Vocabulary > Earth > Weather > Storms
A supercell thunderstorm
rolls across the
Montana prairie at sunset.
Photo and caption by Sean Heavey
Boston Globe > Big Picture > National Geographic's Photography Contest
2010 > November 19, 2010
A breaking wave engulfs the lighthouse at Seaford in East
as storms lashed the south coast
TOBY MELVILLE /REUTERS
Beware the tides of March
as violent storms lead to ninety flood warnings
By Terri Judd The Independent
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Boston Globe > Big Picture > Stormy skies
July 23, 2010
storm warning UK
Storm wreaks deadly havoc
26 January 1990
High winds kill 56.
Damage estimated at £750m.
Travellers stranded as BR closes.
Cabinet holds crisis meeting.
storm chasing / hunter
strong storm USA
fierce / violent storm
powerful storm USA
severe storm USA April 2011
the deadliest U.S. storm since February 2008,
when 57 people died in two days from tornadoes in the South and Ohio Valley
severe storm UK March 2008
severe storm UK
severe storm USA
violent storm USA
Great storm of 1987 UK
10 October 2007
The Great Storm on the night of October 15-16
left a trail of destruction across the south-east and east of England.
Some 360,000 trees were lost on National Trust
killer storm of 1968
Twenty-one people died that night,
most of them between 3am and 5am,
and three of them aboard a dredger that capsized off Greenock.
At least another 100 were seriously injured and
1,800 made homeless.
The wind tore down shipyard cranes and
church spires and school roofs,
and ripped the glass from the big greenhouses of the upper Clyde valley,
which then supplied Scotland with all of its tomatoes.
Four per cent of Scotland's commercial forests,
equivalent to 18 months' timber production, got flattened.
A quarter of a million houses were damaged,
more than 1,300 beyond repair.
The death and destruction came too late to be
recorded in Monday's papers,
but Tuesday's Scottish Daily Express published pages and pages,
including a memorable picture that looked down
through the gaping floors of a Glasgow tenement,
holed from top to bottom by a plunging chimney head.
gigantic midwinter storm
storm system USA
ferocious storm system
enormous storm system
powerful storm system
force ten storm UK
Phoenix dust storm
vicious storm UK
gales of up to 80mph
bring down cables
batter by waves
cut power to...
in strong winds
winds of 165 m.p.
winds of up to 165mph
a line of thunderstorms USA
severe flood warning
be lashed by giant waves
massive / huge waves
Tentacles of lightning cover the sky
over Voyle's Field early
June 18, 2009,
in Galesburg, Illinois.
Strong storms blew through western and central Illinois,
breaking tree limbs and knocking out power for thousands of residents.
AP Photo/The Register-Mail, Bill Gaither
Boston Globe > Big Picture > Lightning
Damaged homes near the corner of South Water and Birch Streets
in Harrisburg, IL,
after a severe storm hit Feb. 29, 2012.
Steve Jahnke/The Southern/Associated Press
Boston Globe > Big Picture > Tornadoes Rip Through the Midwest
and South March 1, 2012
Residents survey the damage after a severe storm hit
in the early morning hours on Feb. 29, 2012, in Harrisburg.
A severe pre-dawn storm pounded portions of southern Illinois.
Several deaths were reported in Harrisburg
and left the city's medical center scrambling to treat an
influx of injured.
Paul Newton/The Southern Illinoisan/Associated Press
Boston Globe > Big Picture > Tornadoes Rip Through the Midwest
and South March 1, 2012
trail of destruction
wreak havoc on... / wreak
create havoc for...
be left without power
This photo provided by Harry Gillway, the Kimball County
shows hail damage to the rear window of a car
in Kimball, Nebraska
on Monday, May 24, 2010.
Storms dumped heavy rain and hail
on Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
AP Photo/Kimball County Sheriff, Harry Gillway
Boston Globe > Big Picture > Stormy skies
When Each Bad Storm
Means More Dark Days
November 1, 2011
The New York Times
By PETER APPLEBOME
First came the heavy snow in February that crushed the hangar and destroyed
the vintage Piper J-5A airplane he housed in Dutchess County, N.Y. Then came the
tornado in June that ripped out an ancient oak tree in his backyard in Roxbury,
Conn. When Tropical Storm Irene blew through in August, another huge oak fell —
this time on his house, blasting a hole through a back bedroom. In each case,
electricity was lost.
