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Extreme Weather: Definition, Examples, and Impact

Weather Conditions & Terminology | Weather forecasting | Weather Technology |

Extreme Weather: Definition, Examples, and Impact

The United States has recently experienced an onslaught of severe weather. In April, the US experienced more than one hundred tornadoes and a powerful, late season winter storm (NOAA) Following an active start to the severe weather season, early May featured two weeks of constant storms with more than 600 tornado warnings. (Fox Weather) From May 6th to May 9th alone, there were nearly 100 reported or confirmed tornadoes across 18 states. (ABC News) Additionally, on May 16th a derecho moved through Texas and Louisiana killing at least 7 people and leaving almost a million homes and businesses without power. It is too early to determine the total cost of the recent severe weather and tornado outbreaks across the U.S. So far in 2024, there have already been seven billion-dollar disasters.

With these in mind, it’s no wonder that extreme weather is becoming an increasingly significant topic as these destructive events become the new norm in weather. These weather events, which can cause widespread destruction and disruption, are crucial to understand and prepare for. This blog will cover the definition and causes of extreme weather, provide examples of different types of extreme weather events, discuss their impacts, and explore how accurate weather forecasting can help mitigate these effects.

What is Extreme Weather?

Extreme weather refers to unusual, severe, or unseasonal weather conditions. This includes phenomena such as hurricanes, tornadoes, heatwaves, floods, and droughts. Various factors contribute to the occurrence of extreme weather, including climate change, geographical features, and atmospheric conditions. The warming of the earth’s atmosphere plays a significant role in altering climate patterns, which in turn influences the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.


Examples of Extreme Weather

Hurricanes and Typhoons

Hurricanes and typhoons are powerful tropical storms characterized by strong winds and heavy rain. They form over warm ocean waters when the right conditions of temperature, humidity, and wind patterns are met. Notable examples include Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which devastated New Orleans, and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which wreaked havoc in the Philippines. The impacts of these storms include massive property damage, loss of life, and long-term economic setbacks.


Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. They form when warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, creating instability in the atmosphere. Infamous tornado events include the 2011 Joplin EF-5 tornado in Missouri, which caused significant fatalities and destruction, and the 1974 Super Outbreak, one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history.


Heatwaves are prolonged periods of excessively hot weather, which can have severe impacts such as fueling wildfires. They occur due to high-pressure systems that trap heat in an area. Notable heatwave events include the 2020 Siberian heatwave, which had profound effects on the Arctic and Miami, FL in the U.S.broke its record for the most consecutive days with the heat index exceeding over 100 °F (38 °C) ending on July 26, 2023 after 46 days.


Floods are an overflow of water that submerges land. They can be classified into flash floods, river floods, and coastal floods. Historical flood disasters include the 2010 Pakistan floods, which displaced millions of people and caused extensive and Periods of heavy rainfall caused by multiple atmospheric rivers in California between December 31, 2022, and March 25, 2023, resulted in floods that affected parts of Southern California, the California Central CoastNorthern California and Nevada. The flooding resulted in property damage and at least 22 fatalities.


Impact of Extreme Weather

Extreme weather events have profound economic impacts. Since 2017, they have caused more than $1 trillion in total damage costs. (Nation Wide) They damage infrastructure, agriculture, and property, increase market volatility and lead to high costs in recovery and rebuilding. Energy costs in particular spike due to increased demand and volatility in commodity trading. Environmentally, these events disrupt ecosystems and contribute to biodiversity loss. The long-term consequences of changing climate patterns can further exacerbate weather extremes.

Damage to Infrastructure, Agriculture, and Property

Hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes can destroy homes, businesses, roads, bridges, and utilities, leading to costly repairs and reconstruction. For example, Hurricane Katrina caused over $125 billion in damage, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. These events can also devastate crops and livestock, leading to reduced yields and increased food prices. The 2012 U.S. drought caused an estimated $30 billion in agricultural losses. Further, extreme weather can destroy or severely damage private property, leading to significant financial losses for individuals and businesses.

Energy Costs

Extreme temperatures, whether it be heatwaves or cold spells, increase energy demand for heating and cooling. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Chairman Willie Phillips said “… extreme weather events have become the norm, and the electric grid is routinely being pushed to the brink.” (AP News) In fact, the United States has seen a 67% increase in major power outages from weather-related events since 2000. (Forbes) It’s no surprise then that a survey of utility executives showed a staggering 92% of respondents anticipate a surge in weather-related challenges over the next decade. At the same time, only 24% believe that their businesses are very well prepared to deal with the impact of extreme weather, with 8% reporting being poorly prepared. (Accenture) Accurate load forecasting becomes essential to mitigate the risk extreme weather poses, prevent blackouts, and manage energy supply efficiently. This need was particularly highlighted in the summers of both 2022 and 2023 for ERCOT.


Mitigation with Accurate Weather Forecasting

Mitigating the effects of extreme weather requires accurate weather forecasting. More observational data and advanced Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models are essential. Innovations in AI algorithms can enhance the speed and accuracy of forecasts. At Climavision we’ve got both covered.

More Data in Better Models

Our advanced NWP models address the new norms in extreme weather by enhancing data collection and assimilation. We gather unique observational data from multiple sources, including space-based platforms and our high-resolution radar network, providing real-time insights even in remote areas. This comprehensive data collection increases usable observational data from the 3% typically provided by government sources to over 20%. Rigorous data processing and quality control ensure the highest reliability of the input data, resulting in greater forecast accuracy. Our models, meticulously calibrated to account for evolving extreme weather patterns, offer high-resolution forecasts from a global scale down to specific assets at a nodal level. This precision benefits sectors such as transportation and logistics, as companies plan how to move the proper people and supplies in the face of major events like hurricanes or blizzards with minimal impact to lives and assets, as well as energy, to allow utilities to maintain constant power during heatwaves or artic blasts.

The Latest in AI weather Forecasting

Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhances weather forecasting by leveraging machine learning and data analytics to process vast amounts of weather and agricultural data, generating precise insights and recommendations. In April 2024, Climavision bolstered its AI capabilities by acquiring Intersphere, a leader in subseasonal to seasonal (S2S) forecasting and advanced AI technology. This integration increases forecast accuracy and extends their horizons, enabling predictions for critical weather events weeks, months, or even years in advance. Our AI technology also allows for ensemble forecasts, offering a probabilistic breakdown of different outcome likelihoods, and delivering customized forecasts tailored to specific use cases with greater speed and verified accuracy.


Prepare for the Extreme

Understanding and preparing for extreme weather is of paramount importance. As our changing climate continues to influence weather patterns, the frequency and severity of extreme weather events are likely to increase. By leveraging advanced forecasting technologies, we can mitigate the impacts of these events and safeguard businesses and communities. Climavision has risen to the challenge and developed a revolutionary approach to weather forecasting. If you’d like to learn more about our forecasting solutions and how they can help your organization, contact us.