Global Hazards - October 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
Tropical Depression Sixteen brought heavy rain and flooding across parts of Central America. Additional information can be found below.
In the United States, moderate to severe drought were observed across parts of the western and north-central continental U.S. Meanwhile, severe to extreme drought conditions were present in the Hawaiian Islands, southern Texas and the southeastern U.S. Western South Carolina had exceptional drought. As of October 28, 30% of the western U.S., 16% of the South, 8% of the High Plains, 30% of the Southeast, and 22% of the contiguous U.S. were in moderate to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. For a complete drought analysis across the United States, please see the U.S. drought page.
In the town of Taboshar, Tajikistan, drought conditions caused an acute shortage of drinking water, forcing people to leave the town. According to reports, the town's water agency could not meet 15-20 percent of the population's need (IRIN).
Unusually heavy rain fell across Algeria during the first two weeks of October, prompting flash floods that claimed the lives of 65 people (AFP) and destroyed nearly 600 homes in the town of Ghardaia (Associated Press). It was reported by Algeria's Interior Minister that the floods in Algeria were the worst in a century (BBC News/AFP).
Intense rainfall produced by the Atlantic's sixteenth tropical depression resulted in widespread floods and landslides across parts of Central America during the week of October 12. The depression developed from a low pressure system in the Caribbean, east of Costa Rica, and by October 14 it was upgraded to a tropical depression. The depression made landfall on the northern coast of Honduras on the 16th, but quickly dissipated as it moved inland, becoming a slow moving low pressure system. The depression's heavy rain caused dangerous mudslides and rivers to overflow their banks, flooding villages and blocking roads across Central America (AFP). In Honduras, an immense area of crops was destroyed and 62 bridges were demolished, forcing Honduras's president to declare a national state of emergency (BBC News). Meanwhile, Costa Rica's Meteorological Institute reported that the amount of rainfall produced by the depression was equivalent to October's monthly rainfall (BBC News). According to reports, Costa Rica's precipitation levels were as much as 2,100 mm (83 inches) in some areas, the highest in 40 years (OCHA). Storm-related fatalities were reported across Central America — twenty-nine in Honduras (Associated Press), seven in Costa Rica, four in Nicaragua, four in Guatemala (OCHA), and one in El Salvador (AFP).
Storms in Morocco on the 20th resulted in heavy rains and flash floods that claimed the lives of 11 people. The prolonged downpours triggered flash floods that inundated dozens of homes and destroyed clay houses, leaving many homeless (BBC News).
Heavy rain fell across Yemen on October 24-25, lashing the region with flash floods and mudslides. The heavy downpours and floods affected nearly 7,000 residents, left about 100 dead or missing (Reuters), caused the disruption of water and power distribution (AFP), and destroyed or damaged nearly 1,700 homes across the provinces of Hadramaut and Mahara. According to reports, this was the most serious flooding in decades (Reuters).
During the last week of October, floods triggered by heavy rains affected central and northern Vietnam, killing 54 people, inundating more than 100,000 homes, and destroying over 240,000 hectares (590,000 acres) of crops (Associated Press). It was reported that Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, experienced the heaviest rains since 1984 (BBC News).
On October 7, a frontal system progressed over New Zealand's North Island, producing heavy rains and strong winds that caused havoc across the region. Winds of up to 130 km/hr (80 mph or 70 knots) and 160 km/hr (100 mph or 86 knots) were observed in Wellington and surrounding hills, respectively. The severe weather conditions were responsible for cancelling over 20 flights at the Wellington airport, for littering the streets with downed power lines and tree debris and damaging dozens of homes. No fatalities were reported (BBC News).
Severe storms associated with a cold front spawned a tornado in Panama City, Florida on October 8, which brought down power lines and blew out windows. According to reports, another tornado was suspected to have damaged a civic center in southeastern Alabama (Associated Press).
Hurricane Norbert, the most powerful hurricane in the 2008 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season, formed in the East North Pacific Ocean, south of Acapulco, Mexico, as a tropical depression on October 3. As the storm moved towards the west-northwest, it moved into an area with warm waters and low vertical shear, allowing it to strengthen. By October 6, Norbert intensified to hurricane strength, but reached its peak intensity, a dangerous Category 4, on the 8th with maximum sustained winds near 217 km/hr (135 mph or 117 knots). The storm weakened to a Category 1 hurricane on October 9, but rapidly intensified to a Category 2 on the 10th as it approached the Baja Peninsula. Hurricane Norbert made landfall in Mexico's southern Baja California on October 11 with maximum sustained winds near 160 km/hr (100 mph or 86 knots). It was reported that Norbert was the first October hurricane to make landfall on the Baja Peninsula since Hurricane Pauline in 1968 (BBC News). Norbert brought heavy rain and strong winds, causing widespread floods, downing palm trees, and tearing off roofs. According to reports, the islands of Santa Margarita and Magdalena had nearly forty percent of homes totally or partially damaged (AFP). The storm tracked across the Gulf of California and made a second landfall on October 12 on the Mexican mainland Sonora coast with maximum sustained winds near 137 km/hr (85 mph or 74 knots) (Associated Press). The storm lost intensity rapidly as it moved inland, weakening to a tropical depression later that day. Three fatalities were reported (Reuters).
