Friday, January 2, 2009

My top 5 weather events of 2008

Lets take a break from the future, and lets take a look back at what happened in 2008. Huge tornado outbreaks with large and destructive tornadoes, record hurricane season, record snow, arctic outbreaks and flooding rains affected te country this year. 2008 was definitly one wild ride.

I want to give you my top 5 weather events of 2008.

My #5 pick goes to te Parkersburg EF-5 tornado... On May 25, 2008, a large and destructive tornado formed over central Iowa, and traveled just north of Waterloo, IA. The twister first touched down near Butler, IA and rapidly intensified to EF-5 status in the town of Parkersburg, IA. The ½ mile wide tornado with winds over 200 mph destroyed much of the town. The tornado continued its EF-5 damage through the town of New Hartford, IA. Then it began to weaken and incredibly grew to just over a mile wide with winds of only EF-2 strength!

My #4 goes to the late Spring and Early Summer midwest flooding...During the months of June and July, storm after storm moved across the Midwest and dumped copious amounts of rainfall across the states of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, and Wisconsin. Many locations in these states received over a foot of rain both months. This extremely excessive rainfall resulted in flooding, that in some cases surpassed the 1993 flood.

I live in Linn County, Missouri and we had over 15 inches of rain in June, and over 10 inches in July. In both months, 5-9 inches fell in one night! This caused widespread flash flooding around the area. 2008 will go into the record books as the wettest missouriin recorded history, even surpassing the 1993 deluge. In 1993, 56.9 inches of rain fell. In 2008, the state was just under 56 inches, but a late December rain storm dumped a widespread 1-3 inches, putting the state just over 57 inches!

My #3 pick goes to the overlooked Tropical Storm Fay...A vigorous tropical wave tracked across the Caribbean, but Hurricane Hunters were unable to find a closed circulation despite Tropical Storm force winds. Then on August 15th, a closed circulation was found and the system was named a Tropical Storm.

Fay dumped heavy rains on Hispaniola and eventually made landfall in southwestern Florida with 60 mph winds and actually strengthened some over land. But winds were not the issue, it was the rains. Rainfall totals were up to 25 inches in spots causing massive flooding. The storm stuck with Florida for 9 days, and making 3 different landfalls in the state! Fay’s rainfall continued inland causing more flooding problems.

The system caused over 150 million dollars in damage and killed 12 people. Fay will go into the record books as the 2nd Tropical Storm, along with Allison whose name was retired.

My #2 pick has to go to the Feb. 5th and 6th Super Tuesday tornado outbreak...On February 5th and 6th a Winter tornado outbreak affected the southern states into the Ohio Valley. This was Super Tuesday with 24 states holding their primary elections and caucuses to select their presidential candidates. There were 87 total tornadoes causing 57 deaths and injuring many more. There were thirty one EF-0’s…thirty EF-1’s… sixteen EF-2’s…five EF-3’s…and five EF-4’s.

And finally....My #1 pick definitley goes to Hurricane Ike...Why Hurricane Ike? Well, the first reason was its long life span - developing west of the Cape Verde Islands out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, it held together all the way across Cuba, and into Galveston.

The 2nd reason was due to the shear size of the system in the Gulf of Mexico. At one point the diameter of Ike's tropical storm and hurricane force winds were 450 and 190 miles. This created a very large storm surge, that extended almost all of the Gulf coast line.

The 3rd reason was as he was only a Category 2 at landfall with winds of 110 mph. He ended up ranking as the 3rd costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Then the 4th and main reason is due to the damage it caused deep inland. The remnants of Hurricane Ike combined with an Ohio Valley frontal system creating strong pressure gradients and led to widespread damaging 70 to 80 mph winds across Ohio. This was Ike’s final blow as it lasted for 3 to 5 hours in Dayton, OH causing major damage without even one drop of rain during the wind storm. Ike ended up being blamed for 174 deaths with 82 killed in the United States.

So there you have it- my top weather picks of 2008, now we will see what 2009 brings.

I will have an update tomorrow on this warm up and the next storm.

Alex Pickman


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