Extreme weather in the US: 2018 in review


“This looks like a war zone,” said Diana Brewer, a Montecito resident. 

In January heavy rain fell on the burn scar left behind by what was then the largest wildfire in California history. The Thomas fire.

Fast-moving floods triggered mudslides and debris flows that swept away cars and buried homes in Santa Barbara County.

“There’s nothing here anymore, besides a river of mud,” said Rachel Ross, another resident of Montecito, California. 

More than a dozen people were killed and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed.

The Thomas fire, which began in December 2017 and charred nearly 282,000 acres of land, wasn’t fully extinguished until June.

It was a snowy and frigid start to the new year for the east coast.

A series of winter storms brought snow to the deep south.

Tallahassee, Florida saw its first measurable snow in nearly 30 years and Charleston, South Carolina received its largest snowfall since 1989 with 5-point-3 inches.

“We’re not used to the winds being this cold,” said Leah Ramuglia, a Boston native. 

That same series of storms brought bone-chilling temperatures, blinding snow, and historic flooding to parts of New England.

The tide at Boston harbor reached a record of 15.16 feet.

Floodwaters reached the doors of some homes, forcing people to flee.

Cars were submerged, some in as much as three feet of water.

The Mendocino complex fire erupted in northern California.

Just over 459,000 acres were scorched and more than 300 homes were destroyed.

Officials say it’s the largest wildfire in state history.

And it wasn’t fully contained until September.

Also in September Hurricane Florence took aim on the southeast as a category 4 storm.

More than a million people across North and South Carolina were told to leave or prepare for the worst.

South Carolina Representative Tom Rice warned residents they were on their own if they didn’t evacuate.

“If you stay, and you get stuck in this, you’re on your own.”

The slow-moving storm weakened to a category one before making landfall near Wrightsville beach, North Carolina.

But its effects were still devastating as high winds toppled trees, transformers exploded, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in the dark.

The storm’s relentless rain and high storm surge triggered destructive flooding.

More than a dozen rivers in North and South Carolina overflowed their banks, inundating homes and prompting hundreds of water rescues.

More than 50 people were killed in the storm.

In October Hurricane Michael charged toward the Florida panhandle.

Governor Rick Scott urged residents to prepare.

“This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous.”

Michael made landfall near Mexico beach as a strong category 4 with 155 mile-per-hour winds.

It’s the strongest hurricane to hit the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

“The roar of it, I guess, is what was just deafening,” said Rebecca Garrigan, a Florida resident who rode out the storm.

Homes were wiped off their foundations or splintered like toothpicks. Roads were ripped apart. Coastlines made unrecognizable.

As Michael moved inland, it devastated Georgia’s agriculture.

State officials estimate it caused more than two billion dollars in damage.

In November, the catastrophic Camp Fire erupted in northern California.

“This is so devastating that I don’t have the words to describe it,” California’s Governor, Jerry Brown said.

Fast-moving flames, fueled by fierce winds, devoured everything in their path.

The fire scorched 153,000 acres in Butte County and all but leveled the town of Paradise.

Mayor of Paradise Jody Jones spoke of the devastating damage.

“90% of the homes in every single neighborhood are gone.”

More than 80 people were killed in the northern California wildfire.

And officials say it is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history.

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