Flooding, Wildfires & Fall-like

Recently a news headline asked "When Will the Destructive Weather End?".  Certainly this year has featured a broad spectrum of severe weather.  From the blizzards in the Mid-Atlantic & Northeast this past winter, to the typical outbreaks of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the spring and summer months in the Plains, to impacts from tropical storms and hurricanes that have thus far been isolated to a few corners of the Gulf Coast and Outer Banks of the Carolinas, wild weather always manages to catch folks attention.

Of course the extremes have been interesting when it comes to the copious rainfall, widespread warm/hot weather and severe storms this summer.  The Mid-Atlantic has been broiling for much of the summer, including my hometown of Philadelphia which tied the record for most 90 degrees days since 1991 at 53.  Iowa was inundated with constant storms that lead to widespread flooding in June and July and as you know here in Wisconsin, we certainly had our fair share of that wet weather.  Minnesota meantime had numerous outbreaks of severe weather, including tornadoes.  Up through the middle of August, Minnesota had 122 tornado reports in 2010.  This is the highest in the country, with Texas (87), Kansas (80), and Oklahoma (70) quite a bit behind.  However as recently mentioned by the NWS in the Twin Cities, these twister sightings are still in the process of being confirmed and odds are the final tally is going to be likely lower than 100.  No less, this year for our neighbors to the west is going to likely go down as a record year for twisters.  If you are wondering, through Sept 9th, Wisconsin has had the 3rd most tornadoes on record, currently sitting at 40.  You have to go back to 5 years ago when the most tornadoes impacted the Badger State, that being 63.

Meantime Tropical Storm Hermine and its remains dumped rain on south & central Texas with anywhere from 6-12 inches causing widespread flooding, while local rivers/streams busted their banks.  This type of weather does come with the territory in the Gulf Coast & southeastern states as any tropical storm or hurricane could come their way.  As mentioned previously, we are currently in the peak time for tropical activity in the Atlantic Basin, and considering 6 named storms have formed in the past 3 weeks proves that point.  Igor is the latest to be churning through the eastern Atlantic, with its sights set on approaching the Lesser Antilles sometime next week.

Wildfires have also been ongoing in parts of North America.  For much of the summer, smoke from blazes in Saskatchewan have wondered into the western Great Lakes from time to time, including a faint scent of some of the burnt timber in the air.  Back in the U.S., Boulder, Colorado has been dealing with wildfires as of late, but there have been flare ups of wildfires in OK, CA, ID, UT, WY, NJ, PA and likely in the next couple of months some wildfires will manage to expand in California.  Once again the west coast seems to be the prime target from year to year for these out of control fires to form, primarily because rain eludes a good part of this region during the summer months.  Check out this link to the National Fire Interagency Fire Center for more on this wildfire season and comparisons to years past.  A couple notable stats for 2010 include the lowest number of wildfires in 5 years and the least number of acres being burned to this point in the year since 2003.

So to answer the question from the onset, odds are there will be more destructive weather in the weeks, months and years ahead.  There could still be a hurricane that makes landfall before the end of October, additional rounds of severe weather that spawn tornadoes, and wildfires that make headlines heading through the first half of fall.  The weather is always changing and sometimes it does so in volatile ways.  For us in the Wisconsin River Valley, the switch to autumn weather seemed to coincide with flipping the calendar to September.  With the first autumn colors report being issued this week, our attention will turn to those forthcoming brilliant colors and having to pull out the rake.

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