Global Hazards - May 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.


Global Focus
Infrared satellite animation of showers and thunderstorms which brought flooding to Jamaica
Jamaican Flooding
A tropical disturbance brought heavy thunderstorms to Jamaica during the last 10 days of May, causing serious flooding across the island and resulting in at least 7 deaths (IFRC). Damage estimates from the flooding are near $6 million (USD), with around $1 million in damage to the Jamaican water supply system (Reuters).
Drought conditions
Drought continued to impact much of the prairie provinces of Canada, the western United States as well as the northern and central states of Mexico during May 2002. In Mexico, at least 17 states have registered economic damages due to the ongoing drought. The state of Tamaulipas declared losses of 300,000 hectares (741,000 acres) of agricultural land, while Coahuila reported the death of 4,000 cattle (CIP report). Click Here for the CAMS precipitation estimates for May 2002
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Click Here for a satellite image of forest fires affecting interior Alaska
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The dry conditions were conducive to the proliferation of wildfires, with several large fires affecting the southwestern United States and Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. Unusually warm weather across interior Alaska promoted wildfires which charred more than 20,000 hectares (49,600 acres). High temperatures in McGrath reached 27°C (80°F) or higher on 4 days during the month of May.
A severe heat wave which affected much of central and southeastern India during May 9-15 resulted in over 1,000 deaths as daily high temperatures reached as high as 50°C (122°F) (Associated Press). In neighboring Pakistan, at least 29 deaths were attributed to the high heat in the central and southern parts of the country (Press Trust of India). Monthly mean temperatures across the region were 1-3°C (1.8-5.4°F) above a 1988-2001 average. Click Here for temperatures across India on May 15, 2002
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Click Here for the CAMS precipitation estimates for Africa for March-May 2002
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The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) reported at least 10 million people are threatened by famine in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland. Ongoing drought in the region was characterized in Zimbabwe as the longest dry spell in the last 20 years (FAO).

In the Greater Horn of Africa, unseasonably dry weather, with rainfall less than 50% of normal, covered southern Ethiopia and most of Somalia as the rainy season came to an early halt. Abnormally dry weather prevailed over much of Tanzania, where monthly rainfall totaled less than 35% of normal.

Drought affected the extreme southeast coastal provinces of China, Taiwan and the Philippines. In China’s Guandong province, precipitation during March-May at Shantou was less than 25% of normal. Nearly 20-30% of the rice fields have been devastated, and most major reservoirs have dried up (CIP report). Click Here for the precipitation timeseries for Shantou, China for March through May, 2002
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Click Here for the CAMS precipitation estimates for Asia for March-May 2002
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In China’s Fujian province around 318,000 people and 92,000 head of livestock are suffering from drinking water shortages (CIP report). In the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, water services to residential areas were suspended for one out of every five days (The Straits Times). The Philippine Department of Agriculture reported that over 18,000 hectares (40,000 acres) of rice were lost due to drought.

Unusually warm and dry weather promoted hundreds of forest fires that swept over more than 54,000 hectares (133,000 acres) of the Russian Far East during the first two weeks of May. The fires threatened the habitats of endangered animals such as the Amur tiger and Siberian leopard (ENS news).

Across Australia, rainfall deficiencies affected parts of every state during the period March-April 2002, with some of the most severe drought conditions observed across parts of eastern Queensland. Rainfall in Brisbane during the last three months was less than 40% of normal. Click Here for the precipitation timeseries for Brisbane, Australia for March through May, 2002
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Heavy rainfall and flooding
Click Here for a satellite animation of thunderstorms affecting Nicaragua
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Thunderstorms producing torrential rain affected Nicaragua during the last week of May. The government of Nicaragua issued a state of emergency on May 30th, as flooding washed out roads and bridges and displaced around 3,000 people from their homes (Associated Press). Some of the worst flooding was around the capital city of Managua, where the airport was closed on the 28th due to extensive flooding in the city (CIP report).
Heavy rains across the southern peninsula of Haiti during May 24-26 triggered floods which washed away bridges and roads, eroded hillsides and destroyed livestock (CIP report). The most affected areas were the departments of Grand’Anse and Sud where at least 12 people were killed (OCHA). Click Here for infrared satellite animation of thunderstorms affecting Haiti
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Click Here for satellite estimates of precipitation totals across Africa during May 2002
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Since the April onset of the rainy season in Kenya, at least 72 people have died due to flooding, mainly in the western part of the country (AFP). Numerous rivers have flooded, displacing many from their homes. Some of the worst flooding occurred in the city of Budulangi located in Nyanza province. Mudslides in the vicinity of Mount Kenya claimed at least 15 lives (BBC).
Click Here for the precipitation timeseries for Buenos Aires, Argentina during March through May 2002
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Abnormally wet weather impacted northern Argentina, Uruguay and extreme southern Brazil throughout March and April 2002 and continued in May. Buenos Aires received more than double the normal March-May rainfall.
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Severe Storms
Severe thunderstorms, responsible for more than 20 deaths, affected Bangladesh on May 2nd and again on the 10th (OCHA). A period of active severe weather began across Bangladesh during late April 2002. Click Here for a satellite image of thunderstorms across Bangladesh
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Pakistan News Service reported that at least 14 people were killed and dozens injured when a severe thunderstorm affected the Punjab province on the night of May 27th. The storm caused power failures in the city of Multan, and damaged mango orchards and cotton crop in Lahore. Winds gusted to over 95 km/hr (~60mph) at the Lahore airport on the evening of the 27th as the storms moved through.

