Kashmiri residents struggling to withstand sudden and strong water currents while wading through floodwaters in their efforts to move to safer places in Srinagar, India, 4 September 2014. Photo: Dar Yasin / AP Photo

By Dr. Jeff Masters
23 December 2014

(wunderground.com) – 

#1: Earth Likely Had Its Warmest Year on Record

The year 2014 has made it very apparent that global warming has not stopped, as the year-to-date-period January - November 2014 was Earth's warmest such period since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). If December is at least 0.42°C (0.76°F) higher than its 20th century average, 2014 will surpass 2005 and 2010 as the warmest year on record; the departure of temperature from average during the first three weeks of December has exceeded that mark, making it likely that 2014 will end up as the warmest year on record in NOAA's reckoning. The average global sea surface temperature was the highest for January - November in the 135-year period of record, due in large part to seven consecutive months (May - November) of record warmth. Remarkably, the record-warm global temperatures of 2014 occurred in the absence of El Niño, a large-scale warming of the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean that historically has been present whenever an extended period of record-warm global temperatures have occurred.

#2: Monsoon Floods in the India-Pakistan Border Region Kill 648

Torrential monsoon rains of over 12" (305 mm) lashed the India-Pakistan border region of Kashmir and Jammu Provinces on September 3 - 7, triggering devastating floods that swept through the mountainous region, killing at least 648 people and doing $18+ billion in damage, according to insurance broker Aon Benfield. Hardest-hit were India's Jammu and Kashmir region, where damages were estimated at $16+ billion. According to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, this is the most expensive natural disaster in India's history, surpassing the $11.6 billion price tag (2014 dollars) of the July 1993 monsoon floods. In Pakistan, at least 207 people died in this summer's deluge, and damage was estimated at $2 billion. Crippling and catastrophic floods have become the new normal in Pakistan, where the six most expensive floods in their history have come in the past eight years--2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2007, and 2013. [more]

Top Ten Weather Stories of 2014

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