So for Michael Frohne, a home improvement contractor and musician, his sinking
sense of familiarity was understandable when the October northeaster, which he
calls the Halloween hell storm, hit.
Once again, Mr. Frohne, who divides his time between homes in Roxbury and
Redding, Conn., was left with enormous tree damage and without power — at either
“I don’t want to do this anymore,” Mr. Frohne, 63, said. “I’m going to Costa
Rica in January, and I don’t know if I’m ever coming back.”
Along with the now-familiar candles, downed trees across the driveway and the
thawing hamburger meat taken from the freezer and tossed in the trash, the
region’s latest freak storm, which left three million people without
electricity, has left something else in its wake: increasing unease about just
what is going on and what it means for the vast majority outside the relative
stability of an underground urban power grid.
No one can know for sure if this is just the eternally unpredictable chaos of
weather on earth or it is something more ominous; call it the new abnormal. But
in recent years, suburban and rural residents have found themselves facing
multiple disruptions like Mr. Frohne’s. Experts say the violent weather of the
past few years in the Northeast is stressing the 20th century above-ground
utility grid as never before, along with the people who depend on it.
Few solutions are in sight. A report by the Edison Electric Institute updated at
the end of 2010 said that over the past 10 years, at least 11 states studied
putting utility lines underground — usually after devastating storms — only to
find it too expensive. “To date, no state utility commission has recommended
wholesale undergrounding of the utility infrastructure,” it concluded.
By Tuesday afternoon, 1.7 million customers in the Northeast remained without
service, according to The Associated Press, many of them repeat victims of power
failures that have left residents increasingly jittery with each new storm.
Sue Gress of New Canaan, Conn., said she tolerated the week spent without
electricity to pump her well or run her refrigerator after Tropical Storm Irene,
even though she had to lug a bucket of water from her swimming pool to flush her
toilet, live mostly on peanut butter crackers and swim instead of showering.
But the warm weather two months ago seems a far cry from the snowstorm that
drove her shivering from her home last weekend. And at 79 and living alone, Ms.
Gress finds a stray crisis tolerable but definitely not a steady diet of them.
She worries that meteorological excess is becoming the rule.
“It’s global warming,” she said. “No one wants to believe it, but things are
changing. There’s much more violent weather, and we’re not prepared to deal with
At least this disruption did not go on as long. She got her lights back on
Tuesday after three days.
After her own troubles this weekend, Susan Callahan of Summit, N.J., is for the
first time wondering about her comfortable suburban life.
On Saturday night, a branch from one of the old trees that surround the house
she has lived in for 30 years crashed down and ripped off part of her gutter and
badly damaged the roof of her porch. Then on Sunday, her husband, John Callahan,
trying to clean up the property, slipped on an icy stone and hit his head, and
Mrs. Callahan had to brave debris-strewn roads to get him to a hospital
emergency room, where he got six stitches.
On Monday, Mrs. Callahan drove to a State Farm insurance office in New
Providence to file a claim, but the office was without power and closed. She
left a note under the office’s locked door. It read, “Help.”
Having also lost electricity during the tropical storm, she admits to being a
“I called my friend who lives in New York City today and said, ‘When can we come
move there?’ ” Mrs. Callahan said.
She was not really ready to move but said that for the first time she was
thinking about whether it made sense to live in an environment less at the mercy
of the weather.
“I don’t know what’s going on, with tsunamis and volcanoes erupting and
earthquakes all over the world,” Mrs. Callahan said. “But things sure are
Others see more human failures than cosmic ones.
The utility Consolidated Edison “has gotten so unbelievably bad,” said David
Kirschstein, an 83-year-old retired patent lawyer, who has been living in the
same house in Chappaqua, N.Y., for 44 years.
“The winters used to be much worse, but even with the big snows, we had nothing
like the outages over the past four or five years,” he continued. “I’m just sick
A year ago, Mr. Kirschstein bought his first generator, which came in handy when
his power went out this weekend. “It seemed worth the money to get the generator
because Con Ed is terrible,” he said.
In fact, for increasing numbers of people, a generator is seen as a necessity,
if an expensive and imperfect one.
