Table Summarizing Climate & Human Events During the 20th Century
As we see in Climate History, the past 100 years have experienced dramatic climate events.
Human Population (estimated in billions)
Major Climate Events & Human Impacts
For more see NCDC's
Billion Dollar Disasters
Globally averaged as the warmest decade in the past 140 years, with 1998 being the warmest year on record.
1992- Hurricane Andrew causes $25 billion in damages.
1993- Great Midwest Flood along the Mississippi and its tributaries caused $18B in damages. Considered to be greater than a 500 year flood event.
1997-98- El Niño causes $25-33 billion in damages
Image from FEMA
Globally averaged second warmest decade in the past 140 years.
1982-1983 El Niño severely impacts fishing industry in Ecuador and Peru, disrupting weather throughout the Pacific Basin. Estimated $21 billion in damages in 1997.
Beginning ~30 year positivie trend in the NAO/AO (North Atlantic Oscillation/Arctic Oscillation) that strongly contributed to winter/spring warming over northwestern Europe.
1971- Flooding in Vietnam kills 100,000.
1972- Blizzard in Iran leaves 4000 dead.
1977- The "North Pacific" climatic regime shift making the end of a ~30 year cool phase of the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) and the beginning of ~21 year warm phase of the PDO; extensive drought conditions in the western U.S.
1978- New England Blizzard dumps up to 38 inches of snow in Boston area.
1969- Hurricane Camille slams into Mississippi at nearly 200 mph with storm tides of 25 feet. Heavy rains and flooding followed, with 28 inches of rain in central Virginia.
Nov. 1950- Severe storm event produces blizzard and severe winds in 22 states.
Dec. 1952- Great Smog of London directly kills 4000, with 4000 additional deaths from related causes. Also see NPR story on the Killer Fog of '52.
Jan.-Feb. 1953- Storm surges in Europe cause nearly 2000 deaths.
Sept. 1958- Typhoon Vera hits Japan, killing nearly 5,000, leaving 1.5 million homeless.
Droughts in mid-1950s in western US motivate intense period of dam-building for water storage and delivery. Image from NOAA Photo Library.
Global cooling occurs between mid-1940s and early 1970s.
1941-1942- Chinese Drought causes 3 million to perish due to starvation.
1930s- Dust Bowl drought impacts 100 million acres of Great Plains.
1931- Flooding along Yangtze River, impacting millions of Chinese.
1935- Florida Keys Hurricanefirst of two Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in U.S. during 20th Century.
1938- New England Hurricane rips through southern New England. Image from NOAA Photo Library
1922- Colorado River Compact signed allocating water of the Colorado River Basin to states in the basin and Mexico; estimates of flows based on data from the wet period prior to the signing of the compact.
1925- Tri-State Tornado claims 695 lives during 3.5 hours, leaving 219-long track through Ohio Valley.
1928- Great Okeechobee Flood and Hurricane kills up to 3,500.
1917-1920- First case of Spanish Influenza pandemic occurs during winter flu season in March of 1918 when the first case was reported at Fort Riley, Kansas. By October, 195,000 dead in U.S. and by 1920, some 20 million dead worldwide. (Gross-Schulman, 1998 )
Sept. 1900- Hurricane hits Galveston, Texas with surge wave and resulting floods killing over 8000. (see "Special Report on the Galveston Hurricane of September 8, 1900" by Isaac M. Cline from NOAA).
1907- Famine in China caused 24 million to die of starvation.
Image of aftermath of Galveston, TX from NOAA.
Also see: What is Variability? and Overview of Climate Processes.
All images from NOAA and FEMA.