Rain and thunderstorms which affected Tunisia were blamed for the crash of an Egyptair jetliner on the 7th as winds gusted to over 100 km/hr (~60 mph) near the Tunis airport. The crash was responsible for at least 26 fatalities (CIP report).

Click Here for a radar reflectivity image of the tornadic thunderstorm near Happy, Texas
Radar image of severe
thunderstorms near Happy, TX
In the United States, a tornado ripped through the north Texas town of Happy on the evening of May 5th, killing two people and destroying 60 buildings (Associated Press). The tornado was one of at least 6 tornadoes reported across north Texas on the 5th.
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Tropical Cyclones
Click Here for a satellite image of tropical cyclone 01A before landfall in southern Oman
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Tropical Cyclone 01A developed in the Arabian Sea on the 6th and crossed the southern coast of Oman on the 10th with maximum sustained winds of 83 km/hr (45 knots or ~50 mph). The storm brought heavy rains and flooding to Zufar province, and the coastal city of Salalah received 57.9mm (2.28 inches) on the 10th. In Salalah, the normal rainfall for the entire month of May is just 17.1 mm (0.67 inches).
Tropical cyclone Kesiny made landfall along the northern tip of Madagascar on May 9, with maximum sustained winds near 110 km/hr (60 knots or 68 mph). The cyclone trekked slowly south into the interior of the Malagasy Republic before dissipating. Torrential rains ravaged the northern half of the country for days after the storm moved inland and weakened, with over 40 deaths attributed to flooding (AFP). In the port city of Toamasina, the country's second largest city, May rainfall totaled 1,271 mm (50 inches). The normal monthly amount is 228 mm (9 inches). Click Here for a satellite image of tropical cyclone Kesiny
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Click Here for a satellite image of tropical cyclone 02B inland across Myanmar
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Tropical Cyclone 02B developed in the Andaman Sea on the 10th and made landfall along the southern coast of Myanmar near Rangoon on the 11th with maximum sustained winds near 83 km/hr (45 knots or ~50 mph). Heavy rains occurred hundreds of miles inland across areas of northern Laos and Thailand, with flash flooding reported across mountainous areas of northern Vietnam during the 12th-14th.
Alma developed in the open waters of the eastern Pacific on May 24 and became the first hurricane in the east Pacific basin during the 2002 hurricane season on the 28th. Although the hurricane did not impact land areas, it did reach category-2 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale on the 30th. Click Here for an infrared satellite animation of hurricane Alma in the eastern Pacific Ocean
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Extratropical Cyclones
Click Here for an infrared satellite animation of an extratropical storm system that affected Chile
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A storm system that impacted central and southern Chile and the capital city of Santiago during May 24-27 brought serious flooding and mud slides. Nine people were killed and more than 67,000 were affected by four days of rain (IFRC).
A storm system at the beginning of May brought locally heavy rains and gusty winds to parts of France, Spain and Belgium. Click Here for a satellite image of a low pressure system affecting France, Spain and Belgium
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Northern Hemisphere storm tracks during the last 30 days are available courtesy of the Climate Diagnostics Center.

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Severe winter weather
Click here for the Alaska-Canada snow cover animation for May 2002
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An unusually cold airmass for late spring across much of Canada promoted a significant amount of late season snow cover across interior sections that persisted throughout much of May, as the mean jet stream position remained farther south across the United States. Heavy late season snowfall affected areas as far south as Montana in the United States during the first week of the month.
Meanwhile, warmer than average temperatures across higher latitude regions from Scandinavia eastward throughout much of northern Russia caused accelerated snowmelt, with snow cover limited to northern Siberia by the close of May. Click Here for the Europe-Asia snow cover animation for the month of May 2002
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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.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Hazards for May 2002, published online June 2002, retrieved on November 24, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/hazards/2002/5.