Global Focus
Satellite image of thunderstorms and associated heavy rain over Hispanola on May 24, 2004
Deadly Floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Global Hazards and Significant Events
May 2004
Torrential rains brought massive flooding to Haiti and the Dominican Republic during May 18-25. Additional information can be found below.

Drought conditions
In the United States, significant precipitation during the winter season alleviated drought conditions along the immediate West Coast, although severe to extreme drought classification continued in May throughout the Intermountain West, the Northern Rockies, and southward into Arizona. Exceptional drought classification was noted through parts of Montana and Idaho. Moderate drought conditions developed in parts of the Southeast by the end of April and continued through May. Click Here for the Drought Monitor depiction as of May 18, 2004
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For comprehensive drought analysis, please see the U.S. drought report for May.

Active Wildfires on May 6, 2004
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The western wildfire season got off to an above average start by early May with fire danger at unprecedented high levels for early spring in parts of California (NIFC). Several large fires affected the southwestern part of the state, where the Eagle and Cerrito fires charred more than 11,500 hectares (28,000 acres) and destroyed more than a dozen houses (NCTimes).

For additional details on the 2004 wildfire season in the United States, see the May Wildfire Summary.

Rain and late season snow blanketed areas of Canada's main grain-growing region on the 12th, including areas of Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The storm dumped the equivalent of 10-40 mm (0.4 to 1.6 inches) of water on some parts of the prairie provinces, where prolonged drought has plagued the region (Reuters).

Long term drought continued across areas of Africa, including the Greater Horn and parts of southern Africa (WFP). Seasonal rains brought relief to some areas during late April and into May. Precipitation anomaly estimates for Africa during March through May 2004
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Rainfall deficiencies during March-May 2004 from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology
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Below normal rainfall during March through May resulted in worsening drought conditions in areas of eastern and southern Australia. Rainfall deficiencies in parts of Queensland and New South Wales were particularly acute. The latest drought statement can be obtained from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Heavy rainfall and flooding
Rainfall intensity estimates on May 1, 2004
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Showers and thunderstorms brought torrential rains and flooding to parts of Texas during May 1-2. Flooding affected northern and coastal sections of the state, resulting in 6 deaths (Associated Press).
Flooding that began at the beginning of 2004 along the Zambezi River affected over 21,000 people living in Zambia. Western and northern provinces of the country were the worst affected (OCHA).

In Kenya, several thousand people were displaced by flooding in early May, mostly in the western part of the country. There were 15 fatalities reported due to the flooding (AFP). Kenya's wet season runs from March through May.
Flood affected areas courtesy of the Dartmouth Flood Observatory
Areas Affected By Flooding

Flash floods were responsible for 8 deaths in western Iran on the 2nd (AFP). Heavy rainfall along the Deleshir River in the Kermanshah province caused the river to quickly rise above the flood stage, resulting in the fatalities.

Near record to record rainfall totals in the Jiangxi Province of eastern China during May 11-15 caused flooding and landslides that killed seven people. (Disaster Relief)

Heavy rains caused flooding in Texas and Oklahoma on the 14th. More than 432 mm (17 inches) of rain fell in nine hours placing 644 square km (400 square miles) of Robertson County, TX underwater. At least one person died in an automobile accident due to the heavy rains, and as many as 200 homes were damaged from the rising flood waters. (Associated Press)

Rainfall estimates from the NASA TRMM satellite during May 18-25, 2004
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A low-pressure system originating from Central America crossed the Caribbean and affected Hispanola during May 18-25, bringing exceptionally heavy showers and thunderstorms to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Rainfall amounts exceeding 500 mm (19.7 inches) were common across the border areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic during this time period. Flooding was extensive in the town of Jimani in the southwestern Dominican Republic, where 250 mm (10 inches) of rain fell in just 24 hours, causing the Soliel River to overflow its banks. In neighboring Mapou, Haiti, nearly half the homes in the town were destroyed, numbering 1,300. Widespread flooding and mudslides in the two countries were blamed for nearly 2,000 deaths (Reuters/AFP/CNN/Associated Press).

For an archive of flood events worldwide, see the Dartmouth Flood Observatory.

