11:15 AM | No "gloom and doom" around here - wildfires, drought, heat waves, tornadoes all down this year across the US and the on-going break from major hurricane strikes has been historic
Whether you’re talking about wildfires, drought, heat waves, tornadoes or hurricanes, weather-related disasters in the US are all down compared to recent years and if you have been in the “doom and gloom” forecast business then you must be quite disappointed.
To begin with, the actual number of wildfires across the US using year-to-date statistical comparisons (below) is currently the lowest it has been in the past ten years and the acreage involved is at the second lowest level in that same time period. The number of wildfires typically corresponds pretty well with heat and drought conditions and indeed the percentage of the contiguous US that is currently experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions is around 57% which is considerably lower than the 79% recorded at this same time one year ago. Also, the number of nationwide high temperature records for this year is far below last year with 17,486 high max or high min temperature records as compared with nearly 50,000 at this same point one year ago.
In addition, barring a very surprising and abnormally active fall season, the number of tornado reports this year is on a pace quite likely well below those reported in all years going back to 2000 (below). Finally, as far as hurricanes are concerned, even though there has not been a hurricane yet this season, it is way too early to make any conclusions about this year’s Atlantic tropical season as the climatologically active time period is really just beginning (mid-August through September). It is noteworthy, however, to point out there has that there has not been a major hurricane strike (ie category 3, 4 or 5) in the US since October 2005 when Hurricane Wilma struck during that particular very active tropical season. In fact, this is the longest stretch without a major hurricane strike in the US since the Civil War - let’s hope that trend continues. By the way, just as a point of comparison, in 1954 the US was hit by 3 major hurricanes in less than 10 weeks.
Wildfires 2013 (1/1/13 - 8/9/13) Fires: 29,421 Acres: 2,587,916 2012 (1/1/12 - 8/9/12) Fires: 39,097 Acres: 4,938,791 2011 (1/1/11 - 8/9/11) Fires: 47,187 Acres: 6,320,510 2010 (1/1/10 - 8/9/10) Fires: 41,447 Acres: 2,153,282 2009 (1/1/09 - 8/9/09) Fires: 59,822 Acres: 4,928,612 2008 (1/1/08 - 8/9/08) Fires: 56,751 Acres: 3,985,545 2007 (1/1/07 - 8/9/07) Fires: 58,866 Acres: 5,460,184 2006 (1/1/06 - 8/9/06) Fires: 73,661 Acres: 5,954,944 2005 (1/1/05 - 8/9/05) Fires: 40,661 Acres: 5,248,877 2004 (1/1/03 - 8/9/04) Fires: 50,555 Acres: 5,606,786 Source: National Interagency Fire Center, http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm
Tornadoes 2013 712 (through Aug 9th) 2012 1119 2011 1894 2010 1543 2009 1305 2008 1685 2007 1102 2006 1117 2005 1262 2004 1820 2003 1374 2002 938 2001 1219 2000 1072 Source: NOAA, http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/online/monthly/newm.html
Drought information source: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_tables.htm?conus
Heat wave information source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records/