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The Five Most Memorable Weather Events of 2011

The Five Most Memorable Weather Events of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, here’s a look at the most extreme and unforgettable weather the U.S. has seen over the last 12 months:

1. Super Tornado Outbreak – April brought the worst tornado outbreak the country had seen since the infamous super outbreak of 1974. Over the course of three days, 353 tornadoes touched down in 21 states, ranging from from Texas to New York, including four F5 tornadoes (the most powerful classification). In total, 346 people were killed as a result of the outbreak, including 249 in Alabama alone, and there was an estimated $11 billion in damages.

2. The Joplin Tornado – Though May’s tornado outbreak was not quite as destructive as the one in April, one tornado in particular was the deadliest single tornado in the US since April 9, 1947. On Sunday, May 22, an F5 tornado touched don in the town of Joplin, Missouri. In less than one hour, the tornado reduced a full third of the town to rubble, killing 161 people. The storm also caused more than $2 billion in damage, making it the most expensive disaster in the state’s history.

3. Hurricane Irene – In late August, a tropical storm named Irene formed just southeast of the island of Hispaniola. The storm wound its way up the east coast of the United States, eventually becoming a category 3 hurricane. It first made landfall in the Carolinas before tearing its way north, leaving behind devastation throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England states. Many inland regions that are seldom affected by hurricanes saw extensive damage. Throughout its path, Irene caused at least 56 deaths and as much as $7 billion in damage.

4. The Mississippi Floods – A series of storms throughout the month of April combined with large amounts of snow melt to create one of the most damaging floods of the past century, comparable to the storied floods of 1927 and 1993. Six states – Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana – saw the worst of the flooding. The flood caused more than $5 billion worth of damage, and tens of thousands of people were displaced from their homes. In several locations, spillways were opened in an attempt to draw off some of the water. In rural Louisiana, the Morganza Spillway was opened, flooding 4,600 square miles in an attempt to save the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. President Obama declared many of the affected counties federal disaster areas.

5. Southern Drought – Starting in January, a severe drought took hold in the southern U.S., affecting Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Texas alone suffered record crop and livestock loss, with an estimated $5.2 billion losses. The 12-month period from August 2010 through July 2011 was the state’s driest year on record. In addition, the drought resulted in numerous wildfires throughout the region, which burned tens of thousands of acres of land and displaced thousands of people from their homes.

Honorable Mention: The Groundhog Day Blizzard – In the early days of February, a severe storm moved through much of the eastern half of the U.S., dumping as much as two feet of snow in some areas, and bringing winds in excess of 60 mph. A state of emergency was declared in several states, including Illinois, where the Chicago experienced one of the worst storms in its infamously stormy history. Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive had to be closed, stranding an estimated 900 vehicles, some for as long as 12 hours. The storm also resulted in 13,000 flight cancellations, and at least 24 deaths.

4 comments

1 Norma Rainey { 12.30.11 at 3:33 pm }

2 Julie Hanford-Rogers I live in Springfield, MO. I lost a friend and friends lost everything in the Joplin storm. We lost a beloved couple in the Hackleberry (Alabama) storm as well. If I had a wish for you in the New Year, it would be what I wish for all folks whose lives have been dismantled by a tornado: May you find Peace in what you have, may you always have what you need, and may you KNOW that there are thousands and thousands of common folk, just like me, who feel your pain and who love you.

2 downs { 12.29.11 at 2:50 pm }

The Southern draught that racked our part of the country this year was devastating to everything that lives in and calls this part of the USA home. October 2010 saw the last of the rains until November 2011. Yes we had a couple of days when it sprinkled, but with the ground like brick and the temps over 100 for 101 days a couple of sprinkles did nothing to al leviate the misery of what we went through. I realize to many who were living through Tornado and Hurricanes probably thought what a small thing, but at least with a storm it is here, it is gone and you can move on…this was a lingering torture that went on day after day after day with No relief in sight. The livestock with no pastures to graze and no water other than what could be provided by the owner. Wells going dry, No grain growing, no hay to put up most of us had to sell our herds down to only the stock we thought could make it. No income as no crops could survive the continuous heat and dry winds that every day brought. Then trying to bring in feed and hay from surrounding states brought price gouging. A round bale that would of cost $45.00 the previous year was now costing $200.00, And it was not only the actual hay but the added expense of hauling from many states away. Yet no sympathy was shown, not from others who had suffered through hardships and our great state of Oklahoma had helped in previous years nor help from the Government. We were and still are left to help ourselves and our neighbors as best we can with what little grain and hay and feed we can aquire. Most people do not understand that we are America’s bread basket. Your wheat is our primary crop, accompanied by the cotton your clothing is made of, and the peanuts that are in your candies, peanut butter and oils, the canola… the steak and hamburger and other beef products, All of America will suffer from this tragedy.
I have seen Joplin and even helped with the Tornado relief, it was a horrific tragedy, but so was ours. This Country needs to ask God to step back in and to place his protective loving arms around us once again, or we may all suffer horribly in the future.

