Skip to Main Page Content

All WMO News Articles

On 23 March 2015 an automatic weather station established by the Czech Republic on Davies Dome in the northern part of Ulu Peninsula, James Ross Island recorded a temperature of 17.9°C (64.2°F). A panel of polar meteorology experts from the Czech Republic, Argentina, Spain, Morocco, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States carefully examined the data involved with the Davies Dome observation to determine if its observation would be the new accepted record for continental highest temperature of the Antarctic Region. That 2015 Davies Dome observation was recorded a day before the current WMO accepted record of 17.5°C (63.5°F) was observed at Esperanza Base (Argentina) in the same general location in the Antarctic Region.

After an extensive assessment, it was the unanimous recommendation of the WMO committee that the Davies Dome observation be adjusted down to 17.0°C ± 0.2°C (62.6°F ± 0.4°F) and that the Davies Dome observation be accepted as the « second highest » temperature recorded in the Antarctic Region (continent only). This recommendation follows a detailed discussion by the committee of the probability that the station experienced solar radiation bias on the temperature-recording instrument at the time of the record observation. In simple terms, the committee suggested that the temperature sensor at Davies Dome was heated to around 0.9°C (1.6°F) above the true air temperature by a combination of high solar radiation (coming both directly from the sun and also reflected from the underlying ice surface) and low wind speed.

– The World Meteorological Organization has announced new « world records » for the highest reported death tolls from tropical cyclones, tornadoes, lightning and hailstorms. It marks the first time the official WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has broadened its scope from temperature and weather records to address the impacts of specific events.

The findings were announced just ahead of two major conferences on improving multi-hazard early warning systems and strengthening disaster risk reduction, taking place in Cancun, Mexico from 22 to 26 May and organized by WMO and the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction.

« Extreme weather causes serious destruction and major loss of life. That is one of the reasons behind the WMO’s efforts to improve early warnings of multiple hazards and impact-based forecasting, and to learn lessons gleaned from historical disasters to prevent future ones, » said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. « The human aspect inherent in extreme events should never be lost, » he said.

A WMO committee of experts conducted an in-depth investigation of documented mortality records for five specific weather-related events. It is hoped in the future to add more event impacts to the Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, which is maintained by the WMO Commission for Climatology and documents details of records for heat, cold, wind speed, rainfall and other events. The findings were as follows:

• Highest mortality associated with a tropical cyclone: an estimated 300,000 people killed directly as result of the passage of a tropical cyclone through Bangladesh (at time of incident, East Pakistan) of 12-13 November, 1970.

• Highest mortality associated with a tornado: an estimated 1,300 people killed by the 26 April 1989 tornado that destroyed the Manikganj district, Bangladesh.

• Highest mortality (indirect strike) associated with lightning: 469 people killed in a lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, on 2 November 1994.

• Highest mortality directly associated with a single lightning flash: 21 people killed by a single stroke of lightning in a hut in Manica Tribal Trust Lands in Zimbabwe (at the time of incident, Rhodesia) on 23 December 1975.

• Highest mortality associated with a hailstorm: a severe hailstorm occurring near Moradabad, India, on 30 April, 1888, which killed 246 people with hailstones as large as “goose eggs and oranges and cricket balls.”

We are announcing new records on Wednesday, 1 March 2017 for Antarctic High Temperatures and for Global Tropical Cyclones. New verified Record Extremes now exist for the Antarctic Region's highest temperature (corresponding to all lands/ice south of 60deg;S), the Antarctic Region's highest temperature (continent, including the mainland and adjoining islands), and the Antarctic Region's highest temperature (plateau > 2500 meters). Additionally, new verified Record Extremes now exist for Western Hemisphere's most intense tropical cyclone (by central pressure) and a new (tied) record extreme for World's most intense tropical cyclone (by sustained surface wind speed).

We are in the process of updating the site with this new information so some entries may be under development for a short while.

