Global Hazards - May 2009


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.


Weekly Focus

Global Hazards and Significant Events

May 2009

Typhoons Kujira and Chan-hom wreaked havoc across the Philippine Islands during the first week of May. Additional information can be found below.

This is a break in the document This is a break in the document Drought conditions

Moderate to severe drought was present in parts of the Hawaiian Islands and the western and midwestern United States, while severe to exceptional drought persisted across much of southern Texas. Rainfall during May led to improvement in drought conditions in Florida. As of June 2, 14% of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate to exceptional drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This includes 23% of the western U.S., 23% of the South, and 0.7% of the Southeast. For a complete drought analysis across the United States, please see the U.S. Drought page.

As of May 28, China had moderate to extreme drought conditions across parts of Heilongjiang and northern Inner Mongolia. Moderate drought was present across parts of Tibet, Sichuan, and Yunnan (Beijing Climate Center).

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Heavy rainfall and flooding

Severe storms that spawned tornadoes across the midwestern United States, brought heavy rain to West Virginia on May 8. The storms caused flash floods as torrential rain fell over southern West Virginia, destroying nearly 300 buildings, downing power lines, and prompting mudslides. The severe conditions forced West Virginia's governor to declare a state of emergency in six counties (Source: Associated Press).

During the week of May 17, heavy rain fell over parts of Haiti, triggering floods that claimed the lives of 11 people, damaging or destroying several hundred homes, and affecting over 600 families. It was reported that about 40 percent of the city of Cayes was inundated by water (Source: AFP/Reuters).

In Tajikistan, heavy rainfall during May triggered mudslides, killing 18 people (Reuters).

Severe floods, caused by heavy rainfall since April 2009, continued through much of May, affecting 426,000 people and leading to 59 fatalities in northeastern Brazil. On May 28, a dam ruptured in Piaui state as the heavy rains swelled the reservoir and produced an increase in pressure that led to its burst. The wall of water destroyed nearly 120 homes, claimed the lives of four people, and left eleven others missing (Source: BBC News/Associated Press).

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Severe Storms

Severe storms affected India's eastern state, West Bengal, during the first week of May. The storms brought strong winds of 80 km/hr (50 mph or 43 knots), destroying homes, damaging crops, and downing electricity and telephone poles. Eleven fatalities were reported (Source: AFP).

Dangerous storms battered the southeastern United States on May 3-6, resulting in a preliminary total of 60 tornado reports from Louisiana to North Carolina. The storms produced heavy rain, vicious winds, and golf ball sized hail, damaging hundreds of homes across the affected region. Thousands of residents were left without electricity as the storms brought down power lines. Two fatalities were reported—one in Mississippi and one in Alabama (Source: Associated Press).

Violent storms ripped through the midwestern United States on May 8, damaging homes, leaving thousands of people without electricity, and killing six people. The storms affected Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri. The storms spawned 47 preliminary tornado reports. One EF3 tornado tore through Madison County, Kansas, claiming the life of one person and damaging several buildings. Meanwhile, in southern Missouri, the storms were responsible for three fatalities (Source: Associated Press/CNN). A second episode of severe weather affected the Midwest on May 13. Kirksville, Missouri, was the hardest hit with nearly 30-40 homes damaged and three fatalities reported (Source: Associated Press).

For more information on the U.S. Tornado events, please visit the U.S. Tornado 2009 Overview page.

In eastern Australia, a severe storm lashed the region with torrential rain and ferocious winds on May 20. The storm produced widespread power outages as gale force winds of 100 km/hr (62 mph or 54 knots) brought down trees and electric poles. Meanwhile, the heavy rainfall caused floods, forcing nearly 5,000 residents in northern New South Wales to evacuate their homes. In the state of Queensland, a state of emergency was declared, while in New South Wales six areas were declared disaster zones. Two fatalities were reported (Source: AFP/Reuters).

A severe windstorm that swept in from Canada brought cold temperatures, hail, and strong winds across northern Vermont on May 31. Wind gusts as high as 97 km/hr (60 mph or 52 knots) downed trees and power lines, leaving nearly 9,000 residents without electricity. No fatalities were reported (Source: Associated Press).

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Tropical Cyclones

Typhoon Kujira formed in the western Pacific Ocean, over the eastern Philippine Islands, as a tropical depression on May 2, strengthening to a tropical storm that same day. As it organized over the eastern Philippines, the storm dumped heavy rain, producing floods and triggering landslides that left 33 people dead and affected over 246,000 people (Source: AFP/Reuters/IRIN). As Kujira tracked towards the northeast, moving away from the Philippines, it strengthened into a typhoon on May 4. In just 24-hours, Kujira intensified from a category 2 typhoon to a dangerous category 4 typhoon. Kujira reached its maximum sustained winds near 213 km/hr (132 mph or 115 knots) on May 4. By May 6, strong vertical wind shear contributed to the weakening of the storm, and by May 7, Kujira became an extratropical system.

Typhoon Chan-hom developed in the South China Sea, southeast of Nha Trang, Vietnam, on May 3 as a tropical storm. Chan-hom strengthened to a category one typhoon on May 6, but reached its maximum sustained winds near 157 km/hr (98 mph or 85 knots) on May 7, prior to making landfall in northern Luzon later that same day. This was the second tropical cyclone to lash the Philippine Islands in less than one week, worsening conditions in regions that were already battered. Chan-hom brought heavy rains, caused mudslides, destroyed homes, and downed power lines. The storm was responsible for claiming the lives of 43 people, displacing over 400,000 residents, and damaging more than 23,000 homes. It was reported that Chan-hom caused $16 million in damages (Source: IRIN). The storm weakened into a tropical storm after passing over Luzon and by May 10 it dissipated.

Tropical Cyclone Aila developed as a tropical depression on May 23 in the North Indian Ocean, south of West Bengal, India. Aila reached its maximum sustained winds near 120 km/hr (75 mph or 65 knots) on May 25, becoming a severe cyclonic storm (equivalent to an Atlantic category one hurricane) prior to landfall near the India-Bangladesh border later that same day. The storm brought heavy rain and strong winds to parts of eastern India and Bangladesh, claiming the lives of over 260 people and leaving half a million of people homeless. As the storm moved inland towards Bangladesh it weakened, however torrential rain continued to wreak havoc in the region. The storm caused rivers to burst their banks, prompting floods and landslides that damaged crops, roads, and houses. The storm not only affected residents, but also affected the Bengal tigers located in the Sundarbans. The forest officials feared that more than a dozen of the endangered tigers perished during the storm, along with 20 crocodiles and two spotted deer (Sources: Associated Press/BBC News/Reuters/The Times of India). The storm dissipated by May 26.

For basin tropical cyclone statistics, please visit the Tropical Cyclone Summaries by Basin page.

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Extratropical Cyclones

No significant extratropical cyclones reports were received during May 2009.

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Severe winter weather

No significant severe winter weather reports were received during May 2009.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Hazards for May 2009, published online June 2009, retrieved on November 27, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/hazards/2009/5.