2013 Won't Lack For Major Weather Anniversaries
January 1, 2013
By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Andrew Rosenthal
Although 2012 had numerous historic weather events, 2013 has more than its lion share of major anniversaries to commemorate. Years ending in "3" and "8" have seen plenty of tornado outbreaks, major hurricanes, and blizzards. Here`s a look at some of the events that will commemorate a major anniversary in 2013:
Perhaps one of the worst blizzards of recent years, a nor`easter crushed the eastern half of the U.S. with feet of snow from March 12-14, 1993. Snow fell as far south as the Florida Panhandle, with a widespread 15 to 25 inch total from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. Twenty-six states were impacted in some way by this storm, which brought the southern U.S. to a standstill thanks to the heavy snow. In all, 310 people were killed in the storm.
From February 6 to 7, 1978, a massive blizzard slammed the Northeast, bringing 27 inches of snow to Boston and Providence, R.I. Similar to Hurricane Sandy, the storm formed from the merger of a storm off the Carolina coast and an approaching cold front. Like Sandy, it also hit on the new moon, increasing the storm surge. At its peak, the blizzard produced 4-inch-per-hour snow rates, and wind gusts as high as 111 mph.
One of the worst blizzards in recorded U.S. history occurred 125 years ago this year in the New York metro area. From March 12-14, nearly 50 inches of snow fell across western New England and into New York and northern New Jersey. Snow drifts were estimated to be as high as 40 feet, destroying overhead wires and cutting the major Northeast cities off by telephone and telegraph from the rest of the country. As a result of this storm, Boston soon built its subway underground, and New York buried its electric lines.
A major tornado outbreak slammed the Mid-South and Ohio Valley on February 5, 2008. The strongest tornados, EF-4, hit western Tennessee. Damage was reported to the Memphis airport, and it was just the start of a string of storms that extended eastward to the Nashville area. Another twister hit Union University in Jackson, Tenn., destroying 31 buildings. In all, 87 tornadoes were confirmed from this outbreak, with 57 fatalities.
- May 2003 tornado outbreak sequence
A period of 9 days from May 3 to 11 produced 401 twisters across the eastern and central U.S. The result of a persistent low-pressure system in the Dakotas, which pumped hot air northward into the Plains to clash with cooler air, the storms seemed to be never-ending. On the high end of the scale, six F-4 tornadoes were reported, including one that crossed southwestern Missouri, and another that severely damaged Moore, Okla. The sequence of storms remains the single-largest total of tornadoes in a week-long period.
- 1883 Rochester, Minn. Tornado
One of a series of tornadoes to strike the Upper Midwest, an F-5 tornado struck Rochester, Minn., on August 21, 1883. Hot and humid air made conditions ripe for a major tornado, and the results were not disappointing. Thirty-seven people were killed that day, with more than 200 injuries. One third of the town was destroyed, and with Rochester lacking a hospital to treat the wounded, Drs. W.W., Charles and William Mayo set up an infirmary in the city`s dance hall. Following this storm, the infirmary would grow into one of the best known hospitals in the U.S., the Mayo Clinic.
- Maryland`s First F4 Tornado
A severe weather outbreak across the Mid-Atlantic on June 2, 1998 produced Maryland`s first F-4 tornado in the small town of Frostburg. Winds briefly peaked at 207 to 220 mph in the northern portion of the western Maryland town. It destroyed 30 homes and businesses and cut a path 48 miles long from southwestern Pennsylvania into western Maryland. Debris from the tornado was found up to 100 miles away.
The "Great New England Hurricane" struck Long Island as a Category 3 storm on September 22, 1938. Moving into the region at a speed to 40 to 50 mph, the hurricane caused extreme damage across New England and eastern New York. Storm surges of 14 to 18 feet, wind gusts as high as 160 mph, and heavy rain wreaked havoc on the region. With forecasting still in its infancy, there was little indication that a storm of this magnitude was heading northward. Thus, many residents were caught off guard, as the storm slammed onshore. As many as 800 people are believed to have died in the hurricane, with damage that stretched from western Massachusetts to the Atlantic shore.
- 1933 Atlantic hurricane season
One of the most prolific seasons on record, the 1933 season saw 20 tropical storms and hurricanes, a record that would last until 2005. The strongest was a Category 5 storm that struck central Mexico in September, killing 184 people. Eleven of the season`s 20 storms attained hurricane status and 6 of those were major hurricanes. Given that there was no satellite monitoring of storm activity - commonplace now - it is likely that significantly more than 20 storms formed that year.
1983 brought few major storms, but the one that it did was rather notable. On August 20, Hurricane Alicia moved from the Gulf of Mexico into southeastern Texas. Packing winds of 115 mph, Alicia broke a 3-year period of no hurricane landfalls in the U.S. As it moved onto Galveston Island, it brought 7 to 10 inches of rain to southeastern Texas. Thousands of glass panes were shattered by Alicia`s winds as it tore through Houston. In all, 21 people were killed, with damage estimated at more than $2 billion (1983 dollars)
The most costly and devastating flood to hit the United States occurred during the summer of 1993. During this summer, the Mississippi and Missouri rivers both flooded, sending the water well over its banks. The result of a long-term rainy period in the central U.S. followed by a snowy winter, conditions were in place for a massive runoff. Thousands of levees from Minnesota to Missouri and Illinois were destroyed by the flooding, which pushed the rivers to their highest levels. Although St. Louis kept the water from overtopping its floodwall, numerous other cities were not so lucky. Lasting almost 200 days in some locations, damage was estimated at $15 billion.
The 1498 Nankaido earthquake occurred off the coast of Nankai, Japan, on September 20, 1498. The magnitude has been estimated at 8.6, and it triggered a massive tsunami. An estimated 31,000 people were killed, with a sea-floor uplift from the earthquake at 12 to 15 feet.
- Death Valley`s hottest day
On July 10, 1913, temperatures soared to 134 degrees in Death Valley, Calif. At the time, it was the hottest day ever recorded on Earth, and although a temperature was reported in Libya in 1922 at 136 degrees, this was recently discredited, just in time for the 100th anniversary of this heat wave.
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