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Droughts and Heat Waves



1930s
Many states: longest drought of the 20th century. Peak periods were 1930, 1934, 1936, 1939, and 1940. During 1934, dry regions stretched solidly from N.Y. and Pa. across the Great Plains to the Calif. coast. A great “dust bowl” covered some 50 million acres in the south-central plains during the winter of 1935–1936.
1955
Aug. 31–Sept. 7, Los Angeles: 8-day run of 100°-plus heat left 946 people dead.
1972
July 14–26, New York City: 891 people died in 14-day heat wave.
1980
June–Sept., central and eastern U.S.: an estimated 10,000 people were killed during the summer in a long heat wave and drought. Damages totaled about $20 billion.
1982–1983
worldwide: El Niño caused wildly unusual weather in the U.S. and elsewhere throughout 1983. Drought in the western Pacific region led to disastrous forest fires in Indonesia and Australia. Overall loss to world economy was over $8 billion. Similar event in 1997–1998 resulted in estimated loss of $25–$33 billion.
1988
Summer, central and eastern U.S.: a severe drought and heat wave killed an estimated 5,000–10,000 people, including heat stress-related deaths. Damages reached $40 billion.
1995
July 12–17, Chicago: 739 people died in record heat wave.
1996
Fall 1995–summer 1996, Tex. and Okla.: severe drought in southern plains region caused $4 billion in agricultural losses; no deaths.
1998
Summer, southern U.S.: severe heat and drought spread across Tex. and Okla., all the way to N.C. and S.C, killing at least 200. Estimated damages of $6–$9 billion.
1999
Summer, eastern U.S.: rainfall shortages resulted in worst drought on record for Md., Del., N.J., and R.I. The state of W.Va. was declared a disaster area. 3.81 million acres were consumed by fire as of mid-Aug. Record heat throughout the country resulted in 502 deaths nationwide.
2000
Spring–summer, southern U.S.: severe drought and heat killed an estimated 140 people. Damages were estimated at $4 billion.
2003
May–June, southern India: a monthlong intense heat wave claimed more than 1,500 lives.
Aug., Europe: drought conditions and a heat wave, one of the worst in 150 years, broke temperature records from London to Portugal, fueled forest fires, ruined crops, and caused thousands of deaths. (French fatalities estimated at more than 14,000.)
2006
July 16–25, California: a two-week heat wave killed at least 140 people.
2007
August, southeastern U.S.: more than 50 deaths and innumerable cases of heat-related illneses have been attributed to the excessive heat. Drinking water sources, such as Atlanta's Lake Lanier, have also been severely depleted.

2008
June 4, California: With reservoir levels well below average and the state experiencing its driest spring in 88 years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger officially declares that California is in a drought and warns of potential rationing. It is the first such declaration in 17 years.
2012
Spring, several states: A national drought begins in the spring of 2012 due to the lack of snow the U.S. received during the previous winter. The drought causes 123 deaths and over $40 billion in damages.

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