Global Hazards - February 2003

Please note: Material provided in this report is chosen subjectively and included at the discretion of the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The ability to report on a given event is limited by the amount of information available to NCEI 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
Satellite imagery depicting a storm system that brought heavy to snow to parts of the Middle East
Storm Brings Snow To The Middle East
Global Hazards and Significant Events February 2003
A storm system produced heavy snow across parts of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan during February 24-26. Additional information can be found below.

Drought conditions
Severe to exceptional drought continued throughout much of the western United States, with limited relief confined to the narrow coastal margin of California, Oregon and Washington. Click Here for the drought depiction on febuary 4, 2003
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Click Here for the wetness anomaly map across Australia
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Drought persisted in southeast Australia, particularly New South Wales and Victoria during early February 2003. In New South Wales, 97 percent of the province was in the grip of severe rainfall shortages, with 71 percent of the country as a whole in severe drought (Australian Bureau of Meteorology).
Numerous wildfires continued to burn across parts of New South Wales in early February, aggravated by the unusually dry conditions. Click Here for the drought depiction on febuary 4, 2003
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While much of southeastern Australia received beneficial rains during the last half of February, long-term deficiencies continued as December-February rainfall in Sydney was less than half the normal amount. Click Here for the precipitation timeseries for Sydney during December 2002-February 2003
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Click Here for the surface wetness anomaly map for Africa
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Drought conditions affected much of southern Africa, including Botswana, Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa. In Botswana, only 4 percent of available land for cultivation was ploughed this rainy season due to drought (UN IRIN).

In Somalia, maximum temperatures on the 2nd soared to 38°C (100°F) in Burao, which is over 10°C (18°F) above normal.

In North Africa, a dust storm affected Libya around the 6th, with a large plume of airborne dust transported northward over the Mediterranean Sea. Click Here for a satellite image of airborne dust streaming off the African continent into the Mediterranean on the 6th
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Heavy rainfall and flooding
Click here for a infrared satellite animation of the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Beni affecting northeastern Queensland
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The remnants of Tropical Cyclone Beni moved into northeastern Australia on the 5th and produced locally heavy rainfall. Across coastal areas of Queensland, as much as 30 cm (12 inches) of rain fell which brought flooding to areas around Rockhampton (Associated Press).
In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, heavy rains on the 13th caused flooding that affected 10,000 homes and produced traffic chaos throughout the city. Flooding and landslides throughout the country killed around 60 people since December 2002 (Associated Press). Click Here for the CAMS precipitation estimates across Indonesia during February 2003
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Click here for the GOES precipitation estimates during February 2003
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Heavy rainfall in portions of Mozambique during early February produced flooding that left about 100,000 families homeless, destroyed crops and severely damaged roads and bridges (Associated Press). A period of above normal rainfall that began in late January from the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Delfina continued in February.
In Pakistan, heavy rain and snow produced flooding around the17th that was responsible for more than 60 deaths (BBC News). In Balochistan province, flash flooding washed away parts of roads and highways. Click Here for the surface wetness anomalies
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In neighboring Afghanistan, heavy rain and snow alleviated long-term drought conditions. Winter precipitation in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan was the heaviest in the last 5 years.

Despite above normal precipitation during the month of February, winter precipitation remained subnormal in the capital city of Kabul. Click Here for a precipitation timeseries for Kabul, Afghanistan during December 2002-February 2003
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Click here for a map of rainfall totals in eastern Kentucky during February 13-17, 2003
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Heavy rainfall associated with the same storm system that brought very heavy snowfall to the eastern seaboard of the United States during February 15-17 also caused severe flooding in eastern Kentucky. Numerous rivers rose above flood stage, causing flooding in many communities.

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

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Severe Storms
A tornado that was responsible for over 100 deaths struck remote areas of the central Democratic Republic of Congo on the 2nd, affecting 6 villages in the District of Yumbi, Bandundu province (Associated Press). The tornado injured another 1,700 people, more than 200 critically, as it impacted an area located about 250 km (150 miles) northeast of the capital of Kinshasa (Associated Press). Click Here for a satellite image of severe thunderstorms occurring over the Democratic Republic of the Congo on February 2, 2003
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In western India, severe thunderstorms on the 18th in the town of Dholatar in Gujarat state destroyed 28 houses, killing at least 5 people (CIP report). The storm also disrupted power in region, knocking down nearly 11,000 power poles.

