Spring of 2008 was marked by weather extremes around the world.
The world endured the seventh warmest spring season on record, nearly one degree warmer than the 20th century average, according to the National Climatic Data Center's monthly synopsis of world climate.
The period saw Cyclone Nargis devastate Myanmar (Burma); nearly 78,000 peopled died. Relief efforts there are still being stymied by the military junta that controls the country, and as many as 2 million people remain at risk of hurricane-related illness and disease more than a month after the storm tore through the low-lying Irrawaddy River Delta region. The Western Hemisphere saw its first two tropical storms of the year, with Alma and Arthur making landfall in Central America.
Europe and Asia had less snow in spring 2008 than has ever before been recorded, and much of China was locked in a severe drought.
In the United States, cooler-than-usual temperatures prevailed. It was the 36th coolest March-to-May Spring season in 113 years of records.
The cool weather was accompanied, however, by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding. Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois were soaked, with each experiencing Spring rain that ranked in the top 10 wettest ever recorded (fourth, sixth, eighth, eighth and 10th, respectively). The extreme rain has continued into June, with the Midwest struggling to contain floodwaters that have swamped cities and forced thousands from their homes as a slug of water moves down the Mississippi River.
2008 has been the most deadly in years for tornadoes in the U.S., and is on pace to set a new record for deaths. The number of reported tornadoes in half a year has exceeded the 10-year average for an entire year.
Meanwhile, drought worsened in the West, with California experiencing its driest spring on record, Nevada its 10th and Utah its 11th. That drought helped set the stage for widespread evacuations and damage from wildfire.
Weather extremes are nothing new, but scientists have warned that as global warming continues to heat the atmosphere, extremes of drought and deluge will become more common, and more devastating.
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