Menu

Fox News Weather Center

Extreme Weather: Five Events That Shaped the Summer of 2013

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.

A car lays buried in mud after flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Manuel as residents try to clean up their neighborhood in Chilpancingo, Mexico, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Manuel, the same storm that devastated Acapulco, gained hurricane force and rolled into the northern state of Sinaloa on Thursday before starting to weaken. (AP Photo/Alejandrino Gonzalez)

3. Late Hurricane Formation

Though the tropics began heating up in early September, the start of the season brought questions from many coastal dwellers, as it appeared to get a slow start. In actuality, July and August were on par with normal for the number of systems typically seen at that time of year, though none had developed into a hurricane.

A great deal of dry air and Saharan dust, paired with wind shear prevented systems from strengthening beyond a tropical storm through Sept. 10. Hurricane Humberto came close to being the latest ever formed on record, developing at 5 a.m. on Sept. 11, but fell short of the previous record, set by Hurricane Gustav, by a mere three hours.

4. Record Rain for Portions of Southeast, Mid-Atlantic

In June and July, the mid-Atlantic struggled to catch a break from wet weather, as days of rain helped to set new totals in several cities.

Philadelphia's rainfall total for June, July and August exceeded the previous record of 24.58 inches, making it the wettest summer on record for the city. It shattered the average for the three months of 7.91 inches.

Dover, Del.; Roanoke, Va.; Cleveland; Atlanta; Nashville; Charlotte, N.C.; and Albany, N.Y., all set new June 1 to Aug. 1 records, reaching double-digit rainfall accumulations.

At the start of August, rounds of drenching storms inundated from Missouri to the Carolinas and Florida. As many as 2 inches per hour were falling in parts of Missouri at times, causing a flash flooding emergency and resulting in washed out, impassible roadways and numerous early morning water rescues.

The flooding continued for several days, also compromising conditions for farmers. The frequent rainfall washed away insecticides and prevented spraying. Flooded fields made it difficult for farmers to plant a second crop in parts of the South.

5. Heat Waves for Midwest, Northeast

In mid-July, temperatures in the East reached staggering highs. Enduring the region's fourth heat wave of the summer, Washington, D.C., and New York City soared well into the 90s with RealFeel Temperatures as high as 110 degrees at times.

The brutal heat and humidity set an all-time peak electric usage record in New York City as power companies such as Con Edison struggled to repair and prevent outages. The New York City MTA released numerous press releases urging travelers to consume significant amounts of water and, after many inquiries, addressing why subway stations cannot be air conditioned.

At the peak of the heat, 130,000 customers in Prince George's County in Washington, D.C., were under mandatory water restrictions while repairs were made to a local water main.