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  • Megan at ZeroSmart

Natural Disasters and Climate Records Broken in 2021

Updated: Apr 7, 2022


Over the past year, the world has been ravaged by a series of unprecedented natural disasters and broken climate records. Severe flooding has occurred in China and Continental Europe, heatwaves and drought in North America, and wildfires in the sub-Arctic.

According to an annual assessment of the UK's weather, extreme occurrences are becoming more regular in the country's traditionally benign environment. Temperatures in southern England reached 34°C on six consecutive days in August 2020, including five humid nights with temperatures exceeding 20°C. Even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C, British summers are expected to reach temperatures above 40°C frequently in the future.

The California raging wildfire

While the season in the American West was only getting started, sparked by an unprecedented drought, thousands of firefighters already battling 80 big blazes. By the beginning of the week, the fires had scorched more than 4,700 square kilometres (1,800 square miles) of vegetation. The most dramatic fire is the "Bootleg Fire" in Oregon, which happened in July. It burned the equivalent of Los Angeles in flora and woods in two weeks. This makes it the second-largest fire in the history of California. According to Marcus Kauffman, an Oregon forestry specialist, the fire "feeds on itself" and has even caused its lightning.

Several settlements in neighbouring California were evacuated in the face of the approaching "Dixie Fire," which is alleged to have been ignited by a tree falling on power lines. The Dixie Fire in California grew slowly and eventually eclipsed the Bootleg Fire as the largest fire in the United States this year, charring about a million acres and becoming the second-largest fire in California history.

The Caldor Fire raged through the El Dorado National Forest a few weeks later, causing extremely poor air quality in Lake Tahoe, California and Reno, Nevada. It is currently the third-largest fire in the country this year. Smoke from the West's wildfires was also carried across the country by high-level winds, ranging from the West Coast to New York.

Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida from satellite
Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida, one of the most powerful and rapidly developing hurricanes to strike the United States. It caused days of suffering and destruction, from the moment it made landfall in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. On Sunday, August 29, Hurricane Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon as a "very dangerous" Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph. At 157 mph, a hurricane becomes a Category 5. Ida then churned inland, delivering catastrophic winds, torrential rain, and tornadoes, as well as flash and urban flooding and life-threatening storm surge to the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The death toll in multiple states continues to rise – Louisiana officials confirmed at least 28 deaths, while at least 50 people died in six Eastern states. The storm destroyed both Mississippi's and Louisiana's power grids, knocking out power to over 1 million consumers, including the whole city of New Orleans, in late-summer searing heat. Some people were still without power more than two weeks later. On August 26, 2021, Ida began as a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea and strengthened to a hurricane the next day before impacting Cuba. As it approached the Louisiana coast, the storm developed into a Category 4 storm.

China subway floods

On July 21, 2021, as floodwaters flooded through a popular metro station in China, frightened passengers attempted to leave while others were dragged hopelessly off platforms. Water crept inside one railway carriage and rose from ankle to waist to neck height. Panicked passengers strained skyward to catch their breath while others hoisted shorter people into the dwindling air pocket above. Some passengers can be seen standing on chairs and hanging to the ceiling as floodwater creeps upwards in horrifying videos published on social media. One of them attempted to bust a window before realizing there was far more water outside the carriage.

Hundreds of people were eventually rescued from the flooded metro tunnel in Zhengzhou, a 12-million-person city on the banks of the Yellow River in central Henan province. However, at least 12 people were killed, and five were injured in the subway accident. The floods were caused by water which occurred after the region received more rain in three days than it normally does in a year. Parents hauled their children out of the water, while others threw off anything that could hold them down.

After roughly a half-hour, one passenger stated that it became "difficult to breathe." The order to shut down the line arrived at 18:10 local time (10:10 GMT), allowing the evacuation to begin, according to Zhengzhou government officials in a statement. Five people are being hospitalized for injuries, and 12 people have died. Children had to be evacuated from a flooded nursery school somewhere in the central Chinese metropolis. Rescuers floated them out in plastic tubs, according to state media. In China, the rain season, and floods occur every year. However, Chinese scientists believe that global warming has exacerbated the situation and that extreme weather will become more common in the future.

Severe floods in Mexico

A boy holding rubber ring, in waist high flood water in Mexico
Flooding in Mexico

Flooding began on October 1, 2021, as a result of heavy rain. According to authorities, several rivers, including the San Juan and Querétaro, were reported to have burst their banks. High dam levels forced authorities to activate flood gates, causing flooding in some places to last longer. Several municipalities in the state were affected as of October 4, including San Juan del Ro, El Marqués, Corregidora, Huimilpan, Tequisquiapan, and Querétaro, which includes the state capital Santiago de Querétaro.

