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2013 Part 2: Severe Storms, Flooding, Wildfires and Ice

December 31, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologists


The second half of 2013 included more severe weather outbreaks, massive flooding, an epic wildfire and a significant ice storm. Here is a recap of the major events that unfolded during the second half of the year:

June 12-13: Derechos Rake East and Midwest:

Just a week before summer, a rash of severe thunderstorms zipped through the Midwest and Eastern U.S., producing derechos, a long-lived line of thunderstorms that sweep across hundreds of miles, causing damage in their path. The first derecho brought devastating thunderstorms that produced powerful winds and destructive tornadoes in the Upper Mississippi Valley. The system carved a 200 mile-long path of destruction from Illinois to New Jersey in under 12 hours. On June 13, a second derecho formed in the southern Ohio Valley and raced to the Southeast Atlantic Coast.

Combined, the derechos spawned 30 tornadoes. The strongest, an EF-3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, hit near Belmond and Alexander, Iowa, with estimated winds at 155 mph. The top wind gust was clocked in Wabash, Ind., at 95 mph on June 12 while baseball-sized hail damaged power lines, trees and homes. In all, the four deaths were attributed to the derechoes.

June 28-July 10: Deadly Yarnell Hill Wildfire:

A long-term drought in Arizona became the breeding ground for the deadliest wildfire in the state and sixth deadliest in the U.S. A lightning strike ignited the blazed, which scorched 8,000 acres. The inferno forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents and closed down miles of roadways. Only 1 of 20 firefighters from the Prescott Fire Department battling the blaze survived following a massive firestorm. A flag pole has since been erected at their deployment site in memory of the selfless acts they committed to stop the blaze.

September 12-14: Colorado Floods:

Prior to mid-September, most of Colorado was plagued by moderate to extreme drought. The tables turned drastically as a deluge slammed the northern Front Range with a 1,000 year event. The rainfall during a three-day period was measured in feet in a few unlucky Front Range and Rocky mountain locations. Boulder, Colo. saw 17.15 inches of rain over three days, shattering records since 1897. Fort Carson and Colorado Springs, Colo., both saw record-breaking rainfall totals topping out at greater than a foot.

The resulting flood caused a massive 27,000 gallon oil spill in the northern Colorado oil fields that cost the state`s agriculture industries more than $100 million. At the height of flood on Sept. 16, more than 1,000 residents were reported missing, more than 2,000 homes were damaged and 2,000 square miles of land were inundated. All of the missing were eventually accounted, but eight residents did lose their lives.

November 17: Washington, Ill., Tornado Outbreak:

A late-season but significant outbreak of severe weather left several Midwestern towns in ruins just a little over a week before Thanksgiving. Cities in central Illinois received the heaviest blow as thunderstorms produced two EF-4 tornadoes that ravaged Washington, Ill., and a corridor of Interstate 64. One of the tornadoes, with winds peaking at 170 to 190 mph, blew a tractor trailer off the highway and damaged nearby farms as it passed through the area four miles outside of New Minden, Ill. Further north, another EF-4 tornado tore through neighborhoods, destroying hundreds of homes and buildings, as well as injuring at least 125 residents. Combined, both tornadoes took the lives of four Illinoisans.

As the storms moved northeast, severe thunderstorms struck northern Illinois where the Chicago Bear`s game was delayed for two hours. Thunderstorms continued to boom in Michigan as well, where more than half a million people lost electricity from downed power lines due to high winds and two additional people lost their lives. Indiana also felt the brute force of the outbreak as 36 residents were injured due to the storms.

Despite the deadly tornadoes that ravaged the U.S. in 2013, the tornado count was the lowest in at least the last 50 years. The Storm Prediction Center indicates there was a preliminary count of 802 tornadoes.

December 21-22: Michigan Ice Storm:

With Christmas just around the corner, most folks were hustling to complete their holiday checklists. Mother Nature decided to throw a wrench into some shoppers` plans. Cold, Canadian air seeping south teamed up with copious Gulf moisture to squeeze out a destructive ice storm across the Great Lakes. Up to three-fourths of an inch of ice coated Martin and Delton, Mich. Temperatures stayed below freezing for five days following the ice storm, leaving more than half a million people without power straight through Christmas Day. Carbon monoxide poisoning and traffic accidents were blamed for five deaths.

For a look at the weather stories that made headlines for the first half of 2013, click here.

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Story Images: Courtesy of WeatherBug users, the Associated Press, the National Weather Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture

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