Global Hazards - Summer 1998


Please note: Material provided in this report is chosen subjectively and included at the discretion of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The ability to report on a given event is limited by the amount of information available to NCDC at the time of publication. Inclusion of a particular event does not constitute a greater importance in comparison with an event that has not been incorporated into the discussion. Data included in this report are preliminary unless otherwise stated. Links to supporting information are valid at the time of publication, but they are not maintained or changed after publication.


Crop Moisture

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Top of Page Summer Weather Impacts

Flooding: NOAA's National Hydrologic Information Center reports 65 flood-related fatalities for January through July, 1998. Fourteen of these occurred in June in the midwest and northeast as a result of heavy rains there, with fatalities reported in Kentucky, Indiana, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Ohio, and West Virginia. Also, the following states were designated to receive federal disaster assistance during June and July: Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia. A number of counties in each state were severely affected by flooding. Examples of the heavy rains include Blue Hill, MA with 17.32 inches in June to set a record for the month, and Marion, IN with 6 inches of rain in 6 hours in early August. Tropical Storm Charley struck southern Texas in late August with flooding rains, resulting in at least 20 deaths in Texas and Mexico. Del Rio recorded its wettest day ever on August 23, with 17.03 inches of rain from Charley's remnants.

Drought/Heat Wave: Drought and extreme heat affected an expanding area of the south this summer, from Texas and Oklahoma eastward to the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. In agricultural losses (crops, cattle, etc), Texas now estimates over $1.7 billion in losses, Oklahoma about $2.0 billion, Florida about $175 million, Georgia over $400 million, while other states are still counting the damages. Overall economic costs will probably be 2-3 times the agricultural losses. Also, at least 187 heat-related deaths occurred nationwide. Some of the more notable records established this summer:

- Driest and warmest April-July period on record for Texas, with mean temperature of 77.7 F (ties with 1925) and mean precipitation of 4.46 inches.
- Warmest July and warmest month on record for Del Rio, Shreveport, Austin, and San Antonio.
- Total number of days with maximum temperature 100 F or higher for San Antonio (36 days) and Del Rio (69 days).
- Total number of days with minimum temperature 80 F or higher--Dallas-Fort Worth (38 days).
- Driest May-July period for Brownsville with .30 inches of rain.
- Houston--5.79 inches of rain for April-July (normal is 17.01).
- College Station--2.00 inches of rain for April-July (normal is 14.15).

Florida Fires: Fires began burning out of control in Florida on Memorial Day weekend, and scorched over 485,000 acres during May-July, with more than half being commercial timberland. Most of the fires were in an area bounded by Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Orlando. The timber losses amounted to approximately $300 million, and at least 324 homes were damaged or destroyed. Firefighting costs were over $100 million. Over 120,000 residents were forced to evacuate for a day or more, including all of Flagler County. Fortunately, no fire-related deaths were reported. During July and August, the normal summer rains arrived with afternoon thunderstorms, ending the fire threat.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Hazards for Summer 1998, published online September 1998, retrieved on October 25, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/hazards/1998/16.