Eric Nowlin, vice president for customer service for Grainger, an industrial
supply company, said his generator sales around Tropical Storm Irene were
tenfold what is normal for that time of year, with people shopping at his stores
when mass-market retailers like Lowe’s are sold out. He said during and after
the tropical storm, Grainger sold “thousands and thousands” of generators.
“This kind of weather is becoming a fact of life,” he said. “People are saying,
‘I want to get a generator for the next time this happens.’ ”
The issues also go beyond electricity.
Martha Frankel, a writer who lives in West Shokan in the Catskills, said she and
her husband lost a private bridge connecting their property to the main road
after Tropical Storm Irene, which left them in the dark for 16 days. Then, a
month later, heavy rains washed away the temporary replacement bridge.
“I think in the last year, we’ve had Irene, which could be the 500-year storm,
plus three 10-year storms, a 50-year storm and a 100-year storm,” Ms. Frankel
said. “When it rains, nobody sleeps on my road. The stream starts roaring, and
there are thousands of trees in it. I’m not feeling particularly safe and
“We love this town, and we love our house and community. We always said we would
die here. And now, I think, I don’t know.”
Elizabeth Maker contributed reporting from Connecticut,
Nate Schweber from New Jersey
and Sari Botton from the Catskills.
When Each Bad Storm
Means More Dark Days, NYT, 1.11.2011,
a Widespread Path of Death and Damage
April 17, 2011
The New York Times
By KIM SEVERSON
The terrified look in one of her employee’s eyes was the first clue Terri
Rodriguez had that something was terribly wrong Saturday afternoon.
The worker had been washing kitchen equipment behind Golden Corral, a popular
restaurant in Sanford, N.C., when he spotted a giant black funnel cloud bearing
down. It was one of more than 90 tornadoes — what one meteorologist described as
a “family” of them — that hit the state on Saturday.
He ran to Ms. Rodriguez, who walked out the back door. She dodged a piece of
flying wood, and then she saw it: a dark funnel cloud thick with wood and metal
only a couple of blocks away.
About 140 people were eating in her restaurant, many of them in front of the
thick plate-glass windows that run the length of the place.
“All I could think is that I have to get them away from the glass because I knew
it would just cut them in half,” she said in an interview on Sunday. “I thought,
where can I put them? Then I yelled: ‘Tornado! Everyone to my kitchen!’ ”
People packed into the meat cooler and behind the stoves. Others jammed into the
restrooms. Then they waited. After five minutes, Ms. Rodriguez said, the
darkness lifted and she peeked out the back door.
The tornado, she said, had bounced up, skipped the Golden Corral and made a
sharp turn, setting down on top of a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center a few
hundred feet away.
“I could see the roof was just gone and all of the Lowe’s stuff flying up in the
air,” Ms. Rodriguez said.
The Lowe’s store in Sanford, a town of about 29,000 in the center of the state,
was essentially demolished. But an estimated 70 customers were saved when
another fast-thinking manager herded customers and his staff into a windowless
The storm killed at least two people in the Sanford area and injured several
more, according to Sheriff Tracy Carter of Lee County.
A string of tornadoes that began Thursday night in Oklahoma left of a trail of
death and millions of dollars in damage from the middle of America to the
Eastern Seaboard. But they reached their zenith on Saturday night in North
Officials said the storms killed at least 43 people and injured hundreds more.
No damage estimates were immediately available, but they will most certainly run
into the tens of millions of dollars.
Although April and May are the worst time for tornadoes in the South, this storm
system, which had its roots in the Pacific Ocean, was unusual for its size and
duration, officials said. The storm would calm itself a bit at night and then
gain renewed strength with the day’s heat, said Greg Carbin, warning
coordination meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
It brought flash floods, tornadoes and thunderstorms laced with giant balls of
hail to Oklahoma on Thursday, killing two elderly sisters, before moving east
through Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina and
The effects from the storms could be felt as far as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and
the New York City area on Saturday night, when furious wind-driven rains covered
roadways and produced isolated flooding.
When the system hit North Carolina on Saturday night, it spawned a record 92
tornadoes in the state, killing at least 22 people and injuring more than 80
others. At least 14 deaths were in Bertie and Hertford Counties, in a rural
northeast corner of the state where cotton, tobacco, peanuts, corn and soybeans
anchor the economy.
