One of the most severe outbreaks occurred March 14-15 when tornadoes struck throughout the southeastern states.
One tornado struck downtown Atlanta, Georgia on March 14. The tornado was on the ground for about six miles, killing one person, injuring 30 others and damaging hotels, skyscrapers and sports arenas. Buildings affected include the CNN Center, Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center, Philips Arena and the Omni Hotel. Damage was estimated at about $200 million.
On March 15, another tornado struck in Georgia, killing two people and damaging houses and farms in the rural area north of Atlanta. Other states affected include Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee.
On February 5 and 6, the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded in the month of February occurred. Some 79 tornadoes hit in 10 states, killing 57 people. Storms tore through Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Several dormitories at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee were destroyed. The storms were among the worst tornado clusters in U.S. history.
Rising Prices Affect Consumers Around the World - Rice prices have hit a 20-year high, creating problems in Asia, where billions of people depend on the cheap grain. The rising prices are a sign of global food inflation, said experts.
Global wheat prices are also on the rise, while production is down. Production has failed to keep pace with demand in seven of the past eight years, causing inventories to fall to a 30-year low. In March, wheat reached nearly $20 a bushel, nearly tripling the record from 1996.
In China, food prices rose at more than 18 percent in January, becoming the 11th straight month consumer costs have increased.
Rocketing prices are also affecting tea, coffee, grains and soybeans around the world. Prices are near record levels, up more than 35 percent in the past year.
Rising costs of vegetable oil is affecting residents of India. Raw material for the oil has soared, causing many brand new factories to sit idle. Prices for palm oil, soybean oil and many types of vegetable oil have climbed 37 percent during the last year.
Coal prices have jumped 25 percent in Australia, reaching record levels. The rising costs are blamed on power cuts and reduced output. China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, halted exports until April. China is also restricting exports to boost their domestic supply. China relies on coal for nearly 80 percent of their power.
Flooding Affects Several U.S. States - The flooding season has started early across many areas of the United States.
During March, more than 16 deaths were reported from flooding across Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Kentucky. Flooding in Missouri began a month earlier than usual, caused by heavy rain and melting snow in the area. In Arkansas, the White River rose to record levels, flooding many towns in the eastern part of the state.
The northeast also experience flooding. Record rainfall fell in Albany, New York in March, causing local flooding. In Maryland and Pennsylvania, record snows have caused elevated runoff in many rivers. Pennsylvania received 7.62 inches of precipitation in February.
Maine experienced record-breaking precipitation in February, breaking a 1960 record. Massachusetts received almost 8 inches of rain in February, breaking a record in Boston. Vermont and Connecticut also reported high amounts of snow and rain during February and March.
Earthquakes Hit Several Areas - An earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale struck parts of England on Feb. 27. It was the largest quake to hit England since 1984. Areas from London to Manchester were affected. The quake was centered near Lincolnshire.
In Germany, dozens of small quakes have occurred over the past few months. The largest registered 4.0 on the Richter magnitude scale. Minor damage was reported on some buildings and coal mining at the Saarland mine was halted.
In Indonesia, the fault line responsible for the 2004 tsunami has caused nearly 20 small quakes in recent months. Three larger quakes have also occurred. A 7.4 magnitude quake killed three people in Indonesia and damaged hundreds of homes. Officials in the area are concerned about the stability of the fault.
The U.S. state of Nevada received a rare 6.0 earthquake. The quake was the strongest to hit the region in nearly 15 years. More than 35 aftershocks of 3.0 or larger were also felt. Dozens of homes were damaged, power outages occurred and a historic district in Wells, Nevada was destroyed.
In Norway, the biggest quake in Norwegian history struck in late February. The tremor measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. No injuries were reported, but several buildings were damaged.
"Appeared in DRJ's Spring 2008 Issue"