Extreme weather fits in multiple categories: heat waves, rainfall, droughts, snowstorms, and other weather phenomena. It only occurs five percent of the time which means it is very rare. It headlines news and sets records; it is talked about years later. There have been many occurrences of extreme weather that is recorded in the history books. Recent years have seen extreme weather events that have broken records from decades and centuries past.
The Storm of the Century
This event occurred in 1993 and was given the title because of the severity of the storm. It happened on March 12-13 and was unique because of its intensity and size and the range it covered. It stretched from Canada to Central America with hurricane force winds and record low barometric pressures. It affected forty percent of the United States' population and set records for snowfall, including Florida. 310 people were killed in this massive storm. Every major airport on the East Coast was closed and there was no traffic on any of the interstates north of Atlanta.
2011 Joplin Tornado
It was the deadliest single tornado in over half a century. At one point, its width spanned over a mile, bringing devastation to over twenty-five percent of the city and killing 159 people. Over two thousand buildings were destroyed, including a hospital, high school, and buildings where rescue vehicles were stored. It's the seventh deadliest tornado in US history and may end up being the costliest at close to three billion dollars.
China Drought of 2010
It was deemed the worst drought in the country in 100 years. More than sixteen million people suffered water shortage and eleven million livestock. It lasted eight months and caused a shortage in crops. Rice was in short supply despite rescue efforts and prices raised for the products that were available. Many people were out of work due to the drought and had to go elsewhere to look for jobs.
Europe Heat Wave
In 2003, northern Europe had record high temperatures over 20 degrees higher than their usual highest temperatures. It affected many countries, including Italy, France, Belgium, and the UK. It was the hottest summer on record in Europe since 1540. It was the first time London had ever reported triple digit temperatures.
Crops suffered which resulted in food shortages and many other complications arose due to the intense heat. Since many homes in that area of the world don't have air conditioning, the heat resulted in over thirty-five thousand deaths. France alone had fourteen thousand deaths reported as a result of the heat. Heat waves are responsible for more deaths in Europe than other weather-related issues like hurricanes and tornadoes combined and the one in 2003 broke records.
Starting in December 2010, a series of floods hit Australia. The flood zone was larger than the state of Texas; three-fourths of the state of Queensland was severely damaged. The country suffered an estimated loss of thirty billion in gross domestic product, hurting the economy even further. Nine major highways were closed at some point and thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. Over seventy cities were affected by the flooding.
In January 2011, Victoria also flooded, continuing the country's devastation. Fifty communities were affected in this state. Even areas that remained dry felt the results from the flood as they had limited access to supplies. They were cut off from other towns and medicines and other supplies had to be ferried in.
There is nothing as awe-inspiring or spectacular as an extreme weather event. It's uncontrollable and unstoppable and all people can do is watch and prepare. While the effects are devastating, the true spirit of human kindness shows through in every event.