Tropical Storm Marco developed as a tropical depression in the Bay of Campeche, the southern part of Gulf of Mexico, on October 6. Later that day, reconnaissance data indicated that the depression had intensified into a tropical storm. Marco was a small system, with tropical storm force winds extending out to 24 km (15 mi) from its center (CNN). The storm tracked west-northwest, making landfall in Veracruz, Mexico on October 7 with estimated maximum sustained winds of 105 km/hr (65 mph or 57 knots). The storm brought heavy rain to parts of Veracruz, flooding coastal areas and forcing evacuations (Associated Press). Tropical Storm Marco quickly dissipated after landfall.
Hurricane Omar, the first hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands from the west since Hurricane Lenny in 1999, developed as a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea on October 13. As the depression moved towards the northeast it began to intensify, becoming a tropical storm on the 14th. Later that day, Omar rapidly intensified into a hurricane, but reached its peak intensity on the 16th — a dangerous Category 3 hurricane — with maximum sustained winds near 185 km/hr (115 mph or 100 knots). As the storm approached Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands, many people feared the worst. Nevertheless, the storm passed between St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, sparing the islands from the worst part of the storm. Most of the damages across the Caribbean islands were some flooding, minor mudslides, and downed trees. However, St. Croix reported that the storm caused more than 700,000 U.S. dollars in damages to roads and destroyed over 100 utility poles. The storm was also responsible for sinking more than 40 boats at St. Croix and for damaging crops in St. Croix and Antigua. One fatality was attributed to the storm in Puerto Rico (Associated Press). The storm moved into the Atlantic and dissipated by the 18th.
Tropical Storm 22W formed in the Gulf of Tonkin as a tropical depression on October 14, strengthening into a tropical storm later that same day. The storm affected the South China island province of Hainan and northern Vietnam by drenching the area with heavy downpours. Hainan began receiving torrential rain on October 11 and persisted till the 14th. The rains caused flash floods in low-lying areas and flooded more than 150 villages, forcing thousands to flee the area. Three fatalities were reported (BBC News). Tropical Storm 22W moved towards Vietnam, making landfall on the 15th (BBC News) with maximum sustained winds near 65 km/hr (40 mph or 35 knots). In Vietnam, heavy rain fell on October 15-20, triggering flash floods that damaged over 11,000 hectares of crops and destroyed three schools and several kilometers of roads (DPA). According to reports, the average daily accumulations were between 300-450 mm (12-18 inches) of rain. Eleven fatalities were reported with seven others missing.
Tropical Cyclone Rashmi developed as a tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal on October 26. Rashmi strengthened into a tropical cyclone later that day. The storm made landfall on October 27 in the south-central coast of Bangladesh with maximum sustained winds near 80 km/hr (50 mph or 43 knots). Cyclone Rashmi brought heavy rain and strong winds, damaging thousands of homes and acres of crops, and downing electrical and telephone poles. Fifteen people were killed and 10 fishing boats with 50 people aboard were missing (Reuters). The storm dissipated as it moved inland.
For 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
No reports of significant extratropical cyclones were received during October 2008.
A significant winter storm brought heavy snowfall to areas of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho on October 10-12. The snowy conditions brought record snowfall, gusty winds that brought down trees and power lines, and reduced visibility. According to reports, several Wyoming counties reported as much as 83.8 cm (33 inches) of snow. Lander, WY experienced the greatest snow to hit during October when 75 cm (29.7 inches) of snow fell, shattering the previous record set on October 30-November 1 in 1920 when 70.1 cm (27.6 inches) of snow fell. Meanwhile in Montana, the city of Red Lodge recorded its highest snowfall total in a period of 24-hours when 107 cm (42 inches) of snow fell (BBC News). Glasgow, MT set a new record for October 12 when 32.5 cm (12.8 inches) of snow fell, surpassing the previous record of 29.2 cm (11.5 inches) set on 12 October 1924 and becoming the most snow to have fallen in one day in October (Weather Bug). For other snowfall records during October, please visit NCDC's U.S. Records page.
In Tibet, a heavy snowstorm struck the region during the last week of October, blocking roads, triggering avalanches, and causing power outages (BBC News). It was reported that the average snow coverage was 150 cm (59 inches). Nine people were killed in what was described as one of the worst snowstorms in living memory (BBC News).