Global Hazards - December 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 in Corpus Christi, Texas on Christmas Day, 2004
Snow Blankets Corpus Christi on December 25
Global Hazards And Significant Events
December 2004
A major winter storm brought a rare White Christmas to Deep South Texas. Additional information can be found below.

Drought conditions
Wet weather in areas of the western United States during October through December ameliorated drought conditions in parts of the region, with areas of the Southwest receiving some of the most beneficial precipitation. Extreme to exceptional drought persisted farther north throughout portions of the northern and central Rockies. the Drought Monitor depiction as of December 14, 2004
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For comprehensive drought analysis, please see the current U.S. drought report.

CAMS precipitation anomaly estimates for December
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Long-term drought continued across areas of the Greater Horn of Africa. Lake Victoria water levels were much below normal (a ten-year low), leading to problems downstream in the form of irrigation concerns and a lack of drinking water.
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Heavy rainfall and flooding
In Sri Lanka, heavy monsoon rains produced flooding across northern and eastern parts of the country during early to mid-December. At least 6 people were killed by flooding, while 750,000 were rendered homeless (AFP/Reuters). The northeast monsoon season runs from December through January. Rainfall accumulation as estimated by the TRMM satellite during December 10-16, 2004
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Flood map from the Dartmouth Flood Observatory
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In Malaysia, heavy rainfall over the eastern part of the country caused flooding that forced the evacuation of more than 6,000 people. Floodwaters in the city of Kelantan closed stores and offices on the 12th (Associated Press).

In Iran, heavy rainfall in the southern province of Bushehr produced flooding that was blamed for the deaths of 17 people in traffic accidents (AFP).

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

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Severe Storms

No reports of severe storms were received during December 2004.

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Tropical Cyclones
Typhoon Nanmadol developed on November 28 in the western Pacific Ocean and reached typhoon intensity the next day. Nanmadol tracked over Luzon Island in the northern Philippines on December 2 with maximum sustained winds near 220 km/hr (120 knots or 140 mph), causing significant damage. Heavy rains, exacerbated by the cumulative rainfall from three prior tropical cyclones (including Typhoon Muifa), caused extensive flooding. Fatalities from the four tropical systems were blamed for almost 1,800 deaths since November 2004 (AFP/OCHA). Satellite image Typhoon Nanmadol near the Philippines on December 2, 2004
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Extratropical Cyclones
Satellite imagery of a storm system along the west coast of the United States on December 28, 2004
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A major storm system affected parts of the western United States during December 27-29, bringing a variety of weather conditions to the region. Heavy rainfall broke daily precipitation records at some locations in California, with Los Angeles (downtown) breaking a daily rainfall record for the month of December (141 mm/5.55 inches fell on the 28th). This was the third wettest calendar day in Los Angeles since records began in 1877. Very heavy snow fell across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with some areas receiving several feet of accumulation. Winds with this weather system gusted over 105 km/hr (65 mph) at some coastal and mountain locations in California.
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Severe winter weather
Snow depth as of December 16, 2004 throughout the Great Lakes region of the U.S.
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In the United States, the first widespread, significant lake-effect snowfall event of the season occurred on December 14. Locally 10-25 (4-10 inches) cm of snow fell downwind of the Great Lakes.
Heavy accumulations of snow and ice blanketed areas of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, breaking daily snowfall records in some locations. Accumulations exceeded 51cm (20 inches) in parts of Kentucky and Indiana. Snow in Paducah, Kentucky on December 22, 2004
Snow Buries Paducah, KY On December 22

The same storm system dumped heavy accumulations of snow over much of Ontario in Canada on the 23rd, causing hundreds of flight delays at the Toronto Pearson International Airport on one of the busiest travel days of the year (Reuters).

Snow observed via satellite on December 25, 2004 over Deep South Texas
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Snow fell on Christmas Day in Deep South Texas. In Corpus Christi, snow totaled 11.2 cm (4.4 inches), and it was only the second White Christmas ever in Corpus Christi. Farther north in Victoria, 31.8 cm (12.5 inches) of snow fell, making it the first White Christmas on record for Victoria.
Snow fell across the coastal plain of North Carolina and into southeast Virginia on the 26th. Snowfall accumulations of 10-20 cm (4-8 inches) were reported in areas of North Carolina, with locally 30 cm (12 inches) in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Satellite image depicting snow cover over eastern North Carolina and Virginia on December 29, 2004
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CAMS temperature anomalies for December 2004 across North America
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Cold, Arctic air masses were prevalant across northern and central Canada during December, as monthly temperatures averaged 1-4°C (1.8-7.2°F) cooler than the long-term mean.

In the United Arab Emirates, the first snowfall in the historical record fell across the al-Jiys mountain range on the 30th. Hundreds of automobile accidents were reported to police as a result of the unprecedented wintry driving conditions (AFP).

A large of area of Siberia experienced much below average temperatures during December. Temperature anomalies during the month ranged from 3-5°C (5.4-9°F) below average. CAMS temperature anomaly estimates across Asia during December 2004
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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 December 2004, published online January 2005, retrieved on January 21, 2018 from