Global Hazards - January 2004

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
Snow Cover Across Asia and Europe on January 28, 2004
Heavy Snowfall Across Parts Of Europe
Global Hazards And Significant Events
January 2004
Heavy snow affected parts of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Denmark during January 27-29. Additional information can be found below.

Drought conditions
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. Click Here for the Drought Monitor depiction as of January 27, 2004
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For detailed drought assessment across the United States, see the regional drought pages.

Satellite image on January 23, 2004 of a large dust/sand storm originating over the Sahara Desert
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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 visibilities.
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 drought (IRIN). CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates across Africa during January 2004
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Heavy rainfall and flooding
CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates for South America during January 2004
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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 ( 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 News/NASA).

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.

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Severe Storms

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 ( Photograph of tornado on Oahu on .....
Photo of Tornado on Oahu
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Tropical Cyclones
Infrared satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Heta near Samoa on January 6, 2004
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Tropical Cyclone Heta formed in the South Pacific Ocean north of the Samoa Islands on the 1st and passed 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 (OCHA).
Tropical Cyclone Ken developed 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. Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Ken
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Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Elita near Madagascar on January 28, 2004
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Tropical Cyclone Elita formed 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 rains.
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Extratropical Cyclones
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 conditions. Satellite image of a storm system over southeastern Canada on January 16, 2004
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Severe winter weather
Photograph of snow and ice accumulations near Portland, Oregon on January 6, 2004
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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 -3.3°C (26°F). Surface temperature estimates across Turkey on January 9, 2004 at 0000UTC
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Temperatures observed across the Northeast US and Canada on January 15, 2004 at 1200 UTC (7AM EST)
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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 (CNN). Satellite image depicting snow cover over the eastern U.S. on January 28, 2004
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Winter storm impacts for the Southeast region of the United States can be accessed through the Southeast Regional Climate Center's report.

Snow cover across Asia and Europe on January 28, 2004
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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).

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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 January 2004, published online February 2004, retrieved on January 18, 2018 from