According to local media, 3,500 homes and other structures were damaged, some seriously. According to state officials, thorough damage assessments have yet to be performed. Local media reports stated that 2,440 individuals had been evacuated from their homes. Several flood-related deaths have been reported. After being swept away by the raging Querétaro River, two persons were killed in Santiago de Querétaro's Santa Mara Magdalena neighbourhood. Another individual was killed when a vehicle plunged into floodwaters on the city's northern outskirts. According to the State Civil Protection, the body of a person reported missing in a river in Santa Teresa, Huimilpan, was discovered on October 6 by search and rescue crews. In Corregidora, there were reportedly unconfirmed reports of two fatalities.

This is the area's second flood incident in the recent several weeks. From mid-September, flash floods in Tequisquiapan and San Juan del Rio were triggered by heavy rain and an overflowing San Juan River. Roads were flooded and automobiles were submerged. There were no recorded injuries or fatalities. More than 50 households were evacuated from their homes in San Juan del Ro's La Rueda community. According to media reports, the flooding was exacerbated by releases from the neighbouring Centenario Dam.

Hottest summer ever in Canada

Canada's extreme temperature depicted from satellite image
Hottest Summer in Canada

There has never been a July in Vancouver that has been as hot as this one in 63 years of records. Summer 2021 was the second hottest on record, according to Environment Canada. You'll have to travel back to 1958 to discover a hotter summer - the year NASA was created, and the plastic hula hoop and quick noodles first touched store shelves.

In June, July, and August, the daily average temperature at Vancouver International Airport was 18.9 degrees Celsius, just 0.2 degrees below the 63-year-old record but significantly above the 17.2 degrees Celsius normal. In June and July, daytime temperatures reached 30 degrees Celsius while nocturnal temperatures reached 20 degrees Celsius. The hottest temperature in Canadian history was recorded at 49.6 degrees Celsius in the village of Lytton, which ultimately burned to the ground as a wildfire swept through the little community. The previous record of 45 degrees Celsius was set in 1937 in Yellow Grass and Midale, Saskatchewan.

"Naturally, everyone is talking about Lytton and concentrating on its temperature. Although Lytton is north of 50 degrees latitude, Las Vegas has never been warmer. "Environment and Climate Change Canada's chief climatologist, David Phillips, agreed. It wasn't just Lytton who was involved. The average number of days with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius in Kamloops is 33. It had 52 this year. Furthermore, in June, the city had five days with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees, which has never been recorded in records dating back 143 years. On June 29, the highest temperature was 47.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, Kelowna, which usually has 26 days above 30 degrees Celsius, had 53 days, including four days in June that were 40 degrees or higher. Even while Vancouver wasn't as heavily impacted by the heat this year, it experienced four days above 30 degrees at the end of June.

Of course, the heat wasn't the only major summer weather story in the West, ravaged by a severe drought. Phillips remarked that not all of the areas were completely dry. In June and August, for example, Regina had above-average rainfall. The high heat that afflicted farmers, on the other hand, is likely to have exacerbated the situation. "Winnipeg, too. They received around three-quarters of their typical precipitation during their growing season, "Phillips said.

Winter snow in Brazil

Four people playing in the snow in Brazil
Winter Snow in Brazil

Southern Brazil was blanketed with snow and freezing rain during a cold spell, an uncommon event in the generally tropical country. The odd weather pattern was produced by icy air flowing north from the Antarctic region on July 28 and 29, affecting 43 cities.

Many Brazilians turned to social media to share photographs of the snow that had accumulated along the country's streets and trees that had been slicked with thick ice. According to the media, many videos and photographs showed places powdered with up to an inch of snow. Polar air rushed across the southern area of Rio Grande do Sul, bringing subzero temperatures to higher altitude towns and cities.

Experts have warned that the peculiar phenomena in Brazil occur more frequently in specific weather conditions, particularly in locations between 900 and 1,900 meters (2,900 and 6,200 feet) above sea level. In Goias and Mato Grosso do Sul, the snow arrived with less than pleasant gusts of 80 kilometers per hour (49 miles per hour), an unusual event in these locations. According to weather analysts, the chilly air mass was projected to continue moving northward toward the Sao Paolo city and agricultural parts of Minas Gerais. Experts are concerned about the prospect of frost ruining significant crops in these Brazilian states, known for their huge sugar, citrus, and coffee farms.

This is the first year since 2000 that such a meteorological event has occurred three days in a row, according to the Santa Catarina Information Center for Environmental Resources and Hydrometeorology (Epagri / Cream).

During June, July, and August, winter descends on the Southern Hemisphere. Blizzards and subzero temperatures are not typical in Brazil, but they occasionally occur during the winter months. This time of year, normal temperatures in Brazil vary from 47 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. According to AccuWeather, temperatures in some places such as Bagé and Santa Maria varied from 30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, with the lowest temperatures hitting Caxias do Sul at 27 degrees Fahrenheit on average.

An overview of Wildfires in Bulgaria

Forest on fire in Bulgaria
Wildfires in Bulgaria

The General Directorate of Fire Safety and Population Protection reports that 165 fires have been put out as of August 11, 2021. The fires caused one citizen to be injured. There have been no disasters or accidents reported. Several wildfires have been linked to high temperatures:

• Kyustendil region - On August 10 2021, at 12:15 pm, a fire that started in the village of Chudintsi, municipality of Kyustendil, was put out. It covered 2630 acres in total (decares). The fire was restarted at 16:40 on 10.08.2021. The fire was put out once more.