“Normally the storms that hit here are pretty severe but smaller in size,” said
Cal Bryant, the editor of The Roanoke-Chowan News Herald, which serves a part of
North Carolina that was most severely hit. “Now they are thinking it may have
been one big tornado. They’re trying to find where it stopped, and they haven’t
got there yet.”
Mr. Bryant, who spent Sunday with survivors in Bertie County, said rescue crews
were going house to house looking for dead or injured residents and assessing
damage. At least 60 houses, some of them mobile homes, were destroyed, and he
expected the count to go higher.
Scott Sharp, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Raleigh,
said the devastation was due to “a family of tornadoes” that were part of the
same thunderstorm system, with one rotating updraft cropping up after another
Still, the storm was not as bad as something meteorologists call “Super
Tuesday,” when a string of tornadoes in February 2008 claimed 56 lives, said Mr.
Carbin of NOAA. But it was unusual in that all of the weather stemmed from one
But for many of the states that lay in the path of this system, including North
Carolina, which had not seen such severe weather since the early 1990s, it was a
storm that will most likely takes months to recover from.
Gov. Bev Perdue of North Carolina, like governors in three other Southern
states, declared a state of emergency on Sunday. Twelve teams from the Federal
Emergency Management Agency were expected to arrive in North Carolina by Monday.
The agency is also sending teams to Mississippi and Alabama, said Rachel
Racusen, a FEMA spokeswoman.
In Raleigh, a city of 400,000, major avenues downtown were blocked by fallen
trees. Buildings were flattened in at least eight areas of Wake County, said
Sarah Williamson-Baker, a spokeswoman for the county.
Three siblings, who ranged in age from 2 to 5, were killed in a mobile home park
in Raleigh when a tree fell on their home. The three were in a bathtub,
according to a local news report.
The tornado seemed to make a direct cut through the area, Ms. Williamson-Baker
“There’s many places where there’s little left of buildings, and then in other
places nearby, there’s almost no damage,” she said.
Elizabeth Strauch, 41, lives in the Cranberry Ridge subdivision in Wilson, N.C.
Her house was destroyed. When she heard the tornado, she ran to a closet with
her cat and some personal belongings.
“What I thought was a tree falling down on the house was my roof falling down
and the attic falling through,” she said. She opened the door of her closet,
pushed back the debris and ran to her neighbors. The whole thing lasted about
“I thought I was going to die,” Ms. Strauch said. “I was hysterical.”
Near Raleigh, dormitories and classrooms at Shaw University, the oldest
historically black university in the South, were so damaged that classes were
canceled for the rest of the semester.
“After an assessment by experts, I will determine if summer school can be held
on campus or will be available only online,” the university president, Irma
McClaurin, said in a statement. “I think we are blessed that despite tremendous
structural damages to dormitories and the Willie Gary Student Union that not one
single person (student, faculty, staff or community members) was injured. We can
all give thanks for that.”
In Sanford, many were grateful, too. John Douglas, 42, a contractor, was inside
a tractor supply store when the tornado ripped the roof from the building.
He and a friend jumped on top of his daughter Abby, 9, as part of the ceiling
fell on top of them. He suffered a few minor scrapes and bruises, but they all
walked away otherwise unhurt.
“Everything was flying around inside the store. You could see the sky through
the roof,” Mr. Douglas said. “We just prayed to the Lord to help us through
Around the parts of the Southern states that were hardest hit, volunteers began
organizing food drives and fund-raisers. Many people were connecting through
Facebook and Twitter, and others were simply showing up to see how they might
In Sanford, the Salvation Army thrift store opened its doors at 3 p.m. and two
hours later had already accepted about 400 bags of clothes and household goods,
said Derek Oley, 29, the manager. They will start supplying food to people
“This community is just so awesome right now,” Mr. Oley said. “People are just
coming out from everywhere to help out.”
Kim Severson reported from Atlanta.
Robbie Brown contributed reporting from
Tarini Parti from Raleigh, N.C.,
and Joseph Berger from New York.
