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Extreme Weather: Five Events That Shaped the Summer of 2013

By by Jillian MacMath, Staff Writer
September 23, 2013, 10:38:21 AM EDT

From flooding to wildfires, heat and hurricanes, this summer featured numerous events that will go down in the record books. On Sept. 22, the official start of fall will kick off, ushering in a mild transition to winter for the Northeast. Meanwhile, the potential for a snow event as well as an early frost or freeze will threaten residents in the Midwest and Ohio Valley. Before we say farewell to the warmth of summer, however, we've highlighted five of the most notable aspects:


1. Intense, Costly Wildfire Season

Though the wildfire season typically peaks in September and October, there was no shortage of events in the early part of the season this year. As of Sept. 19, more than 38,000 wildfires had already burned. This number makes up only 60 percent of the 10-year average. However, the number of acres are significant; more than 4 million acres have already been consumed entering the peak of the season and the budget has been exhausted.

The earlier half of the season was also marked by the tragic deaths of 19 members of an elite Arizona hotshots team. The firefighters were killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire that changed directions unexpectedly resulting in massive fire growth.

Additionally, the season brought a massive fire to the Yosemite National Park in California. The wildfire, named the Rim Fire, has yet to be contained since its start on Aug. 17. It's consumed more than 256,000 acres and brought smokey conditions to the park, resulting in several closed attractions and roads during the height of tourist season.

The cause of the fire was eventually found to be a result of an illegal campfire started by a hunter.


2. Boulder Flooding

For nearly a week, heavy rainfall inundated Boulder, Colo., and the surrounding areas. The rain resulted in numerous washed out roadways and bridges, and the need for hundreds of aerial water rescues. As many as seven people were killed in the floods, according to the Colorado Department of Emergency Management, and more than 100 remained missing as of Sept. 19.

The event shattered the previous September accumulation record of 5.5 inches, pushing the new total to more than 16 inches. Additionally, it set a new year-to-date accumulation record, bringing the new total to more than 29 inches.

As rain continued, the floodwaters became compromised from sewage back-up, and leaking gas and oil wells. The extent of the damage remains unclear, as floodwaters have not fully receded. Concerns remain for the local water supply.

The flood threat continues to move downstream into Nebraska along the South Platte River, where the contaminated waters will threaten farms, agricultural fields, roadways and residences within the flood plain. The area has been declared a natural disaster by President Obama.


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