Global Hazards - March 2008
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 Hazards and Significant Events
Much of South Australia experienced a record-breaking heat wave during the first two weeks of March. Additional information can be found below.
Across the United States, moderate to severe drought conditions continued in the Southeast and in much of the central and western U.S. Parts of western North Dakota, northwestern Nebraska, and southwestern Texas experienced extreme drought. On April 1, 36% of the western U.S., 59% of the Southeast, and 28% of the contiguous U.S. were in moderate to exceptional drought, according to the Federal U.S. Drought Monitor.
For a complete drought analysis across the United States, please see the U.S. drought page.
Moderate to severe drought conditions were present across parts of northeastern China. Moderate drought was present across parts of Tibet (Beijing Climate Center).
In New Zealand, torrential rain on March 1-2 did not end the severe drought in the Waikato region. According to reports, the region is experiencing its driest conditions in over a century (BBC News).
In South Australia, a heat wave during March 1-17 brought scorching temperatures across the state. According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), on March 17 Ceduna and South Australia's capital, Adelaide, suffered their 12th and 15th consecutive days of maximum temperatures above 35°C (95°F), respectively, resulting in the longest running heat wave on record. The previous record in Adelaide was 8 consecutive days, which was first set in 1934 (BBC News) and subsequently tied on numerous occasions, most recently in February 2004. The second longest number of consecutive days for all Australian state capital cities with temperatures greater than 35°C (95°F) was 10 days, set in February 1988 in the city of Perth. The previous record for Ceduna was set during January-February 1975 with 11 consecutive days (BoM). Also, Adelaide set a new high minimum temperature during the night of the 14th when South Australia's capital recorded a temperature of 30.2°C (86.4°F), breaking the previous record of 29.7°C (85.5°F) set in March 1985. Other broken records were set in Mildura, with 14 days over 35°C (95°F), and Kyancutta, with 13 days over 40°C (104°F) (BoM). According to reports, the transport officials ordered the city's trains to slow their speeds due to fear that the extreme heat would buckle the track (BBC News). A complete summary is available courtesy of the Australian BoM.
Drought and strong winds exacerbated wildfire conditions across Texas. Multiple fires across the state in March have threatened homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate the area (BBC News). For more information on March's wildfires, please visit the March 2008 Wildfire page.
Heavy rain caused havoc across southern Africa during the first week of March. Floods prompted more than 30,000 residents to evacuate their homes in southern Angola and killed several thousand cattle. The country of Namibia was also affected by the torrential rains, forcing the country to declare a national emergency on the 4th. About 42 people were killed and thousands of people were displaced in Namibia (BBC News).
In Sri Lanka, flash floods triggered by torrential rains during March 12-25 affected more than 50,000 people. According to reports, about 40 houses were destroyed and 155 were damaged (OCHA).
In the United States, heavy rainfall during March 17-19 caused widespread flooding across the central U.S. According to the National Weather Service, the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport recorded a daily maximum rainfall of 60 mm (2.35 inches) of rain on the 18th, surpassing the previous record set in 1984 by 21 mm (0.83 inches). The torrential rain flooded hundreds of homes across Texas and Missouri and cancelled more than half of the 950 scheduled flights at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (Associated Press).
Also, the heavy rainfall that fell during March 17-19 prompted the overflow of rivers across the south-central states, causing historical floods. Arkansas was impacted the greatest with several of its rivers reaching their highest level in nearly 90 years (Associated Press). The floods washed out roads, damaged homes, and were associated with 17 fatalities across the affected states (Associated Press). The governor of Arkansas declared disaster areas in 39 Arkansas counties and President Bush issued a disaster declaration for 35 counties (Associated Press). In March, 15 new all-time record precipitation records were established across several of the affected states.
Across Kenya, heavy rainfall during March 28-31 prompted flash floods that displaced thousands of people and caused seven fatalities (BBC News).
Severe storms affected parts of the contiguous U.S. during the first week of March, with over 60 reported tornadoes. In Oklahoma, severe storms produced two tornadoes, strong winds, and softball size hail on the 2nd. The storm caused power outages with scattered damages. No fatalities were reported (Associated Press). On March 4, severe weather struck North and South Carolina and Virginia, causing blackouts and wind damage across the states (Associated Press). Another episode of severe storms occurred on March 7, affecting Florida and Georgia. The storms spawned tornadoes that destroyed homes, tore down trees and power lines. According to reports, one person died and sixteen others suffered injuries (Reuters).