3 Julie Hanford-Rogers { 12.28.11 at 1:46 pm }

I was born and raised in Joplin, MO. And live about 5 miles from where the May 22nd tornado touched down that dreadful day. It began as a day of celebration for many. Several schools in the area were holding their high school graduation ceremonies that afternoon. The were anticipating a family and friends get together, BBQ’s and parties. Many were preparing to attend their local church services. Or just chilling at home for the evening. Some were visiting relatives and friends in the hospital. And some were merely shopping. It quickly ended as a day of sorrow, pain, devastating loss and mourning for many many good people of Joplin, Missouri.
I don’t think there is a single person in the surrounding area that the effects of the tornado didn’t have an affect on. Either through lost of family, friends, work, homes or just a very sad emotional feeling as you drove through the still and silent ravaged side of town. After the sun set, no electricity just darkness. And seeing the pictures on the television, could not even begin to show the true destruction. The people frantically digging and searching for loved ones. The hours of waiting for family and friends to hear word from relatives, moms, dads, children, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins, friends, co-workers or just friendly neighbors. The posting on Facebook and other sites, pleading for information about family and friends. Since most phone services were gone, over crowded or the phones themselves were destroyed. Just to know if their loved ones were dead or alive.
There were thousands of wonderful, special, and giving volunteers that came from everywhere to help in any way they could. There isn’t enough words to express the appreciation that was felt when they all kept arriving. And the amount of work they did was unbelievable. Everywhere you looked groups were arriving… to help. Relief centers were opened immediately for donations to pass out to people who had lost everything, And to keep the volunteers supplied with necessities. The help and donations were amazing! The love that poured into the community from near and far was undescribeable. And Joplin is still thanking those people. It will take years and years to rebuild what was taken from the people that devastating day. And something that can never be replaced will be remembered for years to come. whether it be a small item, long forgotten, a memory of a precious place or the longing for what disappeared in an instant, never to be seen again. That day the people of Joplin, Missouri lost homes, vehicles, clothing, every single personal item they owned. Children lost cherished dolls, and favorite toys.Some people lost wonderful book collections, art and personal works that can never be replaced. Churches, businesses, several several schools, St. John’s Mercy Hospital (which in a matter of seconds was left standing as a demolished shell) doctor’s offices, and restrurants. The most achingly devastating loss is that of family and friends. Husband and wives, mothers and fathers, grandparents, sons and daughters. And the little children, oh dear, so many children. The families of all of these loved ones lost must feel such a terrible terrible loss at this time of the year. Monetary things can and eventually will be replaced. But the lives never can.
I realize that each and everyone of the disasters listed above was horrendous. But the disaster in Joplin, Missouri was such a large amount in such a tiny amount of time, in a small town in the Southwest corner of Missouri.
As you drive through the town now…… 6 months have passed. There are business reopening. There are homes being replaced and repaired. The public parks are being rebuilt. St John’s Mercy Hospital should receive business of the year. Through all, they have never stopped providing care for the people. Minutes after the tornado they were treating people on the parking lot and transfering them to other hospitals. Next was temporary places to treat the wounded. Soon after they worked from MASH like tents, next into their current modular type hospital. But through it all the dedicated workers, doctors, nurses and hospital administration has been there for the patients of Joplin, Missouri And they are all excited awaiting the building of their new hospital.
Lives will never be back to normal, but families have moved on and started anew. The devastation is still evident in the vastly empty neighborhoods. Empty lots where people were unable to rebuild, or couldn’t bring themselves to because of the horrible things they witnessed that day. Businesses that chose not to reopen. It still brings tears to my eyes and an ache in my heart as I pass through the area.
But Joplin, Missouri will recover. She won’t be the same. It will take years. But she will be new and improved.
This probably won’t be published, as it turned out to be a bit lengthy. But as what I started as a comment… continued to grow as the thoughts, memories and words poured out.

4 Char Mason { 12.27.11 at 12:34 am }

In Missouri, 2011 extreme weather began on New Year’s Eve December 31, 2010 when a tornado struck Sunset Hills and destroyed dozens of homes, but its effects lasted throughout the year. Miraculously, no one was killed. For many St. Louisans New Year’s Day was spent providing food, shelter and clothing for victims of that unique storm. By the time a tornado hit St. Louis International Airport and the surrounding area seeking shelter was a weekly routine but none of us were prepared for the destruction that hit Joplin. We are all hoping for a better year.

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