Global Hazards - October 2010


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.


Updated 5 November 2010


June 1st–September 30thBangladesh experiences its driest monsoon season since 1994 read more October 1st–6thMonsoonal rains wreak havoc in Indonesia, central Vietnam, and Hainan, China read more October 6thSix tornadoes touch down in northern Arizona read more September 30th–October 2ndRemnants of Tropical Storm Nicole bring strong winds and heavy rain to the northeastern United States read more October 18thSuper Typhoon Megi batters the northern Philippines read more mid-OctoberAt least 43 people died due to flooding in the West African country of Benin read more October 24thThe Rio Negro in Brazil reaches its lowest level since record keeping began in 1902 read more October 26th–27thMassive extratropical storm impacts much of the U.S. read more October 30thCategory 1 Hurricane Tomas kills at least 14 in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia read more



Drought conditions

Bangladesh experienced its driest monsoon season since 1994. The season, which lasts from June through September, brings the country more than 75 percent of its annual rainfall. While Pakistan and much of India saw above-normal seasonal rainfall, Bangladesh received 54.9 inches (1,395 mm) of rain, about 19 percent less than the 30-year long term average of 67.7 inches (1,720 mm). During a typical monsoon season, about 25 percent of Bangladesh's land mass is submerged; during the 2010 season, an estimated 16.5 percent was flooded. The flooding is beneficial to the soil and helps farmers grow crops more easily.

In October 2010, Brazil's north and west Amazonia was in the midst of one of its worst droughts in the past 40 years. In the jungle city of Manaus, the Rio Negro (Black River)—one of the most important tributaries of the Rio Amazonia (Amazon River)—fell to its lowest level of 44.7 feet (13.6 meters) since record keeping began in 1902. Maunas is where the Black River is at its deepest and where it merges with the Amazon River. Local authorities reported that nearly half of Amazonia's 62 municipalities declared a state of emergency. More than 60,000 families were affected by the drought conditions.

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Heavy rainfall and flooding

A monsoonal tropical depression brought heavy rains during the first week of October to parts of Southeast Asia, notably, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the southern Chinese island of Hainan. In central Vietnam, at least 64 people were killed by floods and landslides and another 19 were missing as 51 inches (1,300 mm) of rain reportedly fell in parts of the region. Some 34,000 residents were forced to flee their homes in the hardest hit provinces of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh, according to a Vietnamese disaster official. Heavy rains over Hainan, China led to the worst flooding in that region in nearly half a century as at least seven inches (178 mm) fell in 16 cities over the course of the week. Some areas received as much as 12.8 inches (325 mm) of rainfall. One person was killed and more than 450,000 people were evacuated from their homes as 90 percent of the island was reportedly inundated. Farther south in eastern Indonesia's West Papua province, at least 104 people were killed and many more were missing after a river burst its banks, triggering floods and landslides. Tropical storms are common in Southeast Asia this time of year.

Heavy rainfall continued to affect Vietnam and China's Hainan province in mid-October. Torrential rains poured over north central Vietnam on October 14th–18th. According to Reliefweb, up to 38.1 inches (968 mm) of rain fell in Nghe An, up to 36.9 inches (938 mm) in Ha Tinh, and up to 31.0 inches (787 mm) in Quang Binh. At least 32 people were killed and more than 150,000 homes were flooded. Between October 14th and 16th, eight inches (200 mm) of rain fell over Hainan, inundating an estimated 200 villages and leading to the evacuation of more than 100,000 residents.

On the heels of one of its driest monsoon seasons in years, torrential rainfall in Bangladesh on October 7th–9th caused flooding that killed 17 people and displaced almost 500,000 residents. The low-lying southern coastal districts were hardest hit as thousands of homes were inundated due to waters from a tidal surge. Up to 12 inches (300 mm) of rain reportedly fell during the storm. The same storm system killed at least 10 people in neighboring Myanmar. Thousands of people were left homeless in Mandalay, the country's second largest city, as water levels remained two meters deep in some locations. According to ReliefWeb, this was the city's heaviest rainfall in the past six decades.

In Thailand, cyclones and heavier-than-normal monsoon rains from mid to late October led to the worst flooding in decades, according to government officials. At least 59 people were killed, thousands of homes were flooded, and more than three million people were affected across 36 of the country's 76 provinces.

The United Nations (UN) News Centre reported on October 14th that the West African country of Benin was the hardest hit among all Central and West Africa countries affected by heavy rains and flooding. At least 43 people died and more than 90,000 lost their homes. Additionally, 800 cases of cholera were reported across the country, with seven deaths attributed to the water-borne disease outbreak. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, flood waters covered two-thirds of the country.

Heavy rainfall during the third week in October led to flooding that killed at least 12 people and left three missing in and around Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince. According to Voice of America, the floods were particularly damaging to tent cities that were set up following a devastating earthquake in January 2010.

