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Old March 12th 09, 10:20 PM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default February 2009 Global Weather Highlights



Hawaii, Southeast

Severe to extreme drought persisted across parts of the Hawaiian
Islands, the western continental U.S., northeastern Georgia, and
western South Carolina. Meanwhile, severe to exceptional drought
conditions were present across much of central Texas.

On February 7, stormy weather in the western United States caused
flooding and mudslides in areas of Southern California that had
previously been burned bare by wildfires. Nearly 30 homes flooded in
the city of Long Beach, many of which had up to 3 feet of standing
water. At least three waterspouts were spotted off the city's coast in
association with this storm (Associated Press).

Severe storms affected the south-central region of the United States
on the 10th, resulting in 12 preliminary reports of tornadoes along
with other many reports of hail and wind damage. A cluster of
tornadoes touched down across parts of central Oklahoma during the
afternoon and evening hours of February 10. Four twisters hit the
Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including one of EF2 intensity
National Weather Service). Three injuries were reported within the
city and at least six homes were destroyed near the neighboring suburb
of Edmond. Before the night ended, 15 people had been killed from the
outbreak, including 8 fatalities in the hardest-hit area of Lone
Grove, OK, where one tornado reached EF4 (Associated Press).

The Hawaiian Islands, which average one tornado per year, had a weak
tornado touch down in Kapolei, Oahu on February 11. Minor damage was
caused to the Kapolei golf course and to roofs of surrounding
buildings (BBC News). This was the first tornado on Oahu since
December 2005. No fatalities were reported.

Severe storms struck parts of Alabama and Georgia on February 18,
producing large hail and devastating tornadoes that caused the death
of one person and injured 16 others. Three confirmed tornadoes ripped
through central Georgia, downing power lines and trees, destroying
homes and a nightclub, and damaging schools. At the height of the
storm, nearly 13,400 homes and businesses across Georgia were left
without power (Associated Press).


A winter storm originating from the Pacific Ocean struck the United
States western coast on February 16. The storm, which extended from
Mexican border up to Oregon, brought heavy rain and snow to parts of
California, forcing the cancellation of the AT&T Pebble Beach National
Pro-Am's (golf tournament) final round due to flooded greens. Major
highways were temporarily closed as a result of the hazardous weather
(Associated Press).


A winter storm affected parts of northern New England on February 23,
forcing the cancellation of hundreds of schools and leaving 140,000
residents without power. The storm produced heavy snow accumulations
of nearly 61 cm (2 feet) in some areas. The largest snowfall was
reported in the town of Milo, northern Maine, which received 71.0 cm
(2.3 feet) of snow (Associated Press).


On February 5, China declared its highest level of emergency in eight
provinces that were suffering from their worst drought in 50 years
(Associated Press). The drought conditions (which began in November
2008) affected over 4 million people, leaving them without adequate
drinking water, and threatened more than 10 million hectares (24
million acres) of crops (BBC News/Associated Press). It was reported
that the drought was blamed for the occurrence of a fungal disease
that damages wheat (Associated Press).


The intense heatwave that plagued southern Australia during the end of
January continued to affect the region during February 6-8. The most
extreme heat during the second round of the heatwave took place on
February 7, which was mainly focused in Victoria. A state record and
perhaps the highest temperature ever recorded in the world so far
south was set that day when temperatures soared to 48.8°C (119.8°F)
in Hopetoun, surpassing the previous record of 47.C (117.F) set in
January 1939. Victoria's capital, Melbourne, also experienced a record
as temperatures reached 46.4C (115.5F). This exceeded the now second
highest record of 45.C (114.0F) set in January 1939. South Australia
recorded its second-highest minimum temperature on record for February
when temperatures only fell to 33.7C (92.7F) on the 7th. According
to reports, the heavy use of air conditioning prompted power outages
nearly 500,000 homes and businesses. The severe heat was blamed for
heat stress fatalities in Melbourne and 22 in South Australia
(Associated Press).

The extreme heatwave that scorched southern Australia during the end
January and beginning of February was accompanied by very dry
conditions. These conditions contributed to the development of
Australia's worst wildfires in history. Nearly 400 wildfires were
blazing across Victoria; however, many feared that some of these fires
were set by arsonists. Making matters worse was the wind, blowing the
fires in unpredictable directions in minutes. The devastating fires
decimated nearly 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of bushland in
Victoria (CNN), burned over 2,000 homes, and killed 210 people
(Associated Press/BBC News). A fatality in the fire zone occurred on
February 17 when a firefighter perished when a tree branch fell on his
truck. The number of fatalities exceeded the Ash Wednesday fires of
1983, which had a total of 75. The death toll of the February 2009
fires were expected to increase.

While southeastern Australia was scorched, the northeast was drenched.
Heavy downpours during the first week of the month pummeled the
northeast, generating floods that inundated homes and destroyed nearly
one-fifth of its sugar cane fields (AFP). Over 60 percent of
Queensland was submerged by water, and by February 3 much of the state
was declared
a disaster area. The hardest hit region was the town of Ingham, which
received over 400 mm (15.7 inches) of rain on February 3 and 366 mm
(14.4 inches) of rain in a 24-hour period on February 4. The excessive
rain damaged 2,900 homes. Residents in northeastern Australia were on
alert in snake and crocodiles roaming for search of dry land
(Associated Press).


The islands were pounded by heavy rain during the first week of
February, prompting floods that affected about 7,000 people. Ten
fatalities were reported (IFRC).


Heavy downpours caused a devastating landslide in northern Argentina
in the city of Tartagal on February 9. The landslide destroyed 30
houses, damaged over 300 homes and caused electric, water, and
telephone services to be disrupted. Nearly 20,000 people were affected
and two fatalities were reported with 2 others missing (IRFC).

In Brazil, heavy rainfall fell over the state of Rio de Janeiro during
February 12-16. Over 3,000 residents were forced to evacuate the
affected region, which was declared a disaster area (BBC News).

During the week of February 15, heavy downpours caused widespread
over large areas of western Colombia. The torrential rain triggered
the overflowing of rivers, inundating several towns on Colombia's
Pacific coast. Six fatalities were reported, with 14 others missing.
Nearly 2,500 families were affected by the floods (AFP/BBC News).


An extratropical storm brought heavy snow across parts of the United
Kingdom on February 2, wreaking havoc across the country. The adverse
weather was responsible for a major transportation halt. Over 250
flights were cancelled at Heathrow airport (London's largest and
busiest airport) as it closed its runways and London's bus and train
services were suspended, stranding millions of people (Reuters). It
was reported that prior to closing Heathrow's runways, a flight landed
and while taxiing towards its terminal it slid off the taxiway.
Fortunately, no injuries were reported (Associated Press). The worst
hit area was southeastern England, where some areas reported up to 25
cm (10 inches) of snow, with London having as much as 10 cm (4 inches)
(Associated Press). This was Britain's worst snowstorm since February
1991. The lack of transportation caused nearly 6.4 million employees
to miss work, and these disruptions are likely to cost businesses $4.3
billion (Associated Press). Britain's Met Office issued severe weather
warning across most of the country and forecasted that parts of the
southeast would be blanketed by nearly 15 cm (9 inches) of snow
(Reuters). Nevertheless, many of the cities had insufficient machinery
to deal with the snowfall (Associated Press). Two climbers died on
Snowdon (Wales highest mountain), but it was uncertain if their deaths
were related to the storm (CNN).

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