Global Hazards - February 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
Extreme Maximum Temperature Anomalies During The Two Week period Ending February 19, 2004
Heat Wave Affects Australia
Global Hazards And Significant Events
February 2004
Much of eastern Australia experienced a record-breaking heatwave during mid-February. 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 February 2004. Click Here for the Drought Monitor depiction as of February 17, 2004
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For complete drought analysis throughout the United States, please see the U.S. regional drought pages.

Satellite image on February 11, 2004 of a large dust/sand storm originating over the Sahara Desert affecting areas of Chad and Niger
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A dust storm originating from the Sahara Desert affected much of Chad and Niger on February 11 with severely 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). The Lesotho Prime Minister declared a food emergency for the country on the 11th, with projections that as many as 700,000 people would require food aid in the coming months (AFP/WFP). CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates during December 2003-February 2004
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Extreme Maximum Temperatures During The Two Week period Ending February 19, 2004
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A severe heat wave affected much of eastern Australia during February 2004, and was classified as one of the most intense and widespread heat waves of the last century (Australian Bureau of Meteorology). Many city and state temperature records were set during the month, as maximum temperatures soared over 45°C (113°F) in many areas.
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Heavy rainfall and flooding
Rainfall estimates from NASA's TRMM satellite during January 27-February 3, 2004
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Heavy rains that began in December across areas of Brazil continued through January and into early February. Mudslides and floods left tens of thousands of people homeless and resulted in 161 deaths since heavy rains began in late December 2003 (BBC News/Reuters). The worst-affected areas included the northeastern states of Pernambuco, Bahia and Piaui.

Heavy rains produced flooding in the United Kingdom on February 3rd, specifically across areas of Wales. The villages of Llanrwst and Trefriw in the Conwy Valley were among the worst affected areas. Floodwaters cut off the village of Trefriw, stranding residents for nearly two days (BBC News).

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

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Severe Storms

A severe storm affected much of central New Zealand on the 15th as high winds and heavy seas damaged roads and buildings in Auckland and Wellington. Ferry traffic between the North and South islands was also suspended (AFP).

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Tropical Cyclones
Tropical Cyclone Elita first affected Madagascar in late January as it moved into the northern part of the country on the 28th. Elita moved southwest parallel to the coastline before drifting back out over the Mozambique Channel on February 1. The cyclone re-strengthened and made a second landfall on the 3rd near the town of Morondava. Maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were near 120 km/hr (65 knots or 75 mph). Elita crossed the island nation and exited along the east coast. At least 29 people were killed and 44,000 left homeless (NASA/TRMM/AFP). Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Elita
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Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Fritz in northern Australia on February 12, 2004
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Tropical Cyclone Fritz formed on the 9th in the Coral Sea and moved across Australia's Cape York Peninsula in Queensland as a depression. Fritz then moved into the Gulf of Carpentaria and attained maximum sustained winds of 65 km/hr (35 knots or 40 mph) before moving ashore near the Queensland/Northern Territory border on the 12th. The tropical cyclone produced locally heavy rains along its path across areas of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Tropical Cyclone Monty developed in the Indian Ocean on the 27th. The cyclone reached peak intensity over open waters on February 29 about 315 km (195 miles) north-northeast of Learmonth, with maximum sustained winds near 205 km/hr (110 knots or 125 mph). The storm weakened as it made landfall on the first of March near Mardie, Australia producing torrential rainfall and packing maximum sustained winds near 175 km/hr (95 knots or 110 mph). Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Monty
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Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Ivy near Vanuatu on February 24, 2004
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Tropical Cyclone Ivy developed in the South Pacific Ocean on the 22nd and crossed the island chain of Vanuatu around the 24th with maximum sustained winds near 160 km/hr (85 knots or 100 mph). At least one person was killed from the storm and many homes and crops were damaged (AFP).
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Extratropical Cyclones
An intense low-pressure system brought blizzard conditions to the maritime provinces of southeastern Canada during February 19. Across Nova Scotia, more than 65 cm (25 inches) of snow accumulated through parts of the province. Visible satellite image depicting an intense storm off the Canadian Maritimes on February 19, 2004
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Halifax Radar Animation courtesy of Environment Canada, on February 19, 2004
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Radar imagery courtesy of Environment Canada depicted the heavy snow bands, and surface weather reports indicated severely reduced visibilities and wind gusts over 100 km/hr (60 mph) across parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The Nova Scotian minister of emergency measures indicated that the storm "practically shut down the entire province" and resulted in the first ever "Code Black" issuance by goverment officials (Reuters/CBS News). High tides and a significant 1-meter (3.3 foot) storm surge brought coastal flooding to some communities.
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Severe winter weather
Regional radar animation (Courtesy: NCAR) of snow across the U.S. Northern Plains on February 13, 2004
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In the United States, strong winds, heavy snow and cold temperatures combined to produce blizzard conditions through areas of the Dakotas and western Minnesota on February 11.
Winds gusting over 110 km/hr (70 mph) along with heavy snow produced low visibilities and drifts up to 20 feet in northwestern North Dakota. Governor John Hoeven declared a snow emergency, and Amtrak train service was interrupted in the region (CNN). Snow depth estimates across the U.S. Northern Plains on February 12, 2004
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In the United States, piedmont areas of the Carolinas received exceptionally heavy snow on February 26. Locally up to 51 cm (20 inches) of snow accumulated in the Charlotte metropolitan area. It was Charlotte's third largest snowstorm on record, with 33.5 cm (13.2 inches) observed at the airport.

A winter storm brought heavy snowfall to much of the eastern Mediterranean region, from Greece eastward into parts of the Middle East. Southern Greece received heavy accumulation of snow which closed many regional airports, including the Athens International Airport on the 13th (AFP). Farther east, strong winds and high seas caused the sinking of two ships off the coast of Turkey. An avalanche was blamed for three deaths in a small village in the southeastern part of the country (AFP). Heavy snow blanketed areas of the Middle East, including parts of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Three deaths were blamed on the storm in Lebanon and Jordan, where up to 61cm or 2 feet of snow accumulated (USA Today/AFP).

Additional wintry weather affected a large area of western Europe during the last week of February, including parts of France, Germany, Belgium and Spain. Significant transportation impacts were reported, as heavy snowfall caused many traffic accidents and travel delays.

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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 2004, published online March 2004, retrieved on January 17, 2018 from