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The world's weather went wild in 2010!

| December 27, 2010 8:00 PM

It was announced this past week that more people were killed by natural disasters in 2010 than have been killed by terrorist attacks in the past 40 years combined. One might say that Mother Nature is the 'ULTIMATE TERRORIST.'

The deadly rampage of nature included earthquakes, record heat, record cold, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, super typhoons, killer tornadoes, hail the 'size of cantaloupes' in places, blizzards, floods of Biblical proportions, droughts, landslides, mudslides and tidal waves that killed at least a quarter million people in 2010.

My long-predicted "CYCLE OF WIDE WEATHER EXTREMES" is here, folks, in spades! Things will only get worse, weatherwise and otherwise, if I'm right in my assumptions.

This year began with 'Snowmageddon' in the northeastern U.S. and much of Europe. Record snows buried cities along the East Coast from Boston to Norfolk, Va. Even Paris, France, saw snow.

In the southeastern U.S., January produced a series of freezes in Florida that destroyed citrus and vegetable crops. Cold-blooded iguanas became 'comatose' and fell out of the trees.

Then came the disastrous January earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 220,000 people, mostly due to poor construction. Many are still dying of disease and malnutrition. More than a million Haitians are still homeless.

In February, an earthquake that was more than 500 times stronger than the one which struck Haiti in January, hit a less populated, but better constructed, region in Chile. Less than 1,000 people died in Chile thanks to foresight.

Next, a volcano erupted in Iceland paralyzing air traffic for days on end in Europe. More than 7 million people had disrupted travel plans.

Other volcanic eruptions killed residents in the Congo, Guatemala, Ecuador, the Philippines and Indonesia, where many died this past October following a monster 7.7 earthquake. Nearly 400,000 people were forced to flee.

Elsewhere, parts of southwestern Australia had their driest year on record in 2010. By extreme contrast, the wettest spring on record, which just ended this past week, severely reduced eastern Australia's wheat yields. Sugarcane and other crops were likewise damaged.

In May, one city in central Pakistan soared to 129 degrees, the hottest temperature ever recorded in that country. This heatwave was soon broken by one of the worst floods in the nation's history. Nearly 20,000 people died. The huge flood inundated 62,000 square miles, about the size of the state of Wisconsin.

Again, by extreme contrast, an all-time record drought and heatwave baked much of Russia in August. The smog in Moscow forced people to wear masks. Wildfires raged over millions of acres. The losses in spring wheat prompted the Russians to suspend all foreign grain exports.

In September, Los Angeles had its hottest day ever at 113 degrees on the 27th. Ironically, this record heatwave followed directly on the heels of a much cooler summer season than usual in L.A. and much of the rest of California and other parts of the Far West.

I should mention that a two-pound hailstone fell this last July in South Dakota. It measured 8 inches in diameter and set a new U.S. record, beating the previous record of 7 inches in diameter measured in Coffeyville, Kan., on Sept. 3, 1970.

The month of November 2010 was the snowiest such period on record in the Inland Northwest at Spokane, Coeur d'Alene and other cities in the region. Record subzero temperatures killed winter wheat in parts of Oregon and Washington, where severe flooding occurred as well in early December.

The last half of December in parts of flooded Southern California will be the wettest ever recorded, thanks to a violent collision of warm, moist Pacific air with the 'La Nina'-enhanced Maritime Polar Jet Stream that pushed much farther to the south than usual from the Gulf of Alaska. By late Wednesday, Los Angeles received 7 inches of rain with 2 feet of rain in the nearby mountains. (Imagine if that fell as snow!)

Elsewhere, in recent days, much of Europe and the United Kingdom have endured a chaotic pre-Christmas holiday season due to record snows that have grounded thousands of flights leaving an estimated 7,000 people stranded in at least 6 countries.

This is the fourth winter in a row since 2007 with record snows and bitterly cold temperatures in the U.K., France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. The city of Edinburgh, Scotland, broke its all-time December snowfall record this past week with an incredible 39.7 inches gauged by noon on Dec. 23 with more of the white stuff expected during the final week of the month.

One local resident trapped for days in his home near Edinburgh exclaimed, "if this is 'global warming,' what am I going to do if we see a new 'Little Ice Age'? It will kill me!"

Next week in 'Gems,' I will feature a complete month-by-month review of our local North Idaho weather during 2010. Once again, it was another year of WIDE WEATHER 'EXTREMES' to say the least.

Happy New Year!

NORTH IDAHO WEATHER REVIEW AND LONG-RANGE OUTLOOKS

Following some light overnight snows, as of this writing noon on Thursday, I had three inches of the white stuff in my backyard with 36 hours left until Christmas morning.

Even if half of the snow melted on Friday with afternoon highs expected to be in the upper 30s, we will still have had our required one inch or more on the ground early Saturday, barely qualifying Coeur d'Alene for its 80th White Christmas since 1895, the inception of local daily weather statistics.

We should begin to see a colder and snowier trend develop across the Inland Northwest, including North Idaho by later this week.

New Year's Eve promises to be chilly with midnight temperatures near 10 degrees. There will be about a 40 percent chance of snow flurries into New Year's Day.

Have a prosperous and healthy 2011.

Cliff Harris and Family.

Cliff Harris is a climatologist who writes a weekly column for The Press. His opinions are his own. E-mail sfharris@roadrunner.com

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