The Decade’s Biggest Weather & Climate Disasters

There is generally always a time of reflection at the end of the year, and even more so at the end of a decade. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) is responsible for monitoring and assessing the climate, and one of the ways they so is by tracking and evaluating the climate events that have great economical and societal impacts. These include drought, flooding, freezes, severe storms, tropical cyclones, wildfires, and winter storms. We’ve gathered together a list of the ten events that had the greatest economic impact between 2010-2019. Note that the total cost of several events from 2019 are still being calculated, including:

  • Tropical Storm Imelda – September 2019; Imelda represents the fifth 500-year flood that has impacted a portion of southeast Texas over the last five years;
  • Hurricane Dorian – September 2019; Dorian’s intensification to a category 5 storm marks the fourth consecutive year, in which a maximum category 5 storm developed in the Atlantic basin – a new record;
  • Mississippi River, Midwest and Southern Flooding – July 2019; historic flooding impacting agriculture, roads, bridges, levees, dams and other assets across many cities and towns;
  • Arkansas River Flooding – June 2019; historic flooding impacts thousands of homes, cars and businesses  due a combination of high rivers, levee failure and persistently heavy rainfall from May 20 through mid-July;
  • Missouri River and North Central Flooding – March 2019; historic Midwest flooding inundates millions of acres of agriculture, numerous cities and towns and causes widespread damage to roads, bridges, levees and dams
Hurricane María approaching Puerto Rico on September 19, 2017. NOAA GOES-16 satellite image overlaid on NASA Blue Marble background image. Image by Tim Loomis, NOAA Satellites group. 
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Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

We at Shade Tree Meteorology are taking some time this week to enjoy some family time and spend the holidays with our loved ones, and we hope you are able to do the same. As we look back on 2019, we have seen some big changes happen, both professionally and personally. We have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog for you each week and we hope you enjoy this look back at our favorite blog posts of 2019!

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Tornado Preparedness? In December? Yep!

Hi friends. For those who might not be aware, the STM team is actually now based in two different areas – the Northeast, where we were founded, and the Southeast, where one of our team members now lives! Unsurprisingly, we now deal with very different weather-related issues. For example, at the time of this writing, I know that those of you living in New York are dealing with a winter storm all day today (December 17). On the other hand, yesterday I was able to go for a run in a tank top because the high temperature in my town was 75 degrees! Unfortunately, no location is perfect, and the southeast is known for it’s secondary severe weather season beginning in the late fall, sometimes lasting through early winter. In fact, on December 16, 2000, a powerful EF-4 tornado tore through Tuscaloosa County, killing 11 and injuring over 100. The tornado was on the ground for 18 miles, all within Tuscaloosa County. The tornado path was estimated to be 750 yards wide at its maximum intensity. Although the warnings were excellent for this tornado, the public perception still wasn’t where it should be.

Damage to houses from the December 16, 2000 tornado.
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NOAA Climate Analyses and Statistics

Did you know that NOAA regularly publishes articles that summarize recent weather events and the state of the climate ( https://www.noaa.gov/topic-tags/climate-analyses-and-statistics )? Generally, articles are released about twice or three times a month, and contain information about significant weather events, climate statistics for the United States for the previous month, and notes about significant studies or papers which have been published about the state of the climate. See below for details about some recent articles!

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Ready or Not, Winter is Here!

December 1 is the official start of meteorological winter, although most tend to use the astronomical calendar as the official start of seasons. Check out our blog from last year for a more detailed explanation on astronomical versus meteorological winters. Regardless of the official start date of winter, it’s clear that Jack Frost has made his arrival in several parts of the country already! In fact, before anyone had even sat down to enjoy their Thanksgiving meals with their families, winter weather was creating headaches for travelers along the west coast.

Caltrans and California Highway Patrol crews work to clear stranded vehicles from a stretch of northbound Interstate 5 in Northern California Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.
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Thankful for Thanksgiving

It seems so hard to believe, but today marks our fiftieth blog post!  We genuinely enjoy communicating with our readers each week.  In honor of thanksgiving and to celebrate this milestone, we thought it would be fun to reflect on all of the personal and professional blessings for which we are truly thankful.  We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and happy celebrations with loved ones this week!

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The 20th Northeast Regional Operational Workshop (NROW XX): How scientific research translates into better forecasts

This past week, I attended the Northeast Regional Operational Workshop, held here in Albany, New York. This conference is a local meeting, organized by forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albany, New York, which had its genesis 20 years ago as a means for forecasters at the NWS, researchers and academics at the University at Albany, and others to share results of research projects which relate directly to forecast operations in the National Weather Service. Today, the conference is attended by forecasters from many National Weather Service offices, students and faculty from the University at Albany, local media meteorologists, and representatives from the private sector such as myself.

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Winter Weather Preparedness

This week has been designated as Winter Weather Awareness Week in New York, and several other states across the country. Some states, such as Colorado, have already had their campaign for winter weather, while other states – such as Alabama, have a few weeks to go before their campaign kicks off. However, this is a great refresher for anyone to prepare for the upcoming season!

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