Along with severe storms, flooding is predicted to become more frequent and intense due to global warming, since heated air can hold more moisture and release it with more fury.
A January storm dumped 10 inches of rain on California and six feet of snow in Nevada. A levee breach near Reno flooded about 800 homes. On Feb. 2, Hilo, Hawaii, recorded 11 inches of rain in a single day, more than tripling the previous record for rain in a 24-hour period. March brought record, and deadly, flooding to the Mississippi and its tributaries (pictured here). Record rainfall measurements were taken across a wide swath of the nation. In June, Iowa suffered through the second "100-year flood" in 15 years, as it sat at the epicenter of a record-setting flood that affected tens of thousands of people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador suffered from torrential rains and flooding in February, described in Ecuador as the worst in that nation's history. In September, Chile experienced the heaviest rain recorded in about 40 years. And in November, flooding and mudslides in Brazil left dozens dead, isolated eight cities behind overflowing rivers and affected 1.5 million people in what is being called that nation's worst weather disaster in history.
In June, China's Guangdong Province suffered from the heaviest rainfall in a half century, and the flooding from the storm killed dozens and caused $4 billion in damages. The same storm brought a record 5.73 inches of rain to Hong Kong in a single hour. Much of the region had its wettest month ever recorded in June.
By Dan Shapley
The recent flooding of the Mississippi River was so severe that it was clearly visible from NASA satellites.
This image, from April 7, 2008, was taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Terra satellite.
Here's how NASA described the image, and the flood:
"Meandering across relatively flat land, the Mississippi has a wide flood plain. The bulges and swells in the river seen in this image represent moderate or minor flooding, according to gauge measurements reported by the National Weather Service. The lower image shows the Mississippi before spring rains caused widespread flooding in March. A comparison of the lower image, which Terra MODIS took on February 19, 2008, reveals that many of the rivers and creeks that flow into the Mississippi were running high.
"Regular floods on the Mississippi River deposited fertile soil across the flood plain. Bright flecks of green line the river where the deep, rich soil of the flood plain now supports extensive agriculture. The crops are a brighter shade of green than the native vegetation, and land that has little growing on it is tan. Clouds are pale blue in the combination of infrared and visible light used to make these images."