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National Precipitation 2007

Precipitation in the United States during the first 11 months of 2007 was variable throughout much of the country with periods of excessive rainfall, especially across the central third of the U.S., and persistent and developing drought in the southeastern quarter of the country and the far western states. Winter was relatively wet in the South and North Central regions and relatively dry in the West and Southeast. In the spring, it was the driest March-May on record in the Southeast. The West was ranked 6th driest and the West North Central region had its 3rd wettest spring on record. In summer, the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin brought excessive rain to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, giving the South its wettest summer on record. Meanwhile, much of the Southeast continued to suffer in drought with its 11th driest summer on record, following the driest spring. Precipitation across the U.S. during the fall ranked 37th driest, although no regions ranked much above or much below normal.

For the contiguous U.S. as a whole, seven of the first eleven months of the year were drier than average. Combined with unusually warm temperatures in the Southeast, this exacerbated drought across much of the southeastern quadrant of the country. By August, over 40% of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate to extreme drought, as reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Increased October precipitation helped decrease this percentage to near 30% by the end of November. Nationally, year-to-date precipitation through the end of November was below the long-term mean, ranking as the 33rd driest year on record.

Severe Storms

According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, preliminary estimates indicate that there have been nearly 1300 reported tornadoes from January- November 2007, which is slightly above the ten-year average and well above the 30-year average. Note that these numbers represent preliminary tornado reports and not the number of total tornadoes.

Spring in the central and southern parts of the country was punctuated by several severe weather outbreaks producing over 600 reported tornadoes and leading to nearly 50 deaths during March through May 2007. The first large tornado outbreak occurred on February 24, when 21 tornadoes were reported, mostly in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The next outbreak less than a week later, when over 70 tornadoes were reported across the Gulf Coast region, Missouri, Illinois and South Carolina on March 1. Later that month, 80 reported tornadoes occurred across the western Great Plains from Texas to Nebraska on the 28th. The next large outbreak occurred on May 5, when 111 tornadoes were reported from the Texas panhandle through Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

The most devastating tornado of 2007 was the EF5 tornado that hit Greensburg, Kansas shortly before 10 pm CDT on the night of Friday, May 4, 2007. The tornado, given the rating of five on the Enhanced Fujita scale, was the first to receive the EF5 classification and the first tornado to earn a 5-rating since the May 3, 1999 Moore/ Oklahoma City, OK tornado. At least ten fatalities were reported from this devastating storm, which damaged or destroyed an estimated 95% of the town of Greensburg. The tornado was on the ground for 22 miles (35.4 km) and had a maximum path width of 1.7 miles (2.7 km), moving north-northeast until it turned northward upon reaching Greensburg and later curved back to the west. Despite the tornado's strength, the 32-minute warning lead time given by the Dodge City NWS office and the quick reaction of the people of Greensburg kept the number of fatalities in the town of over 1600 persons down to a minimum.

(Information curtsey NOAA/NWS)


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2007 Annual Climate Review

U.S. Temperature
The preliminary annual average temperature for 2007 across the contiguous United States will likely be near 54.3°F, 1.5°F (0.8°C) above the twentieth century mean of 52.8°F. This currently establishes 2007 as the eight warmest on record. Only February and April were cooler-than-average, while March and August were second warmest in the 113-year record.

The warmer-than-average conditions in 2007 influenced residential energy demand in opposing ways, as measured by the nation's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index. Using this index, NOAA scientists determined that the U.S. residential energy demand was approximately three percent less during the winter and eight percent higher during the summer than what would have occurred under average climate conditions.
Exceptional warmth in late March was followed by a record cold outbreak from the central Plains to the Southeast in early April. The combination of premature growth from the March warmth and the record-breaking freeze behind it caused more than an estimated $1 billion in losses to agricultural and horticultural crops.

A severe heat wave affected large parts of the central and southeastern U.S. in August, setting more than 2,500 new daily record highs.

Global Temperatures
The global annual temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces for 2007 is expected to be near 58.0°F and would be the fifth warmest since records began in 1880. Some of the largest and most widespread warm anomalies occurred from eastern Europe to central Asia.

Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997. The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6°C and 0.7°C since the start of the twentieth century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend.

The greatest warming has taken place in high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Anomalous warmth in 2007 contributed to the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979, surpassing the previous record low set in 2005 by a remarkable 23 percent. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this is part of a continuing trend in end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent reductions of approximately 10 percent per decade since 1979.

U.S. Precipitation and Drought Highlights
Severe to exceptional drought affected the Southeast and western U.S. More than three-quarters of the Southeast was in drought from mid-summer into December. Increased evaporation from anomalously warm temperatures, combined with a lack of precipitation, exacerbated drought conditions. Drought conditions also affected large parts of the Upper Midwest and areas of the Northeast.

Water conservation measures and drought disasters, or states of emergency, were declared by governors in five southeastern states, along with California, Oregon, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware at some point during the year.

A series of storms brought flooding, millions of dollars in damages and loss of life from Texas to Kansas and Missouri in June and July. Making matters worse were the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin, which produced heavy rainfall in the same region in August.

Drought and unusual warmth contributed to another extremely active wildfire season. Approximately nine million acres burned through early December, most of it in the contiguous U.S., according to preliminary estimates by the National Interagency Fire Center.

There were 15 named storms in the Atlantic Basin in 2007, four more than the long-term average. Six storms developed into hurricanes, including Hurricanes Dean and Felix, two category 5 storms that struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and Nicaragua, respectively (the first recorded occurrence of two category 5 landfalls in the Atlantic Basin in the same year). No major hurricanes made landfall in the U.S., but three tropical depressions, one tropical storm and one Category 1 Hurricane made landfall along the Southeast and Gulf coasts.

La Niña conditions developed during the latter half of 2007, and by the end of November, sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific were more than 3.6°F (2°C) below average. This La Niña event is likely to persist into early 2008, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. 

(Information curtsey NOAA/NWS)

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