Year of extremes: Top 10 weather stories of 2011 - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Year of extremes: Top 10 weather stories of 2011

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2011 is drawing to a close. We're counting down the top weather stories of 2011. Vote for your pick as the biggest weather story of 2011 for southeastern NC.

From snowstorms to wildfires, earthquakes to hurricanes, tornadoes to water spouts, southeastern North Carolina has seen just about every type of extreme weather possible in 2011.

The Winter season brought multiple snowy systems, including more than half a foot of snow for parts of the area. This came on the heels of a significant snowstorm just after Christmas Day of 2010. Several smaller snowy systems occurred in January and February.

The 2011 tornado season in the U.S. will go down as one of the deadliest and most active. North Carolina saw its share of that deadly severe weather. Two separate outbreaks hit the state in April, including one of the largest outbreaks of tornadoes in NC history. Those storms killed nearly 2 dozen people across the Carolinas. A second outbreak occurred near the end of April from the same storm system that spawned the deadly Alabama tornadoes.

Dry weather plagued the late Spring and Summer, leading to extreme drought across parts of eastern North Carolina. Several large wildfires occurred across eastern North Carolina including the Holly Shelter fire.

August was perhaps the busiest weather month. In a two week period alone, multiple significant weather stories topped the headlines. The Carolina Beach Waterspout was followed only a few days by funnel clouds, an earthquake and the effects of landfalling Hurricane Irene.

Here's the list (in chronological order) of the top 10 weather stories of 2011

January 10 - Snowstorm - Story Archive
3" to 8" of snow blanketed most of southeastern North Carolina. Hampstead saw near 8" of snow while the ILM airport received nearly 4".

April 16 - Deadly North Carolina Tornado Outbreak - Story Archive
A deadly outbreak of tornadoes pushed across the Carolinas in the largest outbreak of tornadoes in North Carolina history. Two dozen people were killed, including 4 in Bladen County.

April 28 - Deep South Tornado Outbreak - Story Archive, Story Archive
The day after the devastating Tuscaloosa tornado, the same storm system brought a half dozen tornadoes to North Carolina. Several skipped across Columbus and Pender Counties.

Spring/Summer - Eastern NC Drought -Story ArchiveStory Archive
Despite the active severe weather, dry conditions persisted into the summer. Most of eastern North Carolina remained in a moderate to extreme drought.

June 19 to August - Holly Shelter Wildfire - Story Archive
Triggered by lightning several days before, dry conditions and gusty winds turned the Holly Shelter Game Land into a raging inferno scorching over 30,000 acres. The fire burned for months before eventually being extinguished by the rains of thunderstorms and Hurricane Irene.

June 21 - Bladen County Wildfire - Story Archive
Several homes were destroyed when a previously contained wildfire jumped containment lines, thanks to strong winds from a nearby thunderstorm in Cumberland County.

August 18 - Carolina Beach Waterspout - Story Archive
A large and well photographed funnel cloud descended offshore into a large waterspout before moving onshore into downtown Carolina Beach. The tornado then moved over Carolina Beach Lake and lifted. Minor damage was caused to a boardwalk and car wash.

August 22 - Funnel Clouds over New Hanover - Story Archive
Several reports and photos of funnel clouds began pouring into WECT from New Hanover County near the Monkey Junction area.

August 23 - 5.9 Virginia Earthquake - Story Archive
A modest earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter Scale hit central Virginia but was felt across much of the eastern US. The quake damaged the Washington Monument and closed the landmark indefinitely.

August 27 - Hurricane Irene - Story Archive
Hurricane Irene made landfall on Emerald Isle as a category 1 hurricane. Winds across southeastern North Carolina gusted to 70 mph for nearly a day as the large storm churned up the East Coast.

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