On June 23, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history forced more than 35,000 people to flee their homes, burned 346 houses, and killed two people. Drought patterns in the area and high heat stoked the fire, which wasn’t fully contained until July 10. Investigators concluded that the fire was human-caused, but still don’t know if it was an accident or intentional.
Photo: Getty Images
The most severe drought in the past 25 years had an impact on all sorts of crops and livestock and has consumers worried that food prices would rise as a result. The Washington Post reported last month that a report signed by 138 scientists and researchers from 27 Iowa colleges and universities stated that, “This year’s drought is consistent with predictions that global climate change would bring about weather extremes including more frequent droughts.”
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The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, estimated to be $60 billion, is second only to New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina in terms of magnitude and cost. A storm surge of almost 14 feet submerged New York City’s Financial District and closed the Stock Exchange for two consecutive days—the first time that had happened due to weather since 1888—and inflicted the worst damage in the 108-year history of the city’s subway system. Sandy also destroyed coastal communities in the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S.
Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images
Floods in Brazil
In early January, heavy rains lead to floods, landslides, and a burst levee in southeastern Brazil. About 13,000 people had to flee their homes and more than 60 towns and cities declared a state of emergency.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Europe’s Bad Winter
While the U.S. had one of the warmest winters on record, Europe suffered through a debilitating cold snap that was accompanied by heavy snowfall. Time reported that, “Poland, Serbia, Romania, the Ukraine and other central and eastern European nations have been [the] most brutally battered by a Siberian cold front that reached from Russia all the way to the U.K. It’s the worst winter onslaught the continent has seen since the mid-1980s.”
Photo: Radu Sigheti/Reuters
Rain Batters Beijing
More than six inches of rain fell in Beijing during a 16-hour period in July. CNN said that 77 people died in the downpour, which was the worst in 60 years. They added that, “Around 170,000 farm animals were killed when floodwater covered 5,000 hectares of farmland, causing economic losses of 6.1 billion yuan ($955 million)...Of the 66,000 homes that were damaged, more than 8,000 were demolished...About 50 bridges and around 750 kilometers (466 miles) of road also have been wrecked.”
Photo: Stringer China/Retuers
A month before Frankenstorm Sandy charged up the east coast of the U.S., super-Typhoon Jelawat became the third consecutive western Pacific cyclone to reach super-typhoon status in 2012. This was the first time since 1997 that the area had seen three consecutive super typhoons—defined as a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of at least 150 miles per hour.
Photo: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images
Floods in Rwanda
April is normally the peak of the rainy season in Rwanda, but AllAfrica said that a report by Rwanda's meteorological center indicated, “that since 1971 rain has become highly unpredictable mainly due to major changes in climate.” They also noted that Didace Musoni, a senior researcher at the Rwanda meteorological center, stated that, “temperature in Kigali [Rwanda’s capital] has risen by at least 0.6 degrees centigrade in the past decade,” and “He attributed this to dangerous human activities such as deforestation that has hurt the environment and contributed to global warming.”
Lawrence Karol is a writer and editor who lives with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet staffer and enjoys writing about design, food, travel and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence | TakePart.com