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Hubert Quetelard, Pierre Bessemoulin, Randall S. Cerveny, Thomas C. Peterson, Andrew Burton, and Yadowsun Boodhoo

Abstract

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Climatology (CCl) evaluation process is applied to two extreme rainfall records occurring at Cratère Commerson on La Réunion Island during the passage of the major Tropical Cyclone (TC) Gamede for inclusion into the WMO CCl World Weather and Climate Extremes Archive. In February 2007, TC Gamede made two approaches to La Réunion Island as it traversed a rather complex path in the Indian Ocean. Gamede's main feature was massive rainfall accumulation inland, with several 3- and 4-day rainfall totals exceeding 2 m. Specifically, an extreme rainfall rate of 3,929 mm over 72 h was recorded at Cratère Commerson, well above the previous world record of 3,240 mm that had been measured at Grand-Ilet during TC Hyacinthe in 1980. In addition, the Cratère Commerson rain gauge registered a rainfall total of 4,869 mm over 4 days; also well above the previous world record. The evaluation committee found that consistent regional rainfall measurements, reliable calibrated equipment, and correct recording procedures were followed throughout the event. Problems with potential wind-induced measurement errors were discussed, but the committee consensus is that such errors tend to underestimate rather than overestimate rainfall accumulations. As shown by analysis of this event, the validation process for the WMO CCl Weather and Climate Extremes Archive provides essential documentation and certification for weather extremes across the world.

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Khalid I. El Fadli, Randall S. Cerveny, Christopher C. Burt, Philip Eden, David Parker, Manola Brunet, Thomas C. Peterson, Gianpaolo Mordacchini, Vinicio Pelino, Pierre Bessemoulin, José Luis Stella, Fatima Driouech, M. M Abdel Wahab, and Matthew B. Pace

On 13 September 1922, a temperature of 58°C (136.4°F) was purportedly recorded at El Azizia (approximately 40 km south-southwest of Tripoli) in what is now modern-day Libya. That temperature record of 58°C has been cited by numerous world-record sources as the highest recorded temperature for the planet. During 2010–11, a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission of Climatology (CCl) special international panel of meteorological experts conducted an in-depth investigation of this record temperature for the WMO World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes (http://wmo.asu.edu/). This committee identified five major concerns with the 1922 El Azizia temperature extreme record, specifically 1) potentially problematical instrumentation, 2) a probable new and inexperienced observer at the time of observation, 3) unrepresentative microclimate of the observation site, 4) poor correspondence of the extreme to other locations, and 5) poor comparison to subsequent temperature values recorded at the site. Based on these concerns, the WMO World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes rejected this temperature extreme of 58°C as the highest temperature officially recorded on the planet. The WMO assessment is that the highest recorded surface temperature of 56.7°C (134°F) was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch (Death Valley), California.

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Alain Joly, Dave Jorgensen, Melvyn A. Shapiro, Alan Thorpe, Pierre Bessemoulin, Keith A. Browning, Jean-Pierre Cammas, Jean-Pierre Chalon, Sidney A. Clough, Kerry A. Emanuel, Laurence Eymard, Robert Gall, Peter H. Hildebrand, Rolf H. Langland, Yvon Lemaître, Peter Lynch, James A. Moore, P. Ola G. Persson, Chris Snyder, and Roger M. Wakimoto

The Fronts and Atlantic Storm-Track Experiment (FASTEX) will address the life cycle of cyclones evolving over the North Atlantic Ocean in January and February 1997. The objectives of FASTEX are to improve the forecasts of end-of-storm-track cyclogenesis (primarily in the eastern Atlantic but with applicability to the Pacific) in the range 24 to 72 h, to enable the testing of theoretical ideas on cyclone formation and development, and to document the vertical and the mesoscale structure of cloud systems in mature cyclones and their relation to the dynamics. The observing system includes ships that will remain in the vicinity of the main baroclinic zone in the central Atlantic Ocean, jet aircraft that will fly and drop sondes off the east coast of North America or over the central Atlantic Ocean, turboprop aircraft that will survey mature cyclones off Ireland with dropsondes, and airborne Doppler radars, including ASTRAIA/ELDORA. Radiosounding frequency around the North Atlantic basin will be increased, as well as the number of drifting buoys. These facilities will be activated during multiple-day intensive observing periods in order to observe the same meteorological systems at several stages of their life cycle. A central archive will be developed in quasi-real time in Toulouse, France, thus allowing data to be made widely available to the scientific community.

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Randall S. Cerveny, Pierre Bessemoulin, Christopher C. Burt, Mary Ann Cooper, Zhang Cunjie, Ashraf Dewan, Jonathan Finch, Ronald L. Holle, Laurence Kalkstein, Andries Kruger, Tsz-cheung Lee, Rodney Martínez, M. Mohapatra, D. R. Pattanaik, Thomas C. Peterson, Scott Sheridan, Blair Trewin, Andrew Tait, and M. M. Abdel Wahab

Abstract

A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Climatology international panel was convened to examine and assess the available evidence associated with five weather-related mortality extremes: 1) lightning (indirect), 2) lightning (direct), 3) tropical cyclones, 4) tornadoes, and 5) hail. After recommending for acceptance of only events after 1873 (the formation of the predecessor of the WMO), the committee evaluated and accepted the following mortality extremes: 1) “highest mortality (indirect strike) associated with lightning” as the 469 people killed in a lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, on 2 November 1994; 2) “highest mortality directly associated with a single lightning flash” as the lightning flash that killed 21 people in a hut in Manica Tribal Trust Lands, Zimbabwe (at time of incident, eastern Rhodesia), on 23 December 1975; 3) “highest mortality associated with a tropical cyclone” as the Bangladesh (at time of incident, East Pakistan) cyclone of 12–13 November 1970 with an estimated death toll of 300 000 people; 4) “highest mortality associated with a tornado” as the 26 April 1989 tornado that destroyed the Manikganj district, Bangladesh, with an estimated death toll of 1300 individuals; and 5) “highest mortality associated with a hailstorm” as the storm occurring near Moradabad, India, on 30 April 1888 that killed 246 people. These mortality extremes serve to further atmospheric science by giving baseline mortality values for comparison to future weather-related catastrophes and also allow for adjudication of new meteorological information as it becomes available.

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