Snow, Drought, Mudslides and Tornadoes Start Off 2012

By Vickie Frantz, Staff Writer
3/26/2012 8:10:15 AM

Following on the heels of a year that sustained 12 record-breaking $1 billion disasters in the United States, the early months of 2012 continued the extreme weather pattern.

Photo of tornado damage to Henryville, Indiana taken on a Blackberry by @ShiraBushFNC on Sat. March 3,2012.

Texas Drought

At the end of 2011, most of Texas was in the hold of a severe drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that as of Dec. 27, 2011, more than 84 percent of Texas was considered to be facing severe drought conditions with more than 67 percent facing extreme drought.

Rain for some areas of Texas have improved conditions in 2012, but many areas are still facing serious drought issues. As of March 20, the U.S. Drought Monitor has classified more than 56 percent of Texas as being in a severe drought and 36.5 percent of Texas is considered to be in an extreme drought.

The people of Texas can only wait and see if there will be an improvement to the drought conditions in the remaining months of this year.

California Mudslides

A storm system off the coast of California brought snow and rain to many areas during the weekend of March 17-18, 2012. Five mud/rockslides were triggered.

"An unusually cold storm dumped up to 2 feet of snow in the highest mountains of Southern California including the Big Bear Ski Resort," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Andy Mussoline. "The lower elevations got heavy rain that combined with scars from previous wildfires may have prompted mudslides."

Rock and mudslides occurred on March 17 in Kern, Mariposa, Riverside and San Diego counties.

On March 18, there were reports of several rock and mudslides in San Bernardino County.

AccuWeather's Violeta Yas has more on the mudslides and road closures in this video report.

Ohio Valley Tornadoes

Sixty-one tornadoes from March 2, 2012, have been confirmed by the National Weather Service, including two EF-4s and nine EF-3s.

The tornadoes tore destructive paths through 11 states. Before the storm system producing the tornadoes ended, at least 39 people were killed and more than 104 injuries were reported.

Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged by the tornadoes.

Tornadoes have been confirmed in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The EF-4's packing winds of 166-200 mph occurred in Kentucky and Indiana.

Indiana was one state that was suffered severe damages from the tornadoes. The town of Henryville was impacted by the EF-4 tornado that nearly leveled every building. Neighboring Maryville was hit by an EF-3 tornado that caused major damage in the town.

There were 13 fatalities reported in Indiana.

NOAA reported that the tornado in southern Indiana was the strongest to hit the state since May 28, 1996.


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In the town of West Liberty in Kentucky the EF-3 tornado reportedly damaged at least 8,000 buildings. There were at least five reported fatalities. At least 19 deaths were caused by the tornadoes in Kentucky on March 2. The EF-4 was confirmed in Grant and Kenton counties by the NWS.

Arizona, Oregon and Washington State Snow

While the winter was unseasonably warm for much of the U.S., states on the West Coast received some record snowfall in 2012.

Flagstaff, Ariz., set a daily snowfall record of 19.5 inches on March 19. There have been 26 inches of snow so far in Flagstaff for March.

Portland, Ore., reported 1.5 inches of snowfall between March 17-18. While not a lot of snow, the snowfall is unusual for Portland.

"The precipitation came down as rain during the day on the 17th then switched over to snow," said Meteorologist Evan Duffey. "The snow continued overnight before switching back to rain during the day on the 18th."

Normal snowfall for the month of March in Portland is only a half of an inch.

Seattle, Wash., had snowfall every day between Jan.14-19. Nearly 7 inches of snow fell in the downtown area on the 18th.

A pedestrian uses her umbrella for snow instead of Seattle's typical rain as she walks near a street-closure sign in Seattle during a snowstorm, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012. Several inches of snow fell quickly Sunday morning, snarling traffic and clogging roadways. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

"South of Seattle on Jan. 18, more than a foot of snow fell from Olympia down through Toledo, Wash.," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel.

"Centralia recorded 17 inches of snow on Jan. 18 and had a six-day snowfall total of 27.6 inches."