A World Meteorological Organization expert committee has established a new world record wave height of 19 meters (62.3 feet) measured by a buoy in the North Atlantic. The wave was recorded by an automated buoy at 0600 UTC on 4 February 2013 in the North Atlantic ocean between Iceland and the United Kingdom (approximately 59° N, 11° W). It followed the passage of a very strong cold front, which produced winds of up to 43.8 knots (50.4 miles per hour) over the area. The previous record of 18.275 meters (59.96 feet) was measured on 8 December 2007, also in the North Atlantic. The WMO Commission for Climatology’s Extremes Evaluation Committee classified it as “the highest significant wave height as measured by a buoy”. The Committee consisted of scientists from Great Britain, Canada, the United States of America and Spain.

The full press release is at:
http://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/19-meter-wave-sets-new-record

The Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization has announced two new lightning extremes determined by a World Meteorological Organization committee of experts: the longest reported distance and the longest reported duration for a single lightning flash in, respectively, Oklahoma (United States of America) and southern France.

The lightning flash over Oklahoma in 2007 covered a horizontal distance of 321 kilometers (199.5 miles). The lightning event over southern France in 2012 lasted continuously for 7.74 seconds, the WMO evaluation committee found.

“Lightning is a major weather hazard that claims many lives each year,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. ”Improvements in detecting and monitoring these extreme events will help us improve public safety.”

It is the first time that lightning has been included in the official WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, which is maintained by the WMO Commission for Climatology and documents details of records for heat, cold, wind speed, rainfall and other events.

Full details of the assessment are given in the on-line issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (http://journals.ametsoc.org/toc/bams/current) published on 15 September.

Dramatic improvements in lightning remote sensing techniques have allowed the detection of previous unobserved extremes in lightning occurrence and so enabled the WMO committee to conduct a critical evaluation.

The WMO evaluation committee judged that the world’s longest detected distance for a single lightning flash occurred over a horizontal distance of 321 km (199.5 miles) using a maximum great circle distance between individual detected VHF lightning sources. The event occurred on 20 June 2007 across the state of Oklahoma.

The committee also accepted the world’s longest detected duration for a single lightning flash as a single event that lasted continuously for 7.74 seconds on 30 August 2012 over Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France.

“This investigation highlights the fact that, because of continued improvements in meteorology and climatology technology and analysis, climate experts can now monitor and detect weather events such as specific lightning flashes in much greater detail than ever before,” said Randall Cerveny, chief Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for WMO.

“The end result reinforces critical safety information regarding lightning, specifically that lightning flashes can travel huge distances from their parent thunderstorms. Our experts’ best advice: when thunder roars, go indoors,“ he said.

The investigating committee was composed of lightning and climate experts from the United States, France, Spain, China, Morocco, Argentina, and the United Kingdom. As part of their evaluation, the committee also unanimously agreed that the existing formal definition of “lightning discharge” should be amended to a "series of electrical processes taking place continuously" rather the previously specified time interval of one second. This is because technology and analysis have improved to the point that lightning experts now can detect and monitor individual lightning flashes with lifetimes much longer than a single second.

Validation of these new world lightning extremes (a) demonstrates the recent and on-going dramatic augmentations and improvements to regional lightning detection and measurement networks, (b) provides reinforcement to lightning safety concerns that lightning can travel large distances and so lightning dangers can exist even long distances from the parent thunderstorm, and (c) for lightning engineering concerns.

A World Meteorological Organization panel has concluded that a temperature of -25.6°C observed at Ranfurly in New Zealand on 17 July 1903 holds the record as the coldest temperature recorded for the Southwest Pacific Region. Over the last several months, a WMO international committee of experts conducted an in-depth investigation of the extreme for the Southwest Pacific region (WMO Region V). The investigation was conducted with the support of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) for the WMO Commission for Climatology’s World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes. The investigating committee was composed of climate experts from Australia, Egypt, France, Libya, Morocco, New Zealand, Russia, Spain and the United States of America. It was established following the 2011 discovery by NIWA staff of the Eweburn, Ranfurly 1903 temperature observation of -25.6°C (-14°F).

Some entries are under construction as we transition to the official WMO Region categories. We thank you for your understanding and patience.