Global Hazards - August 2003


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
Summer temperature anomalies for France
Summer Heat Wave Affects Europe
Global Hazards and Significant Events August 2003
Average temperatures across France and much of Europe were the warmest on record for the June-August period, as a prolonged heat wave affected the region. Additional information can be found below.

Drought conditions
Record-setting heat in the western U.S. during July accentuated drought conditions in August, with severe to exceptional drought noted throughout much of the Intermountain region. Click Here for the Drought Monitor depiction as of August 20, 2003
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Numerous wildfires continued to burn across the western United States, although year-to-date wildfire activity was below the 10-year average. Smoke from wildfires in parts of Canada and Montana affected much of the Plains on the 21st. Click Here for a map of active wildfires as of August 27, 2003
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For a detailed assessment of drought conditions across the United States, see the U.S. drought pages.

Temperatures across Europe on August 7, 2003 at 1200 UTC
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A severe heat wave that began in Europe during July continued in early August. In the United Kingdom, temperatures on the 6th reached 36.4°C (98°F) at Gravesend-Broadness, which was the highest temperature recorded anywhere in the country since August 3, 1990 (37.1°C/98.8°F at Cheltenham)(UK Met Office). On August 10, the all-time maximum temperature record was broken in the United Kingdom, with 38.1°C (100.6°F) at Gravesend-Broadness (Kent).
In France, the summer was declared the hottest since at least World War II (BBC News). Health ministry officials in France announced that over 11,000 people had died of heat-related causes during the period from late July through mid August (Reuters/Associated Press). In Slovenia, temperatures reached their highest levels of the past 100 years (Disasterrelief.org). Numerous wildfires burned throughout the region. Click Here for the temperature anomalies across Europe during June-August 2003
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Temperature anomalies across Europe during June-August 2003
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Dry, hot weather also caused acute drought conditions throughout much of Europe. Officials in Croatia said the country was suffering from the worst drought in 50 years, with the main river, the Sava, at its lowest level in 160 years (BBC News).
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Heavy rainfall and flooding
In Sudan, heavy rains during August 1-3 produced flooding that was blamed for at least 20 deaths across the country (Reuters). Flooding along the Gash river near Kassala, which is located about 450 km (280 miles) east of the capital city of Khartoum, was described as the worst in 70 years. Click Here for the 7-day precipitation estimates from the NASA TRMM satellite
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At least one million people were affected by seasonal monsoon rains in southern Pakistan. Heavy rains, which began in July, caused 162 deaths in Pakistan as of August 3, with 153 of the fatalities in the Sindh province (AFP). More than half a million houses had been damaged or washed away in an area more than 1,000 square kilometers (400 square miles) in size. In Nepal, floods from monsoon rains had claimed 205 lives and destroyed over 3,000 houses (OCHA).

In the United States, thunderstorms on the 19th brought some of the heaviest rainfall and flooding to the Las Vegas, Nevada area since 1999. As much as 75 mm (3 inches) of rain fell in parts of the area in just 30 minutes, producing widespread flooding and prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency (Las Vegas Sun).

In China, at least 86 people were killed and $700 million reported in losses (Reuters) due to flooding, landslides and Typhoon Dujuan in August and early September. Twelve days of heavy rain in the northern province of Shaanxi led to some of the worst flooding in 40 years for the region. Approximately 4.9 million people were affected by the flooding (Reuters). Details of Typhoon Dujuan can be be found below.

For an archive of flood events worldwide, see the Dartmouth Flood Observatory.

