Days of heavy rainfall impacted the Australian states of Queensland, New
South Wales, and Victoria near the beginning of March. Some locations in
Victoria broke monthly rainfall records in just a single day on March 2nd. Wodonga recorded 3.46 inches (88 mm) of rainfall in the span of a few hours, which broke the previous March monthly record of 3.31 inches (84 mm), set in 1926. An estimated 70 percent of New South Wales was flooded or under threat of flooding on March 5th. About 13,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes due to rising flood waters, including about 8,000 in Wagga Wagga. And it wasn't just humans that fled their homes. Thousands of wolf spiders near Wagga Wagga also sought higher ground during the floods, spinning webs in fields and trees to avoid the deluge. When people are able to return home, it is expected that the spiders will do the same. March is typically one of the driest months of the year in this region.
On March 2nd, severe thunderstorms led to one of the worst March tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. A preliminary count of 120 tornadoes, as reported by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, left massive destruction in their wake across parts of the Midwest and Southeast. At least 39 people were killed in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Alabama, and Georgia. Hundreds of
homes and businesses were destroyed in about a dozen states. The average
number of tornadoes for the entire month of March is 80. One of the hardest-hit areas was in Clark County, Indiana, where an EF-4 tornado to 175 mph (282 km/hr), struck the town of Henryville. In its entirety, the tornado left a 49-mile (79-km) long path of "total devastation", as described by an Indiana State Police Sargeant.
Tropical Storm Irina skirted down the western coast of Madagascar during the first few days of March, killing at least 73 people, mostly in the town of Ifanadiana. The storm also left more than 21,000 homeless. Tropical Cyclone Giovanna struck Madagascar just a few weeks earlier, and Irina destroyed roads and residences already weakened by the effects of Giovanna. Four fatalities were reported in South Africa. In Durban, waves reached 16 feet (three meters), closing beaches and forcing ships to remain in port.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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