Top 5 U.S. Extreme Weather Events Of 2011 (Slideshow)

2011 brought many natural disasters across the world. Australia was hit with record flooding, followed by one of its worst tropical cyclones ever. Floodwaters also ravaged parts of Thailand and China, while the Horn of Africa suffered its worst drought in decades.

But the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan on March 11 was the worst natural disaster of 2011. It only lasted five minutes, but the aftermath and impact of the event will affect Japan for years to come. It was one of the five strongest quakes ever recorded on earth, and also created a large tsunami that became responsible for most of the extreme damage. Over 15,000 people died from the combination of the earthquake and tsunami.

The United States also endured several extreme weather events in 2011. Here are just 5 of them:

1.  In late January, paralyzing blizzards dumped heavy snow on 22 states. Chicago was buried under nearly two feet of snow, and the Windy City ground to a near standstill.  The Chicago Snowstorm of 2011 with 20.5 inches made it the 3rd largest snowfall in the recorded history of Chicago weather.

Photo Credit:HeyAhsan

Top Photo Credit: airwaves1

2. A deadly outbreak of tornadoes swept through the central and southeastern states from April 25 through April 28. The outbreak rivaled and surpassed what was called the Super Outbreak of 1974 which killed 315 people. On April 27, 2011, a total of 321 people died, with 240 deaths from Alabama. The event caused more than $7.3 billion insured losses.

Photo Credit: Jamiesrabbits

3.  On May 22, a tornado with winds exceeding 200 miles per hour formed and destroyed the city of Joplin, Missouri. The tornado killed 158 people, and completely destroyed the majority of the city. It was the deadliest single tornado to hit the United States since modern tornado record keeping began in 1950. It ended up being the seventh deadliest tornado in history, with nearly three billion dollars in insured damages.

Photo Credit: Jujufilms

4.  In August, Hurricane Irene drenched the Eastern Seaboard. It was a large and powerful Atlantic hurricane that left extensive flood and wind damage along its path through the Caribbean, the United States East Coast and as far north as Atlantic Canada. It triggered record flooding in New Jersey, New York State and Vermont, and cost more than $7 billion.

Photo Credit: brit_robin

5.  Also in August, Texas suffered through its worst one-year drought, as losses reached $10 billion in crops, livestock and timber. In addition, the tinder-dry conditions in Texas fueled wildfires that burned a million acres. The Bastrop fire over Labor Day weekend was the state’s most destructive on record. Overall, it was the hottest summer Texas has ever seen.

Now we can ponder why we are enduring these natural disasters and what 2012 will bring!

Photo Credit: arghhhhhhh!


Hope S.
Hope Sellers5 years ago

Interesting. Thanks for the article. Those of us who weren't nearly
as affected as others should be reminded of how lucky we are.

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M5 years ago

Thanks Judy. Now 2012 as already brought severe destruction from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Canada's cold air meeting up with the Gulf's warm air, seems incomprehensible that the air masses can cause these terrible tornado's.

Deborah D.
Deborah D6 years ago

With the possible exception of the Japanese earthquake, how
can we deny the existence of global warming?
These extreme weather changes are part of a bigger picture.

Gary C.
Gary C6 years ago

Unstable weather is having a far greater impact on the Earth nowadays compared to when I grew up in the 1950-60s , it really is getting stranger and wilder ....Thankyou....

David Lam
David Lam6 years ago

Great article!

William Y.
William Y6 years ago

@ Addison B. One of the problems with the Oct storm was what had happened previously. Most of the trees still had green leaves. This in itself was a major factor. Normally at this time, late October, the trees either have lost their leaves or have lost a part of them. This enabled the snow to remain on the trees in in much more massive quantities causing branches to fail and fall on the power lines.

Addison B.
Marlene Gentile6 years ago

I agree with Jenna C. from the Berkshires. The strange weather events that hit the East Coast, and Western Massachusetts in particular, are blatant examples of "climate change." On June 1, a tornado ripped through that part of the state leaving massive destruction in its path. It was a blessing that not more than four people were killed, but the damage done has forever changed the face of the landscape. Soon came "Hurricane Irene" further weakening the huge trees on the East Coast. Finally, the October snowstorm, as Jenna C. pointed out, finished the job. The utility companies cited this as "the worst storm in history" because so many trees and power lines were downed. It took weeks to restore power, and as Jenna said, many people's lives are still being impacted by the devastation of that storm. Utility workers came from all over the US and Canada to lend a hand to the power companies on the East Coast. The heavy snow toppled so many trees.

I grew up in Western Massachusetts and never in my life have I've seen such strange weather. My friend who also lived in Western Massachusetts for 86 years has never witnessed such violent weather. Ironically, I moved to Miami Beach, FL just the day before all the strange weather hit Massachusetts and Connecticut. Florida is hurricane country, so when I first moved here, I called my sister in Western MA to pray that Hurricane Irene didn't hit Florida. Although I was as prepared as I could be for a hurricane, I was scared. Next thi

Jenna C.
Jenna C.6 years ago

How could they not include the October 30 snowstorm which knocked out power for days to almost the entire east coast? Most businesses and schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut were closed for more than a week. Entire cities were without power for days. There were literally millions of trees down, and power line damage was unprecedented; cleanup is still going on, months later. We received almost 2 feet of snow in the Berkshires and were without power for five days. In October! Seems a bit more dramatic than a big snowstorm in Chicago in January...

TERRY R6 years ago


Jendrek Mazak
Jendrek Mazak6 years ago

Boże,a jak tam GRACE M.,daje radę!?!