TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - 2020 was a very difficult year for many due to COVID-19, but the virus was not the only disaster that affected millions world-wide.
Serious climate phenomena like widespread wildfires, heatwaves and even oversized ‘murder hornets’ caused many to panic; and the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season was the busiest on record.
Here in Tucson, the Bighorn Fire burned over 100,000 acres of forest land. And across Arizona, wildfires caused by lightning seemed to ignite everywhere- affecting air quality for many residents, and catalyzing repiratory health concerns linked to COVID-19.
Let’s take a look at some of the most powerful natural disasters and events of 2020:
The Bighorn Fire began in June 2020. For more than an entire month, Arizona firefighters worked to contain the wildfire, which left an immense burnscar in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson.
Popular tourist areas in Mount Lemmon and Sabino Canyon were forced to close. During the 2020 Monsoon, tarred sediment and post-fire debris flowed into many runoff sites.
And up in Mount Lemmon’s ‘Summerhaven’, many residents were forced to evacuate and go into shelter, while the fire devastated homes, structures and wildlife.
The Bighorn Fire was officially contained on July 23, 2020.
Summer heat and drought teamed together quite well in 2020, along with one of the driest monsoons on record.
To put things into perspective, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marked August’s summertime as the warmest on record for the Northern Hempishere.
September was a record-setting month for global heat, with many regions across the world experiencing temperature increases up to 11ºF warmer than average. NOAA says “the seven warmest Septembers have all ocurred in the last seven years”.
October of 2020 was also the fourth-warmest October world-wide, affecting many regions across southern North America, South America, eastern Europe, southern Asia and many regions in the North Pacific Ocean.
In the United States, October also came with minimal precipitation.
States like North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa experienced up to 70% drier conditions across the country; states like Texas, New Mexico and Colorado experienced up to a 60% probability of drought; and Arizona and Utah had 50% chances for less rain in 2020.
If there ever was a year to break hurricane records, 2020 was the one. Last year the Atlantic Ocean was home to 30 named tropical storms, 12 of which made landfall in the United States.
And for the second time in history, the National Hurricane Center ran out of every pre-determined name for hurricanes on its list, leaving it to dig into the Greek alphabet to name storms for the remainder of the season.
The first time the Greek alphabet was used was in 2005.
[Click here] to view a list of last year’s tropical storms and hurricanes, and the Greek names left to use had Hurricane Iota not been the last major storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Although ‘murder hornets’ aren’t technically a natural disaster, they do count as a natural phenomenon. Never had the world ever seen hornets as big as Pokemon.
Scientists say the Asian hornet species, Vespa mandarinia, can grow up to 2 inches in length, which is about the average length of an adult’s thumb.
The first sight of the flying insect in the United States was in Washington State in October 2020, when a nest was spotted and eradicated by entemologists with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, who kept specimens for study.
Murder hornets are said to deliver painful stings to humans. Their venom is so potent, it can dissolve human flesh and can kill a mouse in a few seconds.