After Storms, a
Widespread Path of Death and Damage, R, 17.4.2011,
Yet Another Storm Buries the Northeast
January 27, 2011
The New York Times
By ANDY NEWMAN and KATIE ZEZIMA
A two-stage winter storm struck, paused, gathered its breath and delivered a
crippling blow to the Northeast early Thursday, dumping more than a foot of
snow, closing airports and schools, stranding commuters and shattering January
The storm, appearing as a giant white smudge over the Northeast on radar maps,
seemed to land hardest in New York City and the surrounding area. Nineteen
inches of heavy, wet snow fell on Central Park, tied for the highest total in
the region and only an inch less than the 20 inches that paralyzed the city a
month ago, according to the National Weather Service. But parts of Connecticut
and New Jersey received nearly as much, and snowfalls totaled at least a foot
from Boston to Philadelphia.
New York City schools and offices were closed, as were Newark, Teterboro and
John F. Kennedy airports. Commuter bus service was suspended throughout New
Jersey, Long Island and most of New York City, as hobbled train systems
struggled to absorb the overload. The storm created a fresh sense of snow
fatigue in a region that has been unusually battered.
Yet in New York City, where the slow municipal response to the Dec. 26 blizzard
became a black eye for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and transit officials, things
were not as dire as they could have been. Mr. Bloomberg said on the radio
Thursday morning that all primary roads had been plowed and some secondary
streets were beginning to be cleared.
By suspending bus service in the city, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
avoided a rerun of the December storm, when hundreds of buses got stuck in the
snow, blocking plows and other traffic. And unlike a month ago, there did not
immediately appear to be any riders stuck overnight on disabled subway trains.
At a 10 a.m. news briefing, Mr. Bloomberg said that while a few ambulances got
stuck in the snow, relief ambulances arrived quickly to ferry the ailing to
hospitals. And while the 911 system was flooded with calls and dispatches were
slowed, “no calls ever remained in a queue,” the mayor said.
This is a dramatically different situation from the December blizzard, when
ambulance delays were linked to deaths, hundreds of ambulances got stuck in the
snow and 911 calls were not answered for hours. The debacle led the city to
adopt a 15-point snow emergency management plan. Mr. Bloomberg said he expected
every street in the city to have been plowed by Friday morning and urged drivers
to stay off the roads, lest they be towed by the city at their owners’ expense
if they get stuck.
The cancellation of school meant that thousands of city high school students
scheduled to take the state Regents exam could not do so, but the mayor said:
“That’s a problem for the state. We’ll get to it later.”
Even before the storm started walloping the region overnight, the National
Weather Service had estimated that more than 37 inches of snow — almost double
the winter average — had fallen in Central Park this winter. The overnight
storms broke January snowfall records for Central Park, Newark, LaGuardia
Airport, Bridgeport and Islip, the Weather Service said Thursday morning.
In addition to the 19 inches in Central Park, the heaviest totals included 19
inches in Clifton, N.J.; 18.5 inches in North Haven, Conn.; 18.9 at Newark
airport; and 16.5 inches in Northport, N.Y., on Long Island, the Weather Service
On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Bloomberg declared a weather emergency. The weather
declaration wasn’t the only one that warned of another midwinter mess. The
National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning through 6 a.m. Thursday
for the city, Long Island and parts of northeastern New Jersey. The Weather
Service also issued a coastal flood advisory through 5 a.m., warning residents
along the coasts in parts of Connecticut, New Jersey and Long Island that
streets and roadways could experience minor flooding.
The snow hit some regions harder than others. In Washington, D.C., downed power
lines left hundreds of thousands of customers without power on Wednesday, and
officials were warning residents to keep their cars off the snow-slicked roads.
The weather even played havoc with President Obama’s schedule: After returning
to Washington from a quick trip to Wisconsin on Wednesday, Mr. Obama’s motorcade
spent an hour in rush hour traffic. He was supposed to return to the White House
by helicopter, the Associated Press reported, but Marine One was grounded
because of the weather.
In Massachusetts, hundreds of schools were closed and yet another commute was
snarled by snow. According to the National Weather Service nearly 10 inches of
snow fell at Logan Airport as of 7 a.m. Areas south and west of Boston saw the
most accumulation, with Milford, Mass., getting 16 inches and North Attleboro,
Two men had to be rescued from a car inside the parking garage of a Lynn, Mass.,
commercial building after its roof collapsed early Thursday morning. Both men
were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with minor injuries, said Peter
Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was experiencing heavy delays on
its train, subway and bus lines, and one branch of the trolley/subway line was
shut down because of a switch problem. Logan Airport remained open.
