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Reality Check: Minimal Extreme Weather Events In The US This Year

SI Weather News

There have been many forecasts in the news in recent years predicting more and more extreme weather-related events in the US, but for 2013 that prediction has been way off the mark.

Whether you’re talking about tornadoes, wildfires, extreme heat or hurricanes, the good news is that weather-related disasters in the US are all way down this year compared to recent years and, in some cases, down to historically low levels.

To begin with, the number of tornadoes in the US this year is on pace to be the lowest total since 2000 and it may turn out to be the lowest total in several decades. The table below lists the number of tornadoes in the US for this year (through 10/17) and also for each year going back to 2000.
(Source: NOAA,

Year         # of Tornadoes
2013                    771
2012                   1119
2011                   1894
2010                   1543
2009                   1305
2008                   1685
2007                   1102
2006                   1117
2005                   1262
2004                   1820
2003                   1374
2002                    938
2001                   1219
2000                   1072

Second, the number of wildfires across the US so far this year is on pace to be the lowest it has been in the past ten years and the acreage involved is at the second lowest level in that same time period (table below).
(Source: National Interagency Fire Center;

2013            Fires: 40,306           Acres: 4,152,390
2012            Fires: 67,774           Acres: 9,326,238
2011            Fires: 74,126           Acres: 8,711,367
2010            Fires: 62,471           Acres: 3,233,461
2009            Fires: 78,792           Acres: 5,921,786
2008            Fires: 80,094           Acres: 5,254,109
2007            Fires: 85,822           Acres: 9,321,326
2006            Fires: 96,358           Acres: 9,871,939
2005            Fires: 66,552           Acres: 8,686,753
2004            Fires: 63,608           Acres: 8,097,880
*2013 data through 10/16

Extreme Heat
In addition to wildfires, extreme heat is also way down across the US this year. In fact, the number of 100 degree days across the country during 2013 is not only down for this year, but it is perhaps going to turn out to be the lowest in about 100 years of records (chart below).

(Source: NOAA, USHCN reporting stations; through August)

The five summers with the highest number of 100 degree days across the US are as follows: 1936, 1934, 1954, 1980 and 1930. In addition to the vast reduction in 100 degree days across the US this year, the number of high temperature records (ie hi max and hi min records) is way down compared to a year ago with 22,965 records this year as compared with 56,885 at this same time last year.
(Source: NOAA,; through 10/17).

Finally, as far as hurricanes are concerned and keeping in mind that the season isn’t over yet, there have been only two hurricanes so far this year in the Atlantic Basin (Humberto and Ingrid) and they were both short-lived and weak category 1 storms.

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