• Nevestino Municipality and Kocherinovo Municipality - The fire, which started on 09.08.2021, is still being put out. The fire is burning in a lowland pine forest covering 600 acres (decares).

• Boboshevo municipality - on August 10, 2021, at 4:53 pm, a report of a wildfire of dry grass and bushes on a vast area near the village of Salatino was received. Between the main road E 79, the Struma Motorway, and the bifurcation towards the settlement of Salatino, there is a fire. Car traffic on the main road E 79 and train traffic in one part were both halted. Three hundred acres (decares) of dry grasses and bushes and railroad and optical cable equipment were destroyed. The fire has been contained. On August 11, 2021, an organization was formed to continue the firefighting efforts.

• Sofia Region - On August 10, 2021, the Fire Safety and Protection of Population signal a forest fire near the chalet Musala in the mountain resort Borovets, in the Sofia region. The terrain is quite difficult to navigate. The fire is around 5 acres in size (decares). The firefighting was also assisted by a Ministry of Defense helicopter.

Catastrophic Tornado in Czechia

Aftermath of the tornado in Czech. Houses and cars are abandoned and there is debris in the tree's.
Tornado in Czech

This lively period appears to have come to an end on Thursday June 24. Unfortunately, a catastrophic and deadly tornado slammed the Czech Republic's Breclav and Hodonin areas. This is the first tornado to strike the Czech Republic since 2018 and the strongest and deadliest severe weather event in Europe thus far this year. Since June 11, 2001, the Hodonin tornado has been Europe's worst tornado (Brusilov, Ukraine).

In the southeastern Czech Republic, a strong tornado ripped through many communities, causing extensive damage. So far, at least four people have died, with more than 200 people injured. Hodonin is a town in the Czech Republic's South Moravian Region, in the country's southeast corner. It has a population of around 24.000 people. Hodonin is located near the Austrian border, some 270 kilometers (165 miles) southeast of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Between the Breclav and Hodonin districts, a long-tracked supercell storm ripped off the roofs of hundreds of buildings, uprooted trees, and flipped cars.

The worst-affected areas in the tornado's path were said to resemble a war zone. The tornado carved a 25-kilometer (15-mile) route around the settlement of Husky, then grazed across the next village, Moravska Nova Ves, to the north, then passed Mikulice and Luice before ending above Hodonin. In various places along the track, the damage width stretches between 100 and 700 meters.

Aside from the tornado, several cities and villages, including Hodonin, were hit by enormous hail up to the size of tennis balls. The elderly home and the local zoo in Hodonin were also severely damaged.

Germany floods

According to climate change facts, human-caused climate change made record rainfall that prompted devastating floods in Western Europe in July 1.2 to 9 times more likely. Between July 12 and 15, at least 220 people were murdered, largely in Germany, but dozens more died in Belgium, and homes and other structures were devastated by flash flooding caused by torrential rain. Rainfall totalled more in some portions of the region in a single day than they would have expected over a month.

The study, done by 39 scientists and researchers with the World Weather Attribution (WWA) project, also discovered that the most intense rain occurred once every 400 years. 2021 Climate change increased the intensity of extreme daily rainfall by 3% to 19%. "These floods have taught us that even industrialized countries are not immune to the terrible impacts of extreme weather that we have experienced and know will worsen as a result of climate change," said Friederike Otto, associate director of the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute. "This is a critical global challenge, and we must rise to the occasion. The science is undeniably clear, and it has been for many years."

According to Maarten van Aalst, a professor of climate and disaster resilience at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, the one-in-400-year frequency only refers to the specific region studied and did not imply that similar weather events will occur in other parts of Europe or the world in another 400 years. "In this instance, [the forecast for next year is] potentially worse since, if the trend thus far is that the climate is warming, the risk will continue to rise year after year. So, if anything, we think there's a better likelihood of it happening next year than there is this year. Every year, though, it's a one-in-400 probability. "During a press conference, van Aalst stated.


In conclusion, we need a breakthrough in safeguarding people and their livelihoods, with at least half of all public climate money going toward strengthening resilience and assisting people in adapting. We also need a lot more solidarity, including full implementation of the long-standing climate financing pledge to assist developing nations in taking climate action.

If we build a safer, more sustainable and affluent future for everybody, there is no other option. While scientists' overall understanding of climate change has not improved significantly in recent years, they have made numerous significant improvements. Computer models have improved in power. Researchers have also gathered a wealth of new data by deploying satellites and ocean buoys and analyzing ice cores and peat bogs to gain a clearer picture of the Earth's past climate. This has allowed scientists to fine-tune their forecasts and come to the more precise conclusion that the Earth will warm by 2.5 to 4 degrees Celsius for every doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All these were the climactic events of 2021.


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