2010 Weather Year in Review

State College, Pa. — 3 January 2011 — As we say goodbye to 2010, AccuWeather.com takes a look at the unusual and extreme weather events that hit the United States over the past year.

Worldwide, 295,000 people were killed in natural disasters in 2010, according to Munich Re, the world’s top reinsurer. This includes massive flooding in Pakistan and the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Following heavy snowfall in December and an early winter blast in October, the new year brought a lot of the same, and then some.

January ended with a sizable winter storm that spanned nearly the entire country and dropped widespread snow from the Southwest to the Northeast, closing several major interstates in the process.

In addition to the snow, January and February also brought frigid air to the country, even reaching into the Deep South.

Cities in Florida consistently recorded temperatures near freezing. Miami Airport recorded a low temperature of 35 degrees on Jan. 10, and the average temperature that day was 26 degrees below normal.

This winter chill stunted crops in the South, especially strawberries. The delay of the strawberry ripening in Florida caused the crop to hit the market at the same time as California’s crop, leading to significantly lower prices nationwide.

February was quite a month for winter weather. On Feb. 13, all 48 contiguous states had snow on the ground.

Snow events on Feb. 5-6 and Feb. 9-10 blanketed the country with snow. On Feb. 12, Dallas, Texas, recorded 11.2 inches of snow, shattering the previous record of 7.8 inches set on Jan. 15-16, 1964. The city also recorded its snowiest winter on record.

A Feb. 26 nor’easter slammed the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest with heavy snow, rain and intense hurricane-force winds, leading AccuWeather.com to dub this extra-tropical cyclone a Snowicane.

This monster storm caused storm surge, widespread power outages and broke snowfall records throughout the Northeast.

In March, a set of nor’easters wreaked havoc on the Atlantic Seaboard, an area already hard hit with snowstorms during the winter. On March 13, the first storm slammed the East Coast and left hundreds of thousands without power. Up to 10 inches of rain was reported in parts of New England and New Jersey.

The second storm hit two weeks later, when another nor’easter dumped more rain on the Northeast. This second rain event caused severe flooding in Rhode Island and helped to break many monthly rain records, including those at Portland, Maine, Boston and LaGuardia Airport.

Following this flood event, an Easter weekend heat wave hit the Northeast. Temperatures went past the 90-degree mark across New England. Logan Airport recorded 90 degrees on Apr. 7, not only a daily high temperature record, but also the earliest date that a 90-degree day has been recorded there.

Towards the end of May, a high pressure system over the eastern half of the United States and Canada sent temperatures soaring again. From March 23-26, the heat shifted eastward, affecting states from the Upper Midwest to New England in the process. High temperature records were broken across the Midwest, New England and mid-Atlantic.

Tornado Season
From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, there were a total of 1,523 tornadoes reported in the United States, 1,198 of which have been confirmed. There were 13 confirmed EF4 and 31 confirmed EF3 tornadoes. Forty-three tornado fatalities occurred in the United States in 2010.

There were several severe tornado outbreaks this year. A severe outbreak took place from April 22-24 and spanned from Colorado through the Plains and as far east as Tennessee. A total of 136 tornadoes were reported. The strongest tornado of the outbreak was an EF4 that began near Tallulah, La., and spanned about 150 miles east into Mississippi, killing 10 people.

Tallulah was hit again by an EF2 on Nov. 29. On Dec. 11, the city was threatened by a tornado warning and tree damage.

More tornado outbreaks occurred in May, June, October and December.

Hurricane Season
The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season was both active and unusual, while the 2010 Eastern North Pacific season was inactive and unusual.

The summer of 2010 will go down in history as one of the hottest on record for the Northeast and South.

June had several severe flood events across the southern Plains states. South-central Texas had a flood event on June 8-9. This storm dumped up to a foot of rain in less than a day. After hitting Texas, the storm moved into Arkansas. Overnight on June 11, a flash flood killed 20 people at a campsite in the Ouachita National Forest.

Three days later, the worst flooding in 25 years hit central Oklahoma as a storm system brought record-breaking rain totals to the area, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency.

The eastern U.S. and Canada were hit with yet another weather event over the Independence Day weekend as another intense heat wave hit. Temperatures broke the 100-degree mark in many places, and records were broken from the Carolinas to Ontario.

A storm over the Dakotas on July 23 dropped a massive hailstone near the town of Vivian, S.D. despite some melting. this hailstone shattered both the size and weight records in the U.S. The stone weighed in at about 1.9 pounds and was 8 inches in diameter and 18.5 inches in circumference.

On Sept. 16, a macroburst, or an intense thunderstorm accompanied by downdrafts, hit portions of New York City and caused two tornadoes to touch down in Brooklyn and Queens. Winds reached 125 mph, and power was knocked out for thousands.

On Sept. 27, downtown Los Angeles recorded its hottest day ever on record. Temperatures soared to 113 degrees, breaking the old record of 112 degrees set June 26, 1990.

On Oct. 5 and 6, severe storms hit portions of the western U.S., breaking rainfall records in Reno, Nev., dropping baseball sized hail to Phoenix and causing a tornado outbreak in northern Arizona.

An extratropical storm hit much of the eastern United States on Oct. 26 and 27. Severe thunderstorms rolled across the Southeast while snow was dumped on portions of the Dakotas. This storm also caused a tornado outbreak resulting in 75 preliminary tornado reports and hundreds of reports of winds of 75 mph or more.

Following several days of record-breaking heat, the Midwest was hit by a winter storm system on Nov. 13, dumping up to a foot of snow and causing a travel nightmare.

Another pre-Thanksgiving snow event hit the Pacific Northwest starting Nov. 22, bringing uncommon and record-breaking snow to Seattle. This storm was following by a temperature plunge that shattered daily lows in several Northwest states.

A pattern change cued bitterly cold air to invade much of the eastern half of the country at the beginning of December and lasted through most of the month. The December chill also affected the South, where the record-breaking freezing temperatures threatened Florida crops.

AccuWeather.com Expert Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi predicted a white Christmas for 50 percent of the contiguous United States, a percentage that was met and exceeded.

A monster storm dumped snow on the Plains, Midwest and Northeast during the weekend of Dec. 11-12. The Upper Midwest got the brunt of this storm, with a foot or more falling in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Teflon roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis collapsed under the weight of the snow, forcing the Vikings and Giants to play Monday night in Detroit.

Following this storm, the lee of the Great Lakes experienced a tremendous lake-effect snow event.

Another snowstorm hit New England in the days leading up to Christmas, but this was minor compared to the blizzard that hit the Eastern Seaboard the day after Christmas.

The blizzard began as a flooding rainstorm on the West Coast. Inches of rain fell on Southern California, while feet of snow fell on the Sierra Nevada.

Days later, this storm made its way across the country and up the East Coast, dumping snow from Georgia to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. New Jersey, New York City and New England suffered the worst of this storm, and the snow caused a post-holiday travel nightmare.

By Gina Cherundolo, writer for AccuWeather.com

Updated 01-03-2011

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