Mr. Judge said about 5,700 people lost power last night, mostly in Southeastern
Massachusetts. Power is restored to all but 1,000 people, Mr. Judge said.
The storm rolled in overnight, fortuitous timing for plow operators who could
barely keep up with snow that fell at a rate of up to two inches an hour, Mr.
Judge said. Having no one on the road and residents who mostly delayed their
start times at work made it much easier for crews to clear roadways, though
things were plenty sloppy early Thursday morning.
“Those crews were out there dealing with the snow when there weren’t as many
people on the road,” Mr. Judge said. “The reason it probably wasn’t in as good
of shape this morning is when it’s coming down an inch an hour the crews can
stay on top of it, and many times it was coming down two inches an hour. They do
a sweep, come back and they’re butting their heads against the wall.”
Snowfall — and snow budgets — are far above the average for this time of year,
but there is still plenty of winter left.
“I guess the average for the year for the Greater Boston area is around 40
inches, and now we’re at about 60,” Mr. Judge said. “We’re about halfway there
to get to the record, which is really scary when you think about it.”
Back in New York, Mr. Bloomberg’s weather-emergency declaration — which is not
the same as a snow emergency — meant that alternate-side parking and
parking-meter payments were being suspended immediately. So were garbage
pickups, at least “until further notice,” according to the declaration.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: January 27, 2011
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated
that the Port Authority
La Guardia airport early on Thursday morning.
It was Teterboro
Airport that was closed, not La Guardia.
Yet Another Storm Buries
the Northeast, NYT, 27.1.2011,
Storm Upon Storm for South Dakota
November 20, 2010
The New York Times
By A. G. SULZBERGER
VIVIAN, S.D. — The storm slammed into this dusty prairie town
with the clatter of falling bricks. Hail shattered windows, punched holes in
roofs and mangled cars. The clumps of ice were left to melt, but one, an unusual
spiked orb the size of a cantaloupe, was preserved in the freezer of an old
Locals later claimed that it was not even the largest hailstone to fall that
day, and added that it had shrunk a bit while in the freezer before electricity
was restored. But when the official measurements were made — a record-setting
1.93 pounds and 8 inches in diameter — the results confirmed what the
still-visible trail of damage had already made painfully apparent: that was some
“This record,” said Leslie G. Scott, the ranch hand, “I think I’m going to hold
for a while.”
Even in an agricultural state that has always prided itself on stoically
accepting the offerings of unpredictable skies here at the heart of the
continent, South Dakota is nearing the end of an unusually punishing year of
The year began as residents were still digging out of a record-setting statewide
dump of 15.4 inches of snow, and the ensuing months have delivered a parade of
ice storms, tornadoes, floods and, with a climactic thud, the nation’s largest
The seven presidential disaster declarations issued here — part of a record 78
nationwide so far this year — more than doubled the number in any previous year,
naming all but 10 of the 66 counties as a disaster area; some many times over.
And after losing roads and power lines, watching homeowners displaced and crops
drowned, the residents now speak with an exhausted fatalism, though rarely with
Gov. Michael Rounds, with typical understatement, said, “We just happened to
have a run of bad weather.”
The financial impact of the bad weather is difficult to calculate, but the state
has estimated at least $112 million in damage to public infrastructure, the loss
of more than 6 percent of the year’s harvest of corn, soybeans and other crops,
and the untold costs of the disrupted lives of the state’s 812,000 residents.
The disaster declarations allow the state and local governments to recoup up to
75 percent of the costs for uninsured losses from the federal government.
Federal crop insurance has also offset much of the loss on farms.
Nevertheless, the state secretary of agriculture called it “one of the most
devastating years in memory.”
Greg Vavra, mayor of Wessington Springs and the highway superintendent for the
surrounding county, which was hit by an ice storm and several rounds of
flooding, said, “It’s by far the worst I’ve seen here.”
For a 10-day period all but three of Jerauld County’s 18 roads were impassable;
some were destroyed.
“I remember years of bad winters,” Mr. Vavra said. “Usually it was here, then it
was gone. This year it never stopped.”