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Severe Storms

Strong storms that brought record rainfall, cool temperatures, heavy snow, and strong tornadoes wreaked havoc across the western United States on October 5th–6th. On the 5th, Reno, Nevada received 1.09 inches (28 mm) of rain (almost 15 percent of its annual average rainfall), shattering the old record of 0.23 inches (6 mm), previously set on that date in 1994. South of Lake Tahoe, snow caused California Highway 89 to close. In Phoenix, Arizona, a microburst associated with a storm that brought 70 mph (113 km/hr) winds, rain, and baseball-sized hail, leading to one death in a weather-related traffic accident and damaging 38 homes. Water up to two feet deep was reported on parts of Interstate 17. On October 6th, eight tornadoes tore through northern Arizona in and around the town of Bellemont, damaging more than 100 homes, throwing rail cars off their tracks, and pushing large transportation trucks off the highway. Arizona experiences four tornadoes on average each year. For more information about the tornado outbreak, please see the October NCDC Tornado report.

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Tropical Cyclones

A tropical low pressure system that became Hurricane Otto dumped copious amounts of precipitation over large parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on October 4th–8th, breaking several rainfall records. On October 5th, the island of Saint Thomas received 6.61 inches (168 mm) of rain, shattering its previous 24-hour record for that date of 0.67 inches (17 mm) set in 1981. This also represents the island's fifth wettest day since record keeping began.

Super Typhoon Megi struck the northern Philippine island of Luzon on October 18th with maximum sustained winds of 167 mph (268 km/hr), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm made landfall at Palanan Bay in Isabela province, killing at least 36 people, before weakening to Category 2 strength as it made its way across the island and headed into the South China Sea. The storm restrengthened to Category 4 status over water but weakened to a severe tropical storm before making a second landfall in China's Fujian province on October 23rd. Earlier, rainbands from Megi brought torrential downpours to Taiwan on the 22nd. Seven people died when a temple collapsed as the rains triggered floods and landslides that left dozens of others missing. The storm effects also reached Japan, where torrential downpours were blamed for two deaths on the subtropical island chain of Amami. Fujian province sustained an estimated $411.7 million U.S. dollars in economic losses. Megi was the first super typhoon in the Western Pacific basin in 2010 and the most powerful typhoon to hit the Phillipines since 2006 as well as the most powerful hurricane to date for 2010 in the world. Prior to landfall, on October 16th, Megi's peak sustained winds reached 180 mph (290 km/hr)—Category 5 strength, the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale—with gusts estimated up to 220 mph (354 km/hr). For all hurricane basins, Megi was also among the most intense tropical cyclones in recorded history, with a low pressure of 885 millibars. The strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded was Typhoon Tip in 1979—also in the Western North Pacific—which produced a minimum pressure of 870 millibars.

Giri formed into a tropical cyclone over the Bay of Bengal in the North Indian Ocean on October 21st and rapidly intensified into a Category 5 cyclone in a little over 24 hours. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/hr). Giri struck Myanmar's western state of Rakhine on October 22nd, displacing more than 80,000 residents. The country's state television reported that there were at least 84 deaths. Additionally, four thousand structures, including homes, monasteries, and government buildings were destroyed in Rakhine.

Hurricane Tomas struck the Caribbean islands of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines on October 30th. The storm made landfall over Saint Lucia with Category 1 strength winds of 90 mph (150 km/hr), killing at least 14 people and wiping out the island country's banana crops, its main export and one of the top economic generators. Landslides swept away roads and bridges, leaving the hardest hit towns of Soufriere and Vieux Fort isolated. The prime minister said that damages could reach 100 million U.S. dollars. Tomas severly damaged or destroyed at least 1,200 homes in nearby Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

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Extratropical Cyclones

Remnants from Tropical Storm Nicole brought heavy rains and major flooding to a large swath of Jamaica and the southeastern U.S. coast at the end of September before moving up along the northeast U.S. seaboard on September 30th–October 2nd. The storm caused two traffic-related fatalities—one in Pennsylvania and one in New York. About 30,000 residents lost power in Connecticut and Massachussetts. Along with wind gusts up to 45 mph (72 km/hr), numerous rainfall records were set. Allentown, Pennsylvania broke back-to-back daily records with 5.73 inches (146 mm) on September 30th (previous record was 3.72 inches, or 94 mm, set in 1934) and 2.35 inches (60 mm) on October 1st (previous record was 1.66 inches, or 42 mm, set in 1924), for a two-day total of 8.08 inches (205 mm).

A massive extratropical storm impacted a large portion of the U.S. on October 26th–27th. The storm was centered over the northern Midwest but, according to the National Weather Service, affected areas streching from Hudson Bay to the Gulf Coast and from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic seaboard. Big Fork, Minnesota reached 955.2 millibars—equivalent to the typical pressure of a Category 3 hurricane but with lesser winds—on the 26th; this set the record for the lowest pressure recorded in the state of Minnesota as well as becoming one of the most intense non-tropical storms on record in the United States. Heavy snow and strong winds pounded North and South Dakota and thunderstorms rolled across the Southeast. Over the two-day period, there were 75 preliminary tornado reports across several states. The official record for an October tornado outbreak is 62, set in 2007. There were also 339 preliminary reports of winds exceeding 75 mph (120 km/hr) on the 26th, primarily in the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. One person was killed in Indiana due to the high winds.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Hazards for October 2010, published online November 2010, retrieved on November 23, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/hazards/2010/10.