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Severe Storms
A cold frontal passage signaled the end of the heat wave for much of Europe, although strong thunderstorms associated with the front brought severe weather to parts of southern France and Spain. The storms produced flooding and scattered power outages as they affected the region on the 17th. Click Here for a satellite animation depicting strong thunderstorms across areas of Spain and France on August 17, 2003
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Severe weather reports across the United States on August 26, 2003
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In the United States, a derecho associated with a cluster of severe thunderstorms affected parts of the Ohio Valley eastward through sections of the Mid-Atlantic. There were numerous reports of wind damage as the storms rolled through the region on the 26th.
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Tropical Cyclones
Satellite image of Typhoon Morakot on August 4, 2003
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Typhoon Morakot: developed in the western Pacific Ocean on the 1st and reached typhoon strength by the 3rd. Morakot then tracked westward across southern Taiwan on the 4th with maximum sustained winds of 120 km/hr (65 knots or 75 mph). Morakot made landfall and weakened across southeastern China's Fujian province by the 5th.
Typhoon Etau: developed in the western Pacific Ocean on the 3rd and attained typhoon status by the 4th. Etau crossed Japan during the 8-10th, with maximum sustained winds near 165 km/hr (90 knots or 105 mph) as it skirted Shikoku on the 8th. More than 400 mm (16 inches) of rain fell on parts of Hokkaido, flooding more than 1,000 homes. Etau was responsible for 8 deaths in Japan (Associated Press). Click Here for a satellite image of Typhoon Etau on August 7, 2003
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Satellite image of Tropical Storm Vamco on August 20, 2003
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Tropical Storm Vamco: developed in the Philippine Sea on the 19th and crossed into southeast China's Fujian and Zhejiang provinces on the 20th. Maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were near 65 km/hr (35 knots or 40 mph), and the storm produced heavy rainfall and localized flooding across the northern Philippines and southeastern China.
Typhoon Krovanh: formed on the 15th in the open waters of the western Pacific Ocean and achieved typhoon status by the 21st. Krovanh made landfall along the coast of Vietnam near the border with China on the 25th. The storm was the strongest typhoon to strike Vietnam in more than a decade, killing one person and destroying nearly 1,000 homes (Disasterrelief.org). In neighboring China, more than 11,000 homes were destroyed in Guangdong and Hainan provinces. It was the twelfth typhoon to affect China in 2003. Click Here for a satellite image of Typhoon Krovanh on August 25, 2003
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Satellite image of Tropical Storm Erika south of Brownsville, TX on August 16, 2003
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Tropical Storm Erika developed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on the 14th and crossed into northern Mexico about 70 km (45 miles) southeast of Brownsville, TX in the United States on the 16th. Maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were near 110 km/hr (60 knots or 70 mph). No significant damage or flooding was reported in south Texas, although trees were downed and roof damage occurred along the coast of northern Mexico (Associated Press).
Hurricane Ignacio: developed off the west coast of Mexico on the 21st and became a hurricane by the 24th as it entered the Gulf of California. Ignacio made landfall along Mexico's Baja Peninsula on the 26th, bringing very heavy rainfall and maximum sustained winds near 120 km/hr (65 knots or 75 mph). The storm battered the city of La Paz for more than 48 hours with strong winds and flooding rains. The La Paz airport and area schools were closed, and around 10,000 people evacuated to emergency shelters. By the 27th, Ignacio had weakened into a tropical depression as it tracked over the central Baja Peninsula. Click Here for a satellite image of Huricane Ignacio on August 25, 2003
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A strong category 4 typhoon at is peak, the eye of Typhoon Dujuan passed close to the southern tip of Taiwan with peak winds at 230 km/hr (125 knots or 145 mph). Two fatalities in Taiwan were attributed to the powerful storm before it began weakening as it approached the coast of China. Dujuan swept ashore in the Guangdong province of China on the 2nd and 3rd of September killing at least 38 people (Reuters). According to the Xinhua News Agency, about 1,000 people were injured in southern China as a result of the Typhoon. Click Here for a satellite image of Typhoon Dujuan on September 2nd, 2003
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Click Here for a Infrared satellite image of Hurricane Fabian on September 1st, 2003
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Hurricane Fabian developed in the eastern Atlantic from a tropical wave on the 27th of August, several hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. Fabian became a tropical storm on the 28th and a hurricane on the 29th, and reached 'major hurricane' status (category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale) on the 30th. Fabian reached category 4 strength on the 31st, but did not reach maximum windspeeds of 230km/hr (125 knots or 145 mph) until September 1st. The September hazards page contains more details of Hurricane Fabian and its impact on the island of Bermuda.
Tropical Storm Grace developed in the Gulf of Mexico on the 30th and moved ashore near Port O'Connor, Texas on the 31st with maximum sustained winds near 65 km/hr (35 knots or 40 mph). Heavy rainfall was the primary impact of Grace, with 50-130 mm (2-5 inches) common along parts of the Texas Gulf Coast. Click Here for a satellite image of Tropical Storm Grace near the Texas coast on August 31, 2003
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Extratropical Cyclones
A powerful storm system in the South Atlantic Ocean swept a cold front into South Africa during August 18-20. Heavy rains, mountain snows and strong winds affected southwestern Cape Province with winds of 90 km/hr with gusts to 130 km/hr (55 mph with gusts to 80 mph). This caused considerable wind damage to parts of the greater Cape Town area (South African Weather Service). Click Here for a hemispheric satellite animation on August 18, 2003
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Severe winter weather
Click Here the monthly temperature anomalies across Africa during August 2003
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The cold front that swept across South Africa during August 18-20 ushered in some of the coldest August temperatures on record throughout South Africa. Many monthly minimum temperature records were broken, with some locations reaching -10°C (14°F), according the South African Weather Service.
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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.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Hazards for August 2003, published online September 2003, retrieved on September 18, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/hazards/2003/8.