|Severe to extreme
drought was widespread throughout much of the western United
States. The most concentrated areas of extreme to exceptional
drought classification were across the Northern Rockies and parts
of New Mexico. Severely dry conditions along the immediate West
Coast were alleviated by heavy rain and snow during late December
2003 and into early January 2004.
For detailed drought assessment across the United States, see
the regional drought pages.
|Airborne dust and haze
from a major Saharan sandstorm that originated on the 22nd affected
much of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria and western Iraq with reduced
|Long term drought
continued across areas of Africa, including the Greater Horn and
parts of southern Africa (WFP). In South Africa, at least 4 million
people were in need of immediate assistance due to the ongoing
|In Brazil, heavy rains
swelled two rivers and burst an irrigation dam in the town of
Jaboticabal. At least eight people were killed when their bus was
swept away by floodwaters on January 11 (Disasterrelief.org).
At least 56 people were killed by flooding across the country
during January 2004, leaving over 6,800 people homeless (AFP). The
worst-affected areas of Brazil included the northeastern states of
Pernambuco, Piaui and Bahia by month's end. The northeastern
coastal city of Fortaleza reported 254 mm (10 inches) of rain on
January 29, the highest daily total there since 1910 (BBC
Across western Afghanistan, heavy rainfall on January 17 in the
Herat region produced floods that damaged 500 houses and affected
thousands of families. Flooding along the River Koul affected three
villages in the Ghazara and En Gil districts (IFRC).
In the Australian state of Tasmania, it was the second
wettest January since 1900, according to the
Australian Bureau of Meterology.
For an archive of flood events worldwide, see the
Dartmouth Flood Observatory.
A storm system that affected Germany on the 13th-14th brought a
variety of severe weather. Winds gusted as high as 169 km/hr (105
mph), with flooding reported in parts of Bavaria and
Baden-Wuerttemberg (AFP). A tornado late on the 13th ripped through
the northern town of Drochtersen, tearing off roofs of at least
seven houses (AFP).
|In Hawaii, a frontal
system brought strong winds to the islands on the 14th, knocking
out power to over 12,000 homes and closing at least a dozen public
schools. A wind gust to 135 km/hr (85 mph) was reported along the
west coast of Oahu by the National Weather Service (Associated
Press). Severe thunderstorms affected parts of the islands on the
23rd-25th, with high winds and even
a rare tornado reported on Oahu (no damage was reported). Hawaii
Electric Light Company reported that 33,500 customers lost
electricity during this second round of severe weather
Photo of Tornado on Oahu
in the South Pacific Ocean north of the Samoa Islands on the 1st
just west of Samoa on the 4th. While Heta did not pass directly
over the Samoa Islands, it was the first tropical cyclone to impact
the islands in more than a decade (AFP). Most of Samoa was left
without power in the storm's wake, with significant damage reported
at the Pago Pago International Airport. Heta tracked south and
crossed the island of Niue on the 6th, injuring several people and
causing one fatality (Reuters). Maximum sustained winds were near
240 km/hr (130 knots or 150 mph) as the storm passed through Niue,
with significant damage to crops and infrastructure reported
on the 1st in the Indian Ocean and tracked southwest before
dissipating off the west coast of Western Australia, west of the
North West Cape.
on the 26th in the Mozambique Channel and moved into Madagascar on
the 28th. Maximum sustained winds were near 110 km/hr (60 knots or
70 mph) as the cyclone came ashore, along with torrential
|A powerful storm
system affected the maritime provinces of Canada during January
15-17. Strong winds, snow and cold temperatures combined to create
blizzard conditions throughout parts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick
and Prince Edward Island, closing schools and causing poor driving
|In the Pacific
Northwest of the United States, a parade of strong
weather systems brought strong winds and wintry precipitation
to areas of Washington and Oregon. Snow fell all the way to the
Pacific Ocean, with Seattle and Portland reporting several inches
of snow and ice. Snow accumulations across the higher terrain of
the Cascade Mountains were well over a foot.
Cold weather since Christmas 2003 was blamed for as many as 600
deaths across South Asia (Reuters). Low temperatures during late
December 2003 into January 2004 ranged from 0 to 5°C (32 to
41°F) across northern India and Bangladesh, primarily affecting
the elderly and children, as well as the homeless population (AFP).
Hundreds of homeless in the region die each year because they do
not have warm clothes or blankets (Reuters).
|In Turkey, a period of
cold, snowy weather during January 9-12 claimed 10 lives (AFP).
Heavy snowfall cut off nearly 2,000 villages, while temperatures in
Ankara dipped to -13°C (9°F) on the 9th. Normal minimum
temperatures in Ankara during the month of January are around
|An Arctic air mass
encompassed much of eastern Canada and the U.S. Northeast during
mid-month. Record daily low temperatures were set in U.S. cities
such as Boston and Providence on the 14th, as temperatures plunged
near or below zero (Fahrenheit). Three deaths in the United States
were blamed on the cold weather (Associated Press). In southeastern
Canada, temperatures plunged to -31°C (-24°F) at Quebec
City, and Saguenay in central Quebec dipped to -33°C
(-28°F). Power company Hydro-Quebec recorded a new high for
power use on the 15th: 36,279 megawatts (CNN/AFP). Weekly Temperature
anomalies during January 11-17 were more than 5°C (9°F)
below normal in the Northeast U.S.
|A winter storm spread
a blanket of snow and ice across a large area of the U.S. from the
Plains to the Eastern Seaboard during the 24th-27th. At least 56
deaths were blamed on snow, ice and cold from Kansas to the East
Coast, most from a severe ice storm in parts of the Carolinas
Winter storm impacts for the Southeast region of the United
States can be accessed through the
Southeast Regional Climate Center's report.
|Severe winter weather
affected much of western and northern Europe during January 27-29,
with heavy accumulations of snow reported in parts of the United
Kingdom, France, Germany and Denmark. Nearly 300 flights were
cancelled from London's Heathrow airport on the 29th (AFP). Heavy
snow also affected Belgium and Luxembourg, causing flight
cancellations and other travel disruptions.
In Romania, at least 7 people died as a result of cold and snowy
weather during the last week of January. At least 60 towns and
villages in the northeast part of the country lost electrical
service, and roads became impassable (AFP).
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,