Extreme weather events of 2023 so far, from wildfires to floods

Extreme weather events of 2023 so far, from wildfires to floods

Over the past 20 years, there has been a “staggering rise” in the number of extreme weather events around the world.

Today, record-breaking downpours paralysed most of Hong Kong, with flash floods swallowing train stations and trapping traffic on the roads. Schools were closed and the public was warned to seek safe shelter as the authorities suspended classes.

A week after the high winds of super Typhoon Saola, Hong Kong faced a new disaster: 600 mm (23.6 inches) of rain in 24 hours, shutting down the city for the second time in a week.

According to a news release from the government, the deluge started late on Thursday night, when the Hong Kong Observatory recorded the highest hourly rainfall since records began in 1884: more than 158 mm (6.2 in) of rain between 11 pm and midnight.

We take a look at the timeline of extreme weather occurrences in 2023.

Winter Storm Mara in US

Roads remained treacherous and hundreds of thousands were without power between January 31 and February 2 as a deadly ice storm pummeled parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

The ice storm killed 10 people and caused 500,000 power outages, which was unofficially named Winter Storm Mara.

Cyclone Freddy in Africa

Extremely powerful tropical Cyclone Freddy ravaged the southern Indian Ocean for more than five weeks in February and March 2023. It was particularly strong, devastating, and long-lived. Cyclone Freddy is the most long-lived and energetic on record.

It made landfall in Madagascar and Mozambique, killing at least 238 people and damaging thousands of homes.

Flash floods emerge in earthquake-hit areas

Massive flash floods that turned the streets of the Turkish provinces of Adiyaman and Sanliurfa into rivers are said to have killed 16 people in March. These regions had experienced exceptionally severe earthquake damage a month before.

Numerous individuals were evacuated from a wet campsite, where earthquake survivors were taking shelter in tents due to the floods' considerable damage.

Hottest April temperature in Europe

Europe recorded its highest April temperature on record amid a scorching heatwave. The August-like heat that broke several records and brought temperatures beyond 38°C in Spain was caused by a large heat dome that extended from northern Africa through the Iberian Peninsula.

Myanmar’s Storm Mocha

In May, around 463 deaths, 719 injured, and 101 missing people were reported in Myanmar following the extremely severe cyclonic Storm Mocha.

It was a powerful and deadly tropical cyclone in the North Indian Ocean that affected Myanmar and parts of Bangladesh in May 2023.

African Great Lakes floods

The same month, floods killed hundreds of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Frequent heavy rains causing damage and casualties between March and May are common in East Africa.

Europe wildfires

As the Mediterranean sweltered through record temperatures, numerous European nations including Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Algeria, and Tunisia have been engulfed in unheard-of forest fires.

Greece has seen the biggest impact, with a number of wildfires lasting a couple of weeks in July and August. With nearly 80 wildfires reported, they have caused at least 28 fatalities and 75 injuries, with 79 people detained for arson. Highs reached 41°C, with forecasts for Rhodes hitting highs of 45°C.

Deadly fires in Hawaii

Hawaii’s Maui experienced deadly fires at the start of August, with a death toll of 106.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the Maui wildfires are in the top 10 worst wildfires in the US, and the deadliest in the past century.

Greek, Turkish, and Bulgarian floods

At least 14 people have died in floods brought on by violent storms that dumped copious amounts of rain on regions of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. The storms also destroyed highways and forced evacuations.

Three people have been confirmed dead in Greece, where record rainfall has inundated the country this week, and thousands of homes have lost access to electricity and running water.

While according to the interior ministry, flooding in Turkey’s north-west have claimed the lives of seven.

And, in early September, Bulgarian officials reported that four people had perished in floodwaters on the nation’s Black Sea coast.