)

Above average warmth across a large part of Europe was associated with a strong upper level ridge of high pressure centered over Scandinavia. Temperatures were 1-3°C (1.8-5.4°F) above a 1992-2002 average over most of the region, with snow cover rapidly retreating across Norway, Sweden and Finland by the end of the month.

European Temperature Anomalies map
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April 2002 precipitation timeseries for Paris
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Precipitation was below average over much of France, with monthly departures of -25 to -50 mm (-0.98 to -1.97 inches). In Paris, only 9.4 mm (0.37 inches) of rain fell, which is just 20% of normal for April.

Rainfall was above average across Ireland, with drier conditions observed farther south across the remainder of the United Kingdom. The UK Met Office reported the sunniest April since 1990 across England and Wales.

CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates for Europe during April 2002
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Top of Page Australia and Indonesia  (Click for map)
Australian temperature anomalies for April 2002
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April was a warm month across most of Australia, with temperatures running 1-3°C (1.8-5.4°F) above a 1992-2002 mean.

Rainfall was below average across most of the country, with high pressure systems centered south of the Great Australian Bight dominating southern and eastern sections of Australia with predominately fair weather. Rainfall deficiencies affected parts of every state, with the most notable precipitation deficits across parts of Queensland and South Australia.

CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates for Australia for April 2002
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Precipitation timeseries for Sydney for April 2002
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April 2002 rainfall in Sydney was approximately half of normal for the month.

Tropical Cyclone Bonnie developed in the Timor Sea on the 10th and brought locally heavy rains and gusty winds to Timor and Sumba during the 10th-11th. Flash flooding associated with the storm killed 19 people on Sumba (COMTEX). The cyclone also caused a moist northeast wind flow that brought near to above average rainfall to northern Western Australia.

Satellite image of tropical cyclone Bonnie
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Across Indonesia, locally heavy showers and thunderstorms triggered flooding and landslides across parts of the country. Rains which fell on the 7th-8th caused flooding along the Pesangrahan River affecting some areas of South Jakarta (Jakarta Post). On Papua New Guinea, a landslide which occurred in the Markham District in Marobe Province claimed at least 8 lives and buried three villages after heavy rains triggered the collapse of a cliff (BBC News).


Top of Page Africa (Click for map)

With mainly light monthly rainfall (<100 mm or 3.94 inches) across the southern African nations of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, long-term dryness resulted in decreasing food and water supplies. In Malawi, famine caused by the food shortages affected 75 percent of the country’s 11 million people (BBC News). A cholera epidemic has killed more than 500 people since the outbreak began in November (AFP). In neighboring Mozambique, more than 50,000 people faced food shortages and another 250,000 have water shortages in the central district of Chibabava due to drought (CIP report). The government of Mozambique estimated that 200,000 people had been seriously affected by drought conditions. Little relief from the ongoing drought is anticipated in the near-term as the dry season typically begins in June across this region.

CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates for Africa in April 2002
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The Zimbabwe Republic Police reported an increase in poaching as many people used the illegal activity to supplement their food. The rise of poaching on game reserves has threatened protected species such as the black rhino.

Precipitation estimates for April 2002 from geostationary satellite
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Concentrated areas of showers and thunderstorms associated with the axis of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone occurred across equatorial areas of central Africa as precipitation was 100-150 percent of normal. Heavy rains during the 15th-19th caused flooding across southern Nigeria, flooding parts of the coastal city of Lagos. In Ghana, torrential rains caused floods along the Odaw River near Accra around the 8th. Despite the flooding, the beginning of the rainy season brought much needed water to replenish area reservoirs.

Heavy rains across areas of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya brought drought relief but subsequent flooding. Excessive rainfall in the eastern mountains of Ethiopia during the 16th-19th produced floods that displaced at least 4,000 people (UN OCHA). In nearby, Somalia, at least 6 people died and many others injured as floods impacted the capital city of Mogadishu (UN IRIN). In Kenya, more than 20,000 people were displaced from their homes as floods affected the districts of Kisumu, Nyando and Rachuonyo (All Africa Global Media).

Temperatures in April 2002 were 1-3°C (1.8-5.4°F) above average across South Africa, Namibia and Botswana as well as Niger, Chad and the Sudan. Notable areas of cooler weather were restricted to Mali and Mauritania where monthly mean temperatures were 1-3°C (1.8-5.4°F) cooler than the 1992-2002 average.

Temperature anomalies across Africa during April 2002
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Top of Page North and Central America (Click for map)

CAMS temperature anomalies for North America
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The mean position of the jet steam during the month of April was just south of the U.S./Canadian border. This allowed for above normal temperatures (1-3°C or 1.8-5.4°F above average) to cover the southern two-thirds of the United States and the northern half of Mexico. For more detailed information on temperatures across the United States, see the national analysis.
Temperature anomalies across North America for April 2002
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North of the jet stream, an unusually cold, late season arctic air mass promoted temperatures that were 3-5°C (5.4-9°F) below a 1968-1996 average throughout much of central and western Canada (Based on NCEP Reanalysis data).

Across the United States, the first tornado related death of the 2002 severe weather season occurred on April 21 in Wayne County Illinois. This was the furthest the nation has gone into any year without a tornado related death since record keeping began in 1950. Severe thunderstorms produced a tornado that ripped through Charles, Calvert and Dorchester counties in Maryland, reaching F4 intensity on the Fujita scale near the town of La Plata on the evening of April 28th. The storm injured more than 100 people, including numerous fatalities.

Satellite image depicting Maryland tornado damage
NASA EO-1 Satellite Image
Depicting La Plata, MD Tornado Damage Path
Courtesy of NASA GSFC EO-1 Science Team

Drought intensified across the western U.S. as the dry season drew closer. The drought-affected region spanned the Canadian prairies, southward through Montana, Wyoming and the Four Corners region, and across a large expanse of northern and central Mexico. The National Livestock Federation of Mexico reported that 40 percent of the 9 million cattle in much of central and northern Mexico suffer from a lack of water and run the risk of dying (CIP report). See the U.S. drought pages for more information on national drought conditions.

North American wetness product for April 2002
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CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates for April 2002
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Drier than average conditions persisted across Guatemala in April, where long-term drought has developed since Hurricane Mitch devastated the region in late October/early November 1998. Nearly 6,000 of Guatemala’s 60,000 malnourished children are in danger of starvation (UN WFP). The United Nations (WFP) estimated that 16% of children under 5 suffered from serious malnutrition.

Top of Page South America (Click for map)

Precipitation estimates across South America from geostationary satellite during April 2002
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A belt of heavy tropical rains stretched across the Amazon Basin in northern Brazil, and included much of eastern Venezuela, Guyana and Surinam, where monthly precipitation was 50-150 mm (1.97-5.91 inches) above a 1979-1995 average.
Rainfall in the Brazilian city of Vitoria, located in the northern part of the country, was 36 mm (1.42 inches) above normal during April. Precipitation timeseries for Vitoria, Brazil during April 2002
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CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates across South America during April 2002
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Other areas of above average precipitation fell across parts of the Pampas region of Argentina as well as all of Uruguay.
Temperature anomalies across South America for April 2002
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Across southern Brazil and throughout much of Paraguay, April 2002 temperatures were 1-3°C (1.8-5.4°F) warmer than average. Elsewhere across South America, monthly temperatures were within 1°C (1.8°F) of a 1992-2002 mean.

Top of Page 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.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Hazards for April 2002, published online May 2002, retrieved on October 20, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/hazards/2002/4.