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Old March 10th 10, 06:34 PM posted to sci.geo.meteorology
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Default February 2010 Global Weather Highlights




According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of February 23rd less than
eight percent of the U.S. (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico)
was experiencing moderate to extreme drought. Drought afflicted 82
percent of Hawaii's land cover, with 13 percent of the region in
extreme drought, including northern and southeastern areas of the Big
Island, and leeward portions of Maui and Moloka'i. According to NOAA's
Climate Prediction Center, the El Nino phenomenon anomalously warm
ocean waters in the equatorial Pacific is responsible for the
continuing dry conditions over Hawaii.


Polar air reached far into the deep southern U.S. during January and
February. The unusually cold temperatures were caused by a strong
negative Arctic Oscillation where polar air shifts southward which
regularly brought temperatures below 35F (2C) in Miami, Florida. The
record cold weather caused ocean temperatures in the Florida Keys to
drop below 59F (15C), bleaching and killing coral reefs, which
cannot survive the sustained cool water temperature. Area coral
experts reported that they had not seen a bleaching of this magnitude
due to cold temperatures since the winter of 1977/78 (Source: AFP).


Sudden heavy rains led to mudslides on February 6th that damaged or
destroyed dozens of residences in the foothills north of Los Angeles,
an area that was ravaged by wildfires during the summer of 2009.
Fortunately, no one was injured as mud, boulders, and debris crashed
into homes and cars at 4 a.m. local time.

Northeast and mid-Atlantic

The northeastern U.S. was slammed with a major slow moving storm on
February 26th . The nor'easter brought heavy snow, rain, and hurricane-
force winds from Ohio to Maine, closing roads and causing more than
1,000 flight cancellations. More than one million residents and
businesses lost power. This latest storm brought New Brunswick, New
Jersey its snowiest month on record, with more than 37 inches (94 cm)
recorded while New York City also recorded it's snowiest month on
record at 36.9 inches (93.7 cm). This storm was also the city's fourth
largest snowstorm in history (20.9 inches [53.1 cm]). Winds as high as
91 mph (146 km/hr) were reported near Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


A historic blizzard walloped the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. on
February 5th -6th . Dubbed 'Snowmageddon' by local media, this was the
second major snow storm to dump more than 16 inches (41 cm) on the
region during the 2009/10 winter season. A very large North Atlantic
extratropical cyclone created an upper-level low, which helped block
the mid-Atlantic snowstorm from moving northward. Colesville, Maryland
a suburb of Washington D.C.—received the most snowfall, with 40
(102 cm) recorded. Several preliminary all-time records were reported,
including a state record of 26.5 inches (65.3 cm) that fell in
Wilmington, Delaware, breaking the old record of 25.0 inches (63.5 cm)
set in 2003. It was the second snowiest storm in Philadelphia's
history, with 28.5 inches (72.4 cm) reported, falling short of the
30.7 inches
(78.0 cm) recorded January 7^th -8^th , 1996. Washington Dulles
Airport received 32.4 inches (82.3 cm), its largest two-day snowfall
total on record. The snow was so deep in some areas that bulldozers
had to be used in place of traditional snowplows to clear roads. The
storm effectively paralyzed a large portion of the mid-Atlantic
region. Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland declared states of
emergencies. Hundreds of thousands of people lost power; schools,
airports, and bus systems closed; and roofs caved in from the weight
of the heavy snow.


Just days later, on February 9th and 10th, the eastern U.S. was struck
by yet another major winter storm. This event brought 19 inches (48
cm) of new snow to Baltimore, 16 inches (41 cm) to Philadelphia, 10 to
16 inches (25 to 41 cm) to New York City, 20 inches (51 cm) to New
Jersey, and 10 inches (25 cm) to Washington, D.C. The storm helped to
solidify the all-time seasonal snowfall record for three major cities
(as of February 11^th ): Washington, D.C. (54.9 inches [139.4 cm],
breaking the old record of 54.4 inches [138.2 cm] set during the
winter of 1898/99), Baltimore (72.3 inches [183.6 cm], shattering the
old record of 62.5 inches [158.8 cm] during the winter of 1995/96),
and Philadelphia (70.3 inches [178.6 cm], breaking the old record of
65.5 inches [166.4 cm] also set during the winter of 1995/96). The
storm affected an estimated 50 million people across the Southern
Plains up through the East Coast. Two 50 car pile-up one on Interstate
64 near Williamsburg, Virginia and one on Interstate 80 in central
Pennsylvania were reported. Nine people were killed, including one
person who died in the Interstate 80 pile-up. Preliminary estimates
from a risk management firm placed total economic losses from both
February storms at more than two billion U.S. dollars (Source: AFP).


Unusual snow storms continued to roll in the U.S. On February 12th,
Dallas, Texas received 11.2 inches (28.4 cm) of snow, demolishing the
old record of 7.8 inches (19.8 cm), set on January 15^th -16^th ,
1964. It also brought Dallas its snowiest winter on record (14.4
inches [36.6 cm], breaking the previous record of 14.1 inches [35.8
cm] set during the winter of 1977/78). More than 180,000 people lost
power in the area. The storm continued to move east, bringing snow to
regions of the South that rarely experience this type of event,
including Georgia, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle. On February
13th , snow was present in 49 of the 50 U.S. states with Hawaii being
the lone snow-free state.


