Full video below.
2016 began with a huge January Winter storm dumping record snows across a dozen states from the north to the south. From al all time record of 66 inches in Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina, to just short of 28 inches in Queens, New York, blizzard conditions swept over millions of American with more than 30 inches of snow recorded in 7 states, costing up to 3 billion dollars in some estimates and sadly taking 55 lives, 12 in Virginia, alone.
February, brought a terrible , unusual early year tornado outbreak. On the 23rd and 24th, what became the 2nd largest February outbreak on record spawned 61 confirmed tornadoes, put nearly 90,000 people in the dark and left seven people dead in its wake.
While March brought several large hail events, April’s claim to bad fame came from apocalyptic hail storms in Texas. From damaging golf ball to dangerous grapefruits, the sizes and quantities of hail were frightening and devastating.
Then Summer saw more records breaking, the kind you don’t want broken, flood records. In June, West Virginia got nearly 10 inches of rain in just 12 hours, causing flooding that tied the 7th worst in state history.
July followed with Maryland’s Ellicott City flood that laid waste to much of the city’s historic district.
Then, in August, Louisiana was inundated by the worst river flooding in state history. Upwards of two and a half feet of rain fell in just a few days and along the Amite river, East of Baton Rouge, previous record levels were topped by nearly five feet, as 80 thousand houses went under water and around 30,000 people were rescued from their homes by first responders, the National Guard and the always tenacious Cajun Navy. As Louisianan’s continues to rebuild, they’re left a sad loss of 13 lives and a nearly 15 billion dollar price tag on the damage.
The year’s hurricane season finally brought an end to the landfall drought, with Hermine being the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in nearly 11 years. After striking Florida as a Category 1 Hurricane, and killing a man there, Hermine exited the east coast in North Carolina, then threatened the Northeast, while closing beaches on the Labor Day weekend, before dissipating after lingering off the coast for days.
Then Matthew became the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin since 2007. During the storm’s trek through the Caribbean, it was responsible for taking more than 1600 lives, by some estimates, most of those in Haiti and is blamed for 49 lives lost in the United States, most from freshwater drowning.
The storm caused record flooding in several states, in some cases, again topping previous river crest records by many feet. In the U.S. alone the economic impact was between 5.5 and 7.5 billion dollars.
From coast to coast, 2016 was another bad year for wildfires and as the year came to a close, the biggest and saddest news making blaze was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee at the end of November. Started by two teenagers and driven by hurricane force winds, this fire tore though the scenic Smoky Mountain area, burning 18,000 acres, damaging or destroying more than 2000 structures and worst of all taking 14 lives.
And then, on the weather forecast improving front, we got two big year-end gifts from NOAA and NASA, the first was GOES-R, now on orbit as GOES-16 with an awesome array of new tools to give us near-realtime super high res imagery to see the western hemisphere’s developing severe and tropical weather systems, we’ll also get incredible lightning detection, space weather sensing, and lots more, too.
AND we now also have eight little satellites flying in formation, like a year-round squadron of hurricane hunters. CYGNSS will give us a brand new hurricane intensity forecasting tool that will make us safer than ever from landfalling hurricanes and tropical storms.
As we ring in the New Year, it’s always our wish that you stay weather aware, be prepared and heed all warnings to be safer.