Global Hazards - December 2007
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 Hazards and Significant Events
Tropical Storm Olga is the 15th named storm in the Atlantic Basin and the 10th named storm to form in the month of December since records began in 1851. Additional information can be found below.
Across the United States, moderate to extreme drought conditions covered much of the western U.S., while exceptional drought persisted in the southeastern region. On January 1, 55% of the western U.S., 74% of the Southeast, and 35% of the contiguous U.S. were in moderate to exceptional drought, according to the Federal U.S. Drought Monitor.
For a complete drought analysis across the United States, please see the U.S. drought page.
Across China, drought conditions improved in much of the southeastern region with the exception of the Yunnan and Hainan provinces where severe drought was present (Beijing Climate Center). According to reports, south China is experiencing its worst drought since 1951, affecting one million people (BBC News).
A major heat wave affected Australia during the last week of December. According to reports, the city of Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, experienced its hottest Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But it was not till the 26th that Perth experienced its hottest December day when temperatures reached 44.2°C (111.6°F) (BBC News).
In Malaysia, heavy rainfall during December 7-12 prompted floods that affected 20,000 people and claimed 12 lives (Reuters/BBC News).
In Australia, heavy rainfall on December 3 triggered flash floods across Sydney and Melbourne. In less than half an hour, parts of western Sydney received as much as 21 mm (0.8 inches) of rain (BBC News)
In Sri Lanka, heavy downpours that fell since December 16 triggered floods that displaced 175,000 people and damaged nearly 2,300 houses (Reuters/AFP). On December 23-24, more than 150,000 people were affected in the Batticaloa district, the worst hit, when torrential rains prompted a reservoir to burst its banks, flooding many homes (Reuters/BBC News).
On December 17, heavy rainfall triggered floods across southern Thailand, which affected thousands of villagers and caused 8 districts to be declared as disaster zones. The flooding was characterized as the most severe to strike the region in 10 years (BBC News).
Heavy rain, which began on December 25, caused widespread floods that triggered devastating landslides in the island of Java in Indonesia. More than 100 people lost their lives and tens of thousands were affected after a series of landslides engulfed many homes in mud. The worst hit area was the Karanganyar district where more than 60 people were gathered when a landslide hit by surprise. According to reports these landslides were the worst to strike the region in 25 years (BBC News).
During December 1-3, a powerful storm with hurricane force winds struck the Northwest U.S. The storm brought heavy rain and wind gusts over 160 km/hr (100 mph or 87 knots), with the highest reading being 208 km/hr (129 mph or 112 knots) at Bay City, OR. The strong winds brought power lines down, and the heavy rain caused widespread flooding and triggered landslides (BBC News). According to reports, 8 fatalities were attributed to the storm and about 37,000 homes and businesses were left without power in Washington, Oregon, and northern California. President Bush declared a federal disaster in several counties in Washington and Oregon to provide recovery assistance (Associated Press).
During the first week of December, the islands of Hawaii experienced gale force winds and heavy rain, with Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa having blizzard warning, due to a Kona low that hit the islands on the 7th. The storm left about 45,000 people without power and was described as the worst in recent memory (BBC News).
Tropical cyclone Daman developed as a depression in the southern Pacific Ocean on the 4th and intensified into a tropical cyclone on the 5th. On December 7, Daman reached its peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 195 km/hr (120 mph or 105 knots). The severe cyclone spared Fiji's second largest island Vanua Levu, which is densely populated, but pounded the smaller islands. Daman produced heavy rain that caused floods in the low-lying areas and triggered landslides. The tropical cyclone was downgraded to a depression on the 9th (BBC News).
Tropical storm Olga developed as a sub-tropical storm on the 10th, after the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season, over the Virgin islands. Sub-tropical storm Olga moved westward along the northern coast of Puerto Rico with sustained winds near 75 km/hr (47 mph or 40 knots), producing torrential rainfall in the interior of the island. During December 10-12, Olga dumped more than 8 inches (203 mm) of rain on the island. The heavy rain triggered mudslides that killed one person and left thousands without power (BBC/Reuters). During the morning of the 11th, Olga began to lose its sub-tropical characteristics, developing a warm core and transitioning to a tropical storm that same day. The storm reached its peak intensity of 93 km/hr (58 mph or 50 knots) on the evening of the 11th, just before making landfall in the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic. The heavy rain produced by Olga caused widespread flooding, including the overflow of rivers. Rapid accumulation of water in the Tavera Dam forced officials to make a drastic decision of releasing the water from the Dam into the Yaque del Norte River and thus inundating seven towns (Reuters/Associated Press) since they feared the dam would collapse and flood Santiago, Dominican Republic's second-largest city. Olga affected more than 34,000 people, killed 20 people and damaged nearly 7,000 homes. Haiti reported two fatalities (Associated Press). According to reports, tropical storm Olga is the 10th named storm to develop in December since records began in 1851 (BBC News/Associated Press).
For 2006/2007 basin tropical cyclone statistics, please refer to the following:
North Indian Ocean Basin
Western North Pacific Basin
South Pacific Basin
South Indian Ocean Basin
Northeast Pacific Ocean Basin
No reports of significant extratropical cyclones were received during December 2007.
A severe winter storm affected much of the contiguous U.S. during the week of the 10th. The massive storm lashed the Midwestern states, covering Missouri and Oklahoma, the hardest hit, in a layer of thick ice. According to reports, tree branches and power lines were coated with 1-2 inches (2.54 - 5 cm) of ice. The icy conditions left more than 800,000 homes without power and were blamed for about 36 fatalities (AFP/Reuters/BBC News). President Bush declared the state of Oklahoma to be in a state of emergency and Governor Henry stated that this was the worst ice storm in the state's history. The same system moved towards the Northeast, dumping heavy amounts of snow, with Boston receiving up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) of snow during the evening rush hour on December 13. This amount was much more than the city typically sees during the entire month of December (Reuters).
In Spain, cold conditions were experienced on December 18, prompting a huge surge on electricity demand, exceeding the previous record set on 27 January 2005 (BBC News).