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Tropical Cyclones
Tropical Cyclone Japhet developed off the west coast of Madagascar on the 26th and was located over the Mozambique Channel on the 27th with maximum sustained winds near 110 km/hr (60 knots or 70 mph). Click Here for a satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Japhet located in the Mozambique Channel on the 27th
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Click here a satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Fiona south of Indonesia on February 4, 2003
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Tropical Cyclone Fiona pushed south of Java during the 5th-6th, but locally heavy rains fell on the island. Maximum sustained winds with the cyclone reached as high as 185 km/hr (100 knots or 115 mph) over open waters of the Indian Ocean on the 8th-9th.
Tropical Cyclone Gerry developed off the northeast coast of Madagascar on the 9th and was located just north of the Mascarene Islands on the 13th with maximum sustained winds of 185 km/hr (100 knots or 115 mph). Over 178 mm (7 inches) of rain had fallen on Reunion Island on the 13th as Gerry passed to the northeast of the island. Meanwhile, Tropical Cyclone Hape was located farther to the east over open Indian Ocean waters and dissipated by the 15th. Click Here for a satellite image of Tropical Cyclones Gerry and Hape over the Indian Ocean on February 12, 2003
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Extratropical Cyclones
Click here a for a colorized infrared satellite animation of a storm system affecting the Southwest U.S. on February 12, 2003
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A Pacific storm system moved into the Southwest U.S. during February 11-13th, dumping heavy rains on parts of southern California eastward into adjacent areas of Nevada and Arizona. After a 6-week dry spell, up to 178 mm (7 inches) of rain fell on parts of southern California which broke some daily rainfall records and caused localized flooding. At Las Vegas, Nevada, 19 mm (0.74 in) of rain fell on the 12th, which was the 3rd wettest calendar day since November 21, 1996.

Another weather system tracked into the U.S. Southwest during the 25th-26th, bringing locally heavy rain and mountain snow to parts of the Four Corners region.

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Severe winter weather
A powerful winter storm that affected much of the eastern half of the United States during February 15-17 dumped heavy accumulations of snow across much of the Ohio Valley eastward through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Snowfall accumulations of 30-61 cm (1-2 feet) were common, with snowfall amounts exceeding 89 cm (35 inches) in parts of northeastern West Virginia. Click Here for a post-storm photograph of snow on the ground near Perry Hall, Maryland on February 17, 2003
Post-Storm Photo From Perry Hall, MD
Click here a for the U.S. national radar animation of the President's Day storm of 2003
Radar Animation (Courtesy UCAR)
Numerous all-time snowfall records were broken, including Baltimore and Boston. The storm system brought the heaviest snow accumulations to the East Coast since the Blizzard of 1996. Farther to the south, subfreezing temperatures extending into the Carolinas brought sleet and freezing rain to the parts of the region. The storm closed numerous airports in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and severely hampered transportation.

A winter storm swept across the U.S. southern plains during the 24th-25th, with ice and snow across north Texas and from Oklahoma eastward into Arkansas and southern Missouri. At least 15 people were killed in the region due to adverse winter weather (Reuters).

In Canada, cold temperatures in Newfoundland froze floodwaters which affected the town of Badger. The Exploits, Red Indian and Badger rivers flooded the town as ice jams gave way on the 15th. By the 17th, temperatures as low as -20°C (-4°F) froze much of the standing water, encasing cars, snowmobiles and some homes in ice. Most of Badger's 1,100 residents were evacuated during the 15-16th after a state of emergency was declared (Associated Press). Click Here for the surface temperature estimates on the morning of February 17, 2003
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In eastern Canada, freezing rain that affected New Brunswick on the 2nd caused thousands of power outages, and cost the provincial electrical utility New Brunswick Power between $3-4 million (USD) in damage repair (Canadian Press). A power company spokesman characterized the ice storm as the worst in the utility's history, eclipsing the cost of the 1998 ice storm in New Brunswick.

Click here an animation of snow cover across Europe and Asia during February 2003
Europe/Asia Snow Cover Loop
A winter storm brought heavy snow to parts of Jordan, Israel and Lebanon during the 24-26th and was characterized as the heaviest snowfall since 1950 for parts of the region. Locally over 20 cm (8 inches) of snow accumulated, disrupting transportation and closing schools and business throughout the area. Snowfall across interior Europe was unusually heavy during late February 2003.
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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 Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Hazards for February 2003, published online March 2003, retrieved on January 16, 2018 from