Severe Storms
Strong thunderstorms produced damaging winds, hail and a few tornadoes through parts of Minnesota on the 9th. More than 22,000 customers lost electricity in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area (Associated Press). Map of storm reports on May 9, 2004
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Tornado on May 22, 2004 in Furnas county Nebraska
Tornado on May 22 in Furnas county, Nebraska
A significant outbreak of severe weather and tornadoes affected portions of the U.S. Great Plains during May 21-24, 2004. There were 179 reported tornadoes during this period, along with many reports of hail and wind damage.
A strong tornado rated F-4 on the Fujita Scale virtually destroyed the town of Hallam, Nebraska on the 22nd, and caused one fatality (Reuters). Tornado damage near Hallam, NE on May 22
Derailed Train Photo Near Hallam, NE
Animation of severe weather reports during May 21-26, 2004
Animation of severe weather reports May 21-26
Severe weather spread into the Tennessee Valley and Mid-Atlantic states by the 26th.
Another outbreak of severe weather affected areas of the Plains states eastward into the Tennessee Valley during May 29-30. Severe weather reports during May 29-30, 2004
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In southern China, a rare tornado struck the town of Qishi in Guangdong province on the 8th. The tornado injured 85 people and killed two. A total of 462 people were made homeless, as more than 200 houses were destroyed (Associated Press).

Tropical Cyclones
Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone 01A in the Arabian Sea on May 6, 2004
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Tropical Cyclone 01A developed in the Arabian Sea on the 5th and dissipated off the west coast of India by the 10th. Maximum sustained winds at the storm's peak reached 85 km/hr (45 knots or 50 mph). Although the storm never made landfall, there were 23 fishermen from India reported missing off the coast of the southern state of Kerala. Heavy rains pounded coastal areas and badly damaged around 1,500 homes (AFP).
Typhoon Nida developed as a tropical storm in the western Pacific Ocean on the 14th and quickly reached typhoon strength the same day. By the 16th Nida developed into a Super Typhoon. Typhoon Nida made landfall in the Philippines as a category 4 storm on the 18th. Maximum sustained winds were 260 km/hr (140 knots or 161 mph) at the time of landfall, and the typhoon caused between 20-30 deaths. The typhoon forced the evacuation of thousands of people, and caused a ferry to overturn that was carrying 168 passengers off the central Camotes Islands. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a disaster in eight eastern provinces (Associated Press). Nida was the fourth typhoon to hit the archipelago this year. Satellite image of Typhoon Sudal
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Satellite image of Tropical Cyclone 02B near Burma on May 19, 2004
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Tropical Cyclone 01B developed in the Bay of Bengal on the 17th and made landfall along the north coast of Burma near the border with Bangladesh on the 19th with maximum sustained winds near 110 km/hr (60 knots or 70 mph). The storm was responsible for at least 220 deaths in Burma, along with the loss of at least 84 fishing vessels or ships (AFP/OCHA).

A table containing the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index for global tropical cyclones occurring during the month of May 2004 is available.

Extratropical Cyclones

No reports of significant extratropical cyclones were received during May 2004

Severe winter weather
An unusual late-season snow fell across the Kashmir region along the border of India and Pakistan during early May. Indian defense ministry officials reported that the army was dispatched in an effort to rescue some 20,000 nomads trapped in the Himalayan areas of Kashmir, where heavy snow had effectively cut off the region (AFP). Visible satellite image depicting snow cover from snowfall on April 13, 2004
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In France, unseasonably heavy snow fell on the 9th in the northeast areas of the country. Heavy snow accumulation on the order of 30 cm (one foot) was observed at elevations above 900 meters (2,970 feet). The snow caused road closures and power outages, with some 5,000 households losing electricity (AFP).


Basist, A., N.C. Grody, T.C. Peterson and C.N. Williams, 1998: Using the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager to Monitor Land Surface Temperatures, Wetness, and Snow Cover. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 37, 888-911.

Peterson, Thomas C. and Russell S. Vose, 1997: An overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network temperature data base. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 78, 2837-2849.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Global Hazards for May 2004, published online June 2004, retrieved on July 18, 2024 from