An episode of severe storms swept across the southeastern U.S. on the 15th, producing 51 reported tornadoes along with damaging winds and hail. In Atlanta, Georgia, a category EF-2 tornado formed over downtown Atlanta, wreaking havoc across the city. According to reports, the storm damaged a number of buildings, killed two people, injured many others, and left about 30,000 homes without power. The widespread damage caused by the tornado forced Georgia's governor to declare a state of emergency (AFP/BBC News). Damages are estimated to be near $150 million (Reuters).
Strong winds caused damage across Monterrey, Mexico on March 18. According to reports, the wind gusts were near 97 km/hr (60 mph or 52 knots). These powerful winds knocked power lines to the ground, leaving part of the city without power. Two fatalities were reported, due to the winds: one person died when a wall fell on him while the second person died in a traffic accident. A total of six other people were injured when a bus struck a fallen billboard (Associated Press).
Tropical cyclone Jokwe developed as a tropical depression northeast of the island of Madagascar on the 5th. Jokwe attained tropical cyclone strength on the 6th with maximum sustained winds near 139 km/hr (86 mph or 75 knots). As the cyclone crossed the Mozambique Channel, the storm intensified to an intense tropical cyclone (equivalent to a category 3 hurricane) with maximum sustained winds near 194 km/hr (121 mph or 105 knots). The storm destroyed 44 houses as it swept through the northern tip of the island of Madagascar. Jokwe made landfall in Mozambique on the 9th as an intense tropical cyclone. The cyclone displaced more than 40,000 people, destroyed over 8,000 homes, and was responsible for 20 fatalities in Mozambique (IFRC).
For 2007/2008 basin tropical cyclone statistics, please refer to the following:
North Indian Ocean Basin
Western North Pacific Basin
South Pacific Basin
South Indian Ocean Basin
Northeast Pacific Ocean Basin
A powerful storm system brought strong winds across Europe on the 1st. The storm brought hurricane-strength winds that were over 160 km/hr (100 mph or 86 knots) across Germany, Austria, and Czech Republic. The strong winds left hundreds of residents across Poland without power and were responsible for a total of 10 fatalities across these countries (Associated Press).
A winter storm swept through the lower Mississippi Valley to New England on March 7-9, leaving behind a trail of heavy snowfall. In Columbus, Ohio, the storm left over 51 cm (20 inches) of snow, setting a new record of total snowfall by a single storm. The previous record was set in February 1910 when 39 cm (15 inches) of snow fell. The heavy snowfall prompted the closure of highways and stranded many travelers. One fatality was associated with the dangerous conditions (BBC News/Associated Press).
A winter storm dumped from 13-46 cm (5-18 inches) of snow across parts of Wisconsin on March 21. This resulted in a new all-time seasonal snowfall record for Wisconsin's capital, Madison, with a total of 254.2 cm (100.1 inches) of snow as of March 24. The previous record was set during the winter season of 1978-1979 when a total of 193.3 cm (76.1 inches) of snow fell. Also, Milwaukee had its second snowiest winter on record with a total of 246.6 cm (97.1 inches) as of March 24. Milwaukee's snowiest snowfall season occurred during the winter of 1885-1886, which had a total of 278.9 cm (109.8 inches) of snowfall.
A winter storm affected parts of Maine during March 20-21. Snow accumulations of 18-46 cm (7-18 inches) were observed across the state, while wind gusts exceeding 56 km/hr (35 mph) also accompanied the snow, creating blizzard conditions. The snow that fell across Caribou, Maine, brought the seasonal total snowfall, as of the 21st, to 468.6 cm (184.5 inches). This amount surpasses the previous seasonal total snowfall record of 460 cm (181.1 inches), set in 1954-1955, by 8.6 cm (3.4 inches). On March 23, minimum temperatures in Caribou dropped to -21.1°C (-6°F), surpassing the previous daily record of -20.6°C (-5°F) set in 1989. March 24-25 also brought new daily minimum temperature records when temperatures plummeted to -25.6°C (-14°F). The previous records were set on March 24-25, 1939.
In Concord, New Hampshire, snow that fell on the 28th brought the capital's 2007-2008 seasonal total snowfall to 292.6 cm (115.2 inches), the second snowiest season. Concord's all-time record was set during the winter of 1873-1874 when a total of 309.9 cm (122 inches) of snow fell (Associated Press).