By the end of February, the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, and Guizhou
in southern China were reporting moderate to severe drought across
much of the region, along with northwestern Guangxi, southern Gansu,
eastern Qinghai, western Hunan, southwestern Hubei, south Shaanxi,
southeastern Chongqing, and middle and southern Xizang (source:
Beijing Climate Center. Extreme drought, the most dangerous category
as listed by the Beijing Climate Center, also covered portions of
Guizhou. China Daily Newspaper reported that the region was
experiencing its worst drought in more than a half century. Rainfall
in Hunan since July 2009 measured about 7.9 inches (200 mm) record low
amount while average temperatures were about 4F (2C) above normal.
More than 7.5 million people in southern China lacked drinking water,
with many villagers reporting that they had to walk several kilometers
to fetch or purchase water in nearby towns (Source: Xinhua).Across
southern China, an estimated 8.80 million acres (3.56 million
hectares) of crops were affected by the drought. Direct economic
agricultural losses due to the drought disaster have been estimated at
556 million U.S. dollars, according to the Ministry of Data Affairs
(Source: Beijing Climate Center.

In Mongolia, extremely frigid winter weather has continued since
December 2009, with temperatures dropping as low as -58F (-50C).
According to the United Nations, 1.7 million livestock vital to this
poor, rural country have been killed during this period. A summer
drought in 2009 prevented farmers from stockpiling food for their

In Afghanistan, 170 people were killed and dozens more were injured as
a series of avalanches crashed onto the Salang Pass north of Kabul
during a heavy blizzard on February 8^th . Cars and buses were pushed
off the mountain, crashing into the valley below. Local officials
called the event one of the worst natural disasters to affect the
country. Avalanches of this magnitude in the area are unusual during
the winter, but occur more frequently when heavy snow melts in spring
(Source: BBC).

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, a massive avalanche struck part of a
high altitude army training camp on February 10th, killing 17 soldiers
who were taking a ski test. According to an army spokesman, although
avalanches are common in this region, it was one of the deadliest to
occur in recent years (Source: AP).

Thirty-eight people died and 18 were missing when an avalanche hit a
remote village in Kohistan district in northwestern Pakistan on
February 18th. Landslides and deep snow blocked roads, presenting
difficulties for rescue workers (Source: BBC).


In Santos, Brazil a coastal city near Sao Paulo 32 people between the
ages of 60 and 90 died during an unseasonably high heat wave.
Temperatures soared above 102F (39C) on February 8th and remained
well above 86F (30C) in the following days (Source: AP).


February 2010 was the third warmest February on record for Western
Australia (85.2F [29.6C], average of daily maximum and minimum
recorded temperatures). With below average rainfall, this month
follows the third
hottest December and second hottest January, making this summer season
the hottest on record for the state 0.4°F 0.2C warmer than the
previous record set during the summer of 1997/98. (Source: Bureau of


On February 6th, after days of torrential rains, a mudslide crushed
several cars on a road leading to a popular weekend destination for
residents in Mexico State, killing 11 people with 20 more reported
missing. Earlier in the week, 16 people died in heavy rains and floods
in the neighboring state of Michoacán and two children were killed in
the state of Guanajuato (Source: Reuters). The rainstorms are unusual
in central Mexico's dry winter season; rain falls in this region
almost exclusively between May and October.


On February 20th, the worst natural disaster to hit the Portugese
island of Madeira since at least the late nineteenth century according
to public records led to flash floods and landslides that killed 42
people and injured more than 120 others. Many streets in the capital
city of Funchal were filled with mud, water, and debris, overturning
vehicles as many residents clung to railings to keep from being swept
away (Source: BBC).

On February 27th, a strong Atlantic cyclonic depression named Xynthia
tore northeastward across coastal western Europe with hurricane force
winds and heavy rains. It was the worst storm in that region since
1999, killing at least 62 people the majority in France, where sea
walls broke in the town of L'Agillon and a national disaster was
declared. More than one million people across France, Spain, Germany,
Portugal, and Belgium lost power as winds reached nearly 100 mph (160
km/hr) along the coast. Wind speeds of 109 mph (175 km/hr) were
recorded atop the Eiffel Tower
in Paris.


In Indonesia, a rain-triggered landslide killed at least 46 people at
a tea plantation in a mountainous region on the island of Java on
23rd (Source: AP). It was estimated that about 500 villagers lost
their homes and were forced to evacuate to other nearby villages.


On February 26th, torrential rains brought more than five feet (1.5 m)
of flood water into the streets in the coastal city of Les Cayes,
Haiti, an area unscathed by the massive January 2010 earthquake.
Eleven people were killed during this storm, with the rainy season
still weeks away.


In Moscow, a snowstorm February 20th -21st dumped a record 24.8 inches
(63 cm), breaking the previous record of 24.4 inches (62 cm) set in
1966. Nearly 2,800 miles (4,500 km) of rail track had to be cleared of
snow (Source: BBC News).

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