Extreme Weather | USDA Climate Hubs (2024)

Extreme events are occurrences of unusually severe weather or climate conditions that can cause devastating impacts on communities and agricultural and natural ecosystems. Weather-related extreme events are often short-lived and include heat waves, freezes, heavy downpours, tornadoes, tropical cyclones and floods. Climate-related extreme events either persist longer than weather events or emerge from the accumulation of weather or climate events that persist over a longer period of time. Examples include drought resulting from long periods of below-normal precipitation or wildfire outbreaks when a prolonged dry, warm period follows an abnormally wet and productive growing season.

Scientists usually define an extreme event using either of two approaches. The first approach examines the probability or chance of an event of a given magnitude occurring within a certain reference period (e.g., 1961 - 1990); here an extreme event has a low probability of occurring at a given location (< 10%) and is typically of a high intensity. This type of probabilistic approach is applied in extreme event attribution to determine whether global warming is driving changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme events.

The second approach is more widely applied by the climate adaptation community and uses impact-related thresholds to determine if an event is extreme, and to inform adaptive solutions. A common example here is the number of consecutive days over 100˚F, which can be used to quantify heat waves. Of course, impacts associated with a 100˚F threshold will vary according to location – what might be an extreme event in one place (e.g., Burlington, VT) may be within the normal range somewhere else (e.g., Phoenix, AZ). Thus, thresholds are often location-specific.

This portion of the Climate Hubs website expands on the types of extreme events that impact the different climate hub regions. For example, strong tropical cyclones (hurricanes or typhoons) pound Atlantic and Pacific coastal regions and islands with torrential rain, powerful winds and flooding while drought and wildfire regularly impact Western U.S. States.

The resources listed below also provide more details on the definition and monitoring of extreme climate and weather events, extreme event attribution, and extreme weather events in the context of climate change.


Herring, S.C., Christidis, N., Hoell. A., Kossin, J.P., Schreck C.J., Stott, P.A. (Eds.), 2018. Explaining Extreme Events of 2016 from a Climate Perspective. Special Supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 99, No. 1.

IPCC, 2012: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [C.B. Field, V. Barros, T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, D.J. Dokken, K.L. Ebi, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S.K. Allen, M. Tignor, and P.M. Midgley (eds.)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, 582 pp.

Lindsey, R., 2016. Extreme event attribution: the climate versus weather blame game, https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/extreme-event-attribution-climate-versus-weather-blame-game, ClimateWatch Magazine, NOAA.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016. Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21852.

Walsh, J., et al., 2014: Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment, [J. M. Melillo, T.C. Richmond, and G. W. Yohe (Eds.)], U.S. Global Change Research Program, 19-67. doi:10.7930/J0KW5CXT.

Extreme Weather | USDA Climate Hubs (2024)


Extreme Weather | USDA Climate Hubs? ›

Extreme events are occurrences of unusually severe weather or climate conditions that can cause devastating impacts on communities and agricultural and natural ecosystems. Weather-related extreme events are often short-lived and include heat waves, freezes, heavy downpours, tornadoes, tropical cyclones and floods.

What city has the most extreme weather? ›

Earth's most extreme towns: Inside the hottest, wettest and riskiest settlements on the planet
  • Hottest place -Araouane, Mali.
  • Coldest place -Oymyakon, Sakha Republic, Russia.
  • Driest place -Arica, Atacama Desert,Chile.
  • Most polluted place -La Oroya, Peru.
  • Riskiest place -Vanuatu, South Pacific Ocean.
Feb 25, 2023

How many climate hubs are there? ›

The hubs are led and hosted by the Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service located at ten regional locations, with contributions from many agencies including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, and the Risk Management Agency.

What part of the world has the most severe weather? ›

Mount Washington is known for having the worst weather in the world. A relatively 'calm' 40 mph summer day can give a taste of how much more extreme summit weather can be from valley weather. This weather happens primarily for three reasons, the summit's prominence, its exposure and its storm tracks.

Which U.S. city has the most unpredictable weather? ›

Among the cities we tested, the one with the most unpredictable weather is … Rapid City, South Dakota. Congratulations, Rapid City! The ICAO code for Rapid City Regional Airport is KRAP.

What U.S. city has the worst weather? ›

1. QUILLAYUTE, WASHINGTON–Ever heard of it? Neither had we. In fact, it's not a city but a location where weather data is accumulated and because of the numbers, it ranks as the number one worst weather location.

Where are the 6 climate zones? ›

Furthermore, they will explore the climate classification system and characteristics of the 6 major climate zones: polar, temperate, arid, tropical, Mediterranean, and mountain climate regions.

Are there 12 climate zones? ›

Sometimes climate types are called climate zones. Each of the 12 climate types are grouped into 5 categories, except 1 (Highland). Climates in the same category share characteristics and usually are found in the same area. Climates change over time, usually the change is very slow.

What place on Earth has the worst weather? ›

Mount Washington, in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, is notorious for having the “worst weather in the world.” Many people may wonder how its weather could rival that of places like Antarctica, Mount Everest, or the Sahara Desert.

What place on Earth has the best weather? ›

Ecuador. The weather in Ecuador is ideal as it is consistent throughout the year. Since the country is at the equator, the sunshine is also steady and hence, these conditions make the country one of the places with the best weather in the world.

What is the harshest place on Earth? ›

Antarctica. As the coldest continent on Earth, Antarctica is the winner of extreme weather conditions (and also the most untouched by humankind).

Where is the safest place from extreme weather? ›

I​n 2021, U.S. News and World Report analyzed resiliency data from the Environmental Protection Agency and found that the top five most climate-resilient cities in the U.S. were Anchorage, Alaska; Honolulu; Spokane, Washington; Eugene, Oregon; and Santa Barbara, California.

Where is the best place to be during severe weather? ›

The safest place in the home is the interior part of a basem*nt. If there is no basem*nt, go to an inside room, without windows, on the lowest floor. This could be a center hallway, bathroom, or closet. For added protection, get under something sturdy such as a heavy table or workbench.

What is the thunderstorm capital of the world? ›

Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela is considered the lightning capital of the world, with an average of 233 lightning strikes per square kilometer per year, according to NASA.

What city has the most extreme temperature range? ›

Only a handful of towns in Siberia and Canada have temperature ranges of 100 °C (180 °F) or more, and Verkhoyansk is the only place on earth with a temperature range of 105 °C (189 °F) or higher. Verkhoyansk has never recorded a temperature above freezing between November 10 and March 14.

What city has the most consistent weather? ›

Best U.S. Cities for Year-Round Weather
  • Boise, ID.
  • Charleston, SC.
  • Henderson, NV.
  • Honolulu, HI.
  • Orlando, FL.
  • San Diego, CA.
  • Santa Barbara, CA.
  • Santa Fe, NM.
Jun 3, 2024

What is the hottest city on Earth? ›

The hottest place on Earth is Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California (USA), where a temperature of 56.7°C (134°F) was recorded on 10 July 1913. In summer months, Death Valley has an average daily high of 45°C (113°F). This is only the air temperature, with surface heat much higher.

What US city has the highest recorded temperature? ›

What Is The Hottest Place in the United States? Death Valley, California, recorded a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913. More than a century later, that temperature remains the highest ever recorded in the United States.

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