NOT MANY KNOW THAT
31 JULY 2021Tags: 1971
By Paul Homewood
Montreal’s “Storm of the Century” – March 1971
As COP26 grows big and the public becomes aware of the crippling cost of Net Zero, the media desperately raise alarms whenever bad weather events occur. They have given up any claim to objective reporting and have shamelessly ascribed every flood, heat wave, drought and storm to climate change.
As you know, I ran a monthly series on the weather in the UK 50 years ago to compare with this year’s. But how was the weather worldwide in 1971?
The following summary gives a taste. (All details can be found here.)
I urge everyone to claim that this year’s weather was worse:
In 1971 much of the world was hit by a severe drought.
The Sahel was in the midst of a terrible drought that lasted from 1967 to 1988. However, the drought conditions extended well beyond this particular part of Africa to much of the Middle East and India. Scientists explained at the time that these long-term drought conditions were the direct result of global cooling that pushed tropical rainbelts closer to the equator.
In Ethiopia, 300,000 died in the two-year drought that began in 1971. Another 150,000 in Kenya were hit by one of the worst droughts on record. The drought also had a severe impact on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, while India’s 1971-72 monsoon outage was one of the worst on record in 1876.
Much of northern China was also badly affected, while Australia and Argentina also suffered severe droughts in the wider area.
The US did not get away with it lightly either. Texas experienced the worst drought since the 1950s, while the Florida drought was the worst, with wildfires devastating 400,000 acres in the Everglades. California, Maryland, North Carolina, Minnesota, and even Hawaii also suffered major droughts.
North Vietnam was hit by one of the worst floods of the 20th century. Because of the Vietnam War, there was little news of the Red River Flood at the time, but it left 100,000 dead.
In India, 10,800 people died from storm surges and floods during a cyclone that hit Orissa. Earlier this year, 32 people died in floods in Kuala Lumpur after heavy monsoon rains.
In Australia, Queensland has been hit by several major floods, Canberra and Victoria as well as New Plymouth in New Zealand.
Elsewhere, 130 died in the Rio de Janeiro floods that year, 19 died in flash floods in Barcelona after 308mm of rain fell in 24 hours, and heavy rain caused a massive landslide in the village of Saint-Jean-Vianney in Quebec, in which 31 people were killed.
Hardly a month went by in the United States without major flooding anywhere. In February, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin were hit by severe flooding. A month later, it was the turn of the southeastern states, particularly Georgia, which recorded record water levels in some areas. May and June saw significant flooding in Utah, Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming, while Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia suffered in June and July.
The following month, Baltimore was hit by one of the most devastating thunderstorms in 50 years, killing 14 from the resulting floods.
In the same month, widespread flooding followed Tropical Storm Doria along the coast from N Carolina to Maine. Also in August, Alaska suffered one of the worst floods on record.
Extensive floods occurred in September and October affecting Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. And at the end of the year, Oklahoma, along with Arkansas, was once again hit by significant floods.
Hurricanes and tornadoes
The Atlantic hurricane season has been described as “fairly active” with three hurricanes hitting the US. The strongest was Edith, a Cat 5 that killed dozens in Nicaragua before turning north and hitting Louisiana.
Ginger is on record as the longest Atlantic hurricane of all time at the time. A nameless storm reached hurricane status further north than any other tropical cyclone in the North Atlantic in August.
Unusually, Canada found itself at the end of two hurricanes, Beth and Doria, both of which caused huge floods. Both were listed by Natural Resources Canada among the 18 major hurricanes of the 20th century.
In the Eastern Pacific, hurricane season was above average with 18 named storms, 6 of which hit land. The latter is still the record for a season.
The typhoon season in the western Pacific was also busy with 24 typhoons, 6 of which were super typhoons. The season got off to an extremely active start with a record number of storms before August. Typhoon Rose killed 130 people in Hong Kong and many more at sea.
Queensland was hit with great damage by Cyclone Althea, a Cat 4 cyclone.
In the USA, too, the tornado season was above average with 82 F3 + tornadoes (compared to 32 in the previous year). The worst tornado outbreak occurred in February in the Mississippi Valley, producing 19 tornadoes and claiming 123 people in three states.
Canada’s one-season snowfall record was set in British Columbia in the winter of 1971-72. That same winter, the US record fell on Mount Baker in Washington for 1,122 inches of snow.
Montreal’s “Snowstorm of the Century” left 17 dead with 70 mph winds that drifted across the second floor.
Texas and Oklahoma were hit by a huge blizzard that broke the state snow depth record on the latter. The described NWS in Amarillo lists this blizzard as one of the top 20 weather events in the Panhandle.
Colombia had its worst winter in years, made worse by severe spring flooding.
But it wasn’t cold everywhere. Gwynedd set the UK’s highest January temperature ever of 65 ° F.