Kristi Turman, the state emergency management director, has overseen the
recovery efforts. “People are used to extreme weather here,” she said. “When
winter comes, we know we’re going to have blizzards, we know there are going to
be days when we can’t travel or see out our windows, we know the temperature
will drop to 20 below. And when spring comes, we know it’s going to flood.
“But this year it’s been storm after storm after storm after storm,” she
continued. “It just hasn’t let up, and it’s wearing on people.”
These have not been the charismatic disasters that wreak havoc in a single,
Hollywood-style demonstration of natural might. There has been no trembling
earth, rampaging waves or swirling hurricane clouds. There has been no induction
to local legend akin to the 67 twisters that rampaged across South Dakota on a
single summer day seven years ago known as “Tornado Tuesday.” Indeed, not a
single death has been directly attributed to the disasters.
Instead these comparably modest weather events have combined forces to inflict
damage like a plague of grasshoppers: bit by bit. (And yes, the state had that
too.) This was particularly true of the flooding, which stretched out over
spring, summer and into fall, and which, taken together, makes for the wettest
period in at least a century, said Dennis Todey, the state climatologist.
Some farmers said their fields were swamped as many as six times in as many
months, with earthen barriers being washed out and rebuilt only to be washed out
again and again.
“We just had a lot of extreme weather that maybe didn’t make the national news
but caused serious disruptions,” said W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has established a near-permanent
presence in the state this year. “For whatever reason, the weather keeps hitting
In the town of Davis, sandbags remain piled in front of some houses and the
water-logged fields still hold shallow pools of water and several unapproachable
islands of unharvested corn where the ground is too wet to allow access. Several
farmers here said that the area had been getting wetter for decades but that
this year was the worst they had seen. Land that was once too dry for corn is
now getting too wet.
“This was the first year since 1954 that this farm hasn’t been irrigated,” said
LaRohn Hagena, 58, who lost a good portion of his crops to repeat flooding. “And
I’ve always said if I don’t have to irrigate here, it’s going to be damn wet.”
Down the road, Gary Knock, 60, works the same section of land that once belonged
to his great-grandfather. He said that he does not believe in global warming but
that there is no missing the changes that have occurred here. He blames natural
weather cycles for the milder winters, cooler summers and all the water.
“The flooding is increasingly getting worse,” said Mr. Knock, who lost 160 acres
of corn to the river that parallels his property. “People are getting disgusted
with it. Because it’s not just some years and it’s not just once a year. It’s
three times or four times a year. Extreme is normal — that sounds crazy, but
that is how it is.”
With the rivers well above normal level and the ground nearly saturated, the
state is bracing for another difficult year next year.
Storm Upon Storm for
South Dakota, NYT, 20.11.2010,
A history of great British storms
Monday March 10 2008
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk
on Monday March 10 2008.
It was last updated at 09:32 on March 10 2008.
The storm battering the coast of Britain may be causing panic and threatening
disruption, but it looks unlikely to be as bad as previous gales to have struck
The worst storm ever recorded in the UK struck in the 18th century, damaging
property, felling trees and killing thousands.
The "Great Storm" hit southern Britain on the night of November 26 1703. By the
next morning, between 8,000 and 15,000 people were dead, many of them on ships
sunk at sea. Church spires were destroyed, tiles and chimney stacks covered the
streets, and more than 400 windmills were broken.
One ship, belonging to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, was blown across the
North Sea to Sweden.
On October 14 1881, a storm struck Berwickshire, south-east Scotland. Nearly 200
fishermen, mostly from the village of Eyemouth, died in what residents still
call Black Friday.
In 1953 hurricane-force winds led to a disastrous storm surge in which 300
On January 31 and February 1 that year, the surge engulfed the east coast from
the Wash down to Essex, reaching 2.74 metres at Southend, Essex, and 2.97 metres
at King's Lynn, Norfolk. From Yorkshire to the Thames Estuary, coastal defences
were pounded by the sea until they gave way.
Nearly 24,000 houses were damaged and 72,845 hectares (180,000 acres) flooded,
while thousands of trees were blown down in Scotland. A car ferry, the Princess
Victoria, on passage from Stranraer, Scotland, to Larne, Northern Ireland, sank
with the loss of 133 lives - only 41 of the passengers and crew survived.
The worst storm since 1703 occurred in October 1987, making landfall in Cornwall
before travelling north-east towards Devon and over the Midlands.
Gusts of wind reaching about 100mph were recorded at the south-east of the
storm, mainly affecting Essex and Kent.
The storm caused £1.5bn worth of damage, uprooted 15 million trees and killed 18
people. Cars were destroyed, roofs torn off buildings, and a pier on the Isle of
Wight ripped to pieces.
In October 2000, during the UK's wettest autumn for 200 years, a storm caused
five major rivers to reach record flood levels, causing an estimated £1bn worth
of damage. Gusts of 93mph left about 60,000 houses in the East Midlands without
A history of great British storms, G,
Atlantic Tropical Storms Have Doubled
July 29, 2007
Filed at 7:05 p.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of tropical storms developing annually in the
Atlantic Ocean more than doubled over the past century, with the increase taking
place in two jumps, researchers say.
The increases coincided with rising sea surface temperature, largely the
byproduct of human-induced climate warming, researchers Greg J. Holland and
Peter J. Webster concluded. Their findings were being published online Sunday by
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.
An official at the National Hurricane Center called the research ''sloppy
science'' and said technological improvements in observing storms accounted for
From 1905 to 1930, the Atlantic-Gulf Coast area averaged six tropical cyclones
per year, with four of those storms growing into become hurricanes.
The annual average jumped to 10 tropical storms and five hurricanes from 1931 to
1994. From 1995 to 2005, the average was 15 tropical storms and eight hurricanes
Even in 2006, widely reported as a mild year, there were 10 tropical storms.
''We are currently in an upward swing in frequency of named storms and
hurricanes that has not stabilized,'' said Holland, director of mesoscale and
microscale meteorology at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in
''I really do not know how much further, if any, that it will go, but my sense
is that we shall see a stabilization in frequencies for a while, followed by
potentially another upward swing if global warming continues unabated,'' Holland
It is normal for chaotic systems such as weather and climate to move in sharp
steps rather than gradual trends, he said.
''What did surprise me when we first found it in 2005 was that the increases had
developed for so long without us noticing it,'' he said in an interview via
Holland said about half the U.S. population and ''a large slice'' of business
are ''directly vulnerable'' to hurricanes.
''Our urban and industrial planning and building codes are based on past
history,'' he said. If the future is different, ''then we run the very real risk
of these being found inadequate, as was so graphically displayed by (Hurricane)
Katrina in New Orleans.''
Hurricanes derive their energy from warm ocean water. North Atlantic surface
temperature increased about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit during the 100-year period
studied. Other researchers have calculated that at least two-thirds of that
warming can be attributed to human and industrial activities.
Some experts have sought to blame changes in the sun. But a recent study by
British and Swiss experts concluded that ''over the past 20 years, all the
trends in the sun that could have had an influence on the Earth's climate have
been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in
global mean temperatures.''
As the sea surface temperatures warm, they cause changes in atmospheric wind
fields and circulations, and these changes are responsible for the changes in
storm frequency, Holland said.
Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center, said the study is
inconsistent in its use of data.
The work, he said, is ''sloppy science that neglects the fact that better
monitoring by satellites allows us to observe storms and hurricanes that were
simply missed earlier. The doubling in the number of storms and hurricanes in
100 years that they found in their paper is just an artifact of technology, not
But Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
said the study was significant. ''It refutes recent suggestions that the upward
trend in Atlantic hurricane activity is an artifact of changing measurement
systems,'' said Emanuel, who was not part of the research team.
Improvements in observation began with aircraft flights into storms in 1944 and
satellite observations in 1970. The transitions in hurricane activity that were
noted in the paper occurred around 1930 and 1995.
''We are of the strong and considered opinion that data errors alone cannot
explain the sharp, high-amplitude transitions between the climatic regimes, each
with an increase of around 50 percent in cyclone and hurricane numbers,'' wrote
Webster, of Georgia Institute of Technology, and Holland.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.
On the Net:
Royal Society Publishing:
National Center for Atmospheric Research:
Georgia Institute of Technology:
Atlantic Tropical Storms
Have Doubled, NYT, 29.7.2007,
Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia > Weather
History > 2005 